Wood thickness and cost

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Forum topic by Michael James posted 01-23-2010 10:05 PM 2333 views 0 times favorited 21 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Michael James

89 posts in 3077 days

01-23-2010 10:05 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question oak milling

Hi there,

Total newbie question:

I’m building a bunk bed for my son using this plan:

The plan calls for 1 1/16 thick stock for the side rails. I went to the place where I get my lumber and because I’m still working on getting a planer, I tend to go for the S4S stuff. To my disappointment, there’s nothing that really comes close to this dimension. So…I’m not sure what direction to go.

Option 1 is get S4S 2×8 stock at $16.99/linear foot at a cost of around $500 for two beds (I’d have to figure out a way to get rid of the extra 7/16 of stock)

Option 2 is get S2S 15/16 thick stock and mill the edges up (I do have a jointer)

Option 3 is get raw stock but I’m wondering if I’d be throwing too much away. I’d have to get the planer too, I guess…

I’m not really sure how to go about this as I’m new but I am hoping to get a planer in the near future. My main question is will the 15/16 stock be strong enough for the bed or should I find some 6/4 stock and plane it when I get the planer?

Any help you can give would be awesome. If I’m completely out to lunch, tell me that too…


-- Michael James -

21 replies so far

View bayspt's profile


292 posts in 3733 days

#1 posted 01-23-2010 10:27 PM

my vote is get the rough lumber and planer. It’s always nice to make the stock you want, not design a project around the stock you can buy. Rough is cheaper as well so over a fairly short time the planer will pay for it’s self.

-- Jimmy, Oklahoma "It's a dog-eat-dog world, and I'm wearing milkbone underwear!"

View Bob Areddy's profile

Bob Areddy

192 posts in 3431 days

#2 posted 01-23-2010 10:36 PM

I agree. On a larger project you’ll pay for the planer buy buying rough lumber.

What kind of wood are you using? 2×8x12 is 1.333 board feet. which = about $12.75/ board foot at $17/linear.

-- --Bob

View depictureboy's profile


420 posts in 3671 days

#3 posted 01-23-2010 10:46 PM

will the place you get the wood mill it for you? Since you are using linear feet instead of board feet I have to assume you are getting it from a box store…look around for a hardwood lumber yard in your area. Mine will mill wood for you to your dimensions for a little bit extra.

But like bayspt said you can really save yourself in the long run if you can swing the planer now(I am in the same spot too) There was a really good article about it in a recent wood magazine I think…If you cant swing the planer now, try finding a local hardwood dealer to help you wood from the box stores is outrageous…

if that board were 8 feet long that would be 10.67 board feet. I pay about 7.75 per board foot…thats 82.70

your cost would be 135.92 thats 53 dollars in savings…on one board…....

-- If you can't build it, code it. If you can't code it, build it. But always ALWAYS take a picture.

View papadan's profile


3584 posts in 3397 days

#4 posted 01-23-2010 10:51 PM

Or at least, look for an LJ in your area that would help you out with milling the wood for your project.

View 8iowa's profile


1580 posts in 3790 days

#5 posted 01-23-2010 11:13 PM

I don’t think it’s a good idea to “go out” and buy a planer and then start shoving rough wood thru it. Rough sawn wood is often bowed, twisted, or both. A planer will not correct these problems. Furniture makers and craftsmen first use a jointer, or a hand plane and winding sticks, to flatten one surface before running the board thru a planer to get the final thickness.

For someone new to woodworking, rather than purchase expensive tools that you don’t have experience using, have the lumber yard prepare the long 1 1/16” side rails for you.

-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"

View bayspt's profile


292 posts in 3733 days

#6 posted 01-23-2010 11:19 PM

Your cost figured at $500. Even at $7.50 a bf according to depictureboys math you would save about 196 buying rough. Well on the way to a new planer. If you can afford it at all pretend you are buying the S4S and really buy the rough and planer. It almost payed for it’s self in the first project. Unless ofcourse you have a freindly LJ close by. Rough I can get White Oak around 3.50 a BF I once calculated the cost for red oak at HD and came up with like 5 times that if I remember right. 8 iowa, he has a jointer.

-- Jimmy, Oklahoma "It's a dog-eat-dog world, and I'm wearing milkbone underwear!"

View PurpLev's profile


8536 posts in 3677 days

#7 posted 01-23-2010 11:24 PM

yeah those prices are a bit over the top. I would opt for option 3 to get a planer, espacially since you ARE planning on getting one in the near future – now would be the best time as it’ll save you on the lumber. if not – I’d go with option 2. 15/16 s2s should be strong enough for the rails. still expensive lumber though.

papadan had another good suggestion – see if you can find a local LJ that might be able to help you mill your lumber. then you can get rough lumber to save the $$, or as depictureboy suggested – you can always ask a local lumberyard to mill the lumber to your sizes, a little extra, but most likely still less than the prices you listed here.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View papadan's profile


3584 posts in 3397 days

#8 posted 01-23-2010 11:24 PM

8iowa, sorry to disagree with you, but all my wood is rough and I never have any twisted or warped boards. I only buy flat straight wood from the sawmill. I don’t own a jointer, just use my router and a straight edge. Plane to desired thickness and build. If someone gives me wood that has any tist or warp, I cut it down to flat enough pieces for use, like pen blanks. LOL

View Michael James's profile

Michael James

89 posts in 3077 days

#9 posted 01-23-2010 11:32 PM

I LOVE THIS FORUM!!! I’ve never been a part of a place that is so quick to get back.

There is a PJ Hardwood here that has rough stock. I think I’ll wait until Home Depot has a sale – usually in February – to get the planer.

8iowa – I’m sorry to disagree with you too, but how else will I get experience? I’m doing this on my own and through forums so I have to try things even though it might not be perfect.

Thanks everyone!!!


-- Michael James -

View 8iowa's profile


1580 posts in 3790 days

#10 posted 01-24-2010 03:49 AM

Well guys, I framed my response around Michael’s statement that he was a “total newbie”. Now he seems to think differenty…........and after all…......if he wants to spend the money for a planer and go ahead….......well…’s his money!

bayspt: Yes. I do have a very nice jointer, but it is only 4”, so I use it mostly for edge jointing. I take rough sawn boards to my workbench and remove twist and other problems with a hand plane and winding sticks. Then the board goes to through the planer.

I was also thinking about the problems a “twist” in the wood could cause in bed rails that are more than 6 feet long. I won’t change my mind that a rough sawn board should have one surface flattened first.

Michael: One item of advice; (that I don’t think others will disagree with) Let the wood that you purchase “climatize” in your shop for at least two weeks before cutting or planing. Purchase enough wood so that you can discard any boards that might develop serious bow or twist.

-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"

View bob101's profile


321 posts in 3479 days

#11 posted 01-24-2010 04:58 AM

I agree with most I on the other hand absolutely refuse to buy dressed lumber, it kills your budget and the money you save lets you either buy more wood or a brand new planer, besides a jointer and planer are both must haves. I dont start any project without a trip to both these tools even if someone brings me there own dressed lumber it is never straight or true.

-- rob, ont,canada

View teenagewoodworker's profile


2727 posts in 3797 days

#12 posted 01-24-2010 05:03 AM

yeah i would go for the planer. you said you already have a jointer so you can mill the stock pretty decently. Personally i only use a planer for my milling. boards that i get from the lumberyard are never perfectly flat but i use a planer sled to get them flat enough for all intents and purposes. also wen pieces are too large for my little 12” planer i will hand plane one wide by hand and use my friends larger planer. Also like was said above you need to allow your wood to acclimate to the shop. I would suggest starting off with a little skim plane right when you get the wood. just take the crust off so that the wood is open to adjust to your shop conditions. then two or three weeks after that you can mill it to final thickness and start working. I would not at all suggest that you just take the rough board and mill it all the way down. you need to do that little skim plane to allow the wood to breathe first. if you are starting with a 6/4 board (roughly 1 9/16 – 1 5/8”) and you’re going down to a 1 1/16” board you’re taking off at least a half of an inch so i would recommend skimming it first then waiting a week and milling it to within a strong 3/16th inch and another week or two weeks after that take it to final dimensions. just to make sure that it’s 100 percent dry.

View Brian024's profile


358 posts in 3429 days

#13 posted 01-24-2010 05:12 AM

Ever since I got my planer I only have bought rough boards and the planer has paid for itself probably 2 or 3 times. I then flatten one face with a planer sled, as Dennis stated. Then flatten the other face, straighten and edge with a router and a straight edge the clean that edge up with an electric hand plane.

View Michael James's profile

Michael James

89 posts in 3077 days

#14 posted 01-24-2010 05:42 AM

Once again, great advice. Although, you’ve brought me to another issue. I live in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada where, right now, the average daily high is -13ºC (8.6ºF) and my shop rarely get above +8ºC (46.4ºF) until April.

So, in saying that, should I stop production on everything until the spring? I can’t see wood getting properly acclimatized for indoor use in a shop like that….

Any thoughts?

-- Michael James -

View alaskan79's profile


74 posts in 3382 days

#15 posted 01-24-2010 05:44 AM

Why not get 5/4 stock it would be cheaper than 6/4 per BF and you won’t have as much waste. It should have more than enough stock to make 1 1/16.


-- alaskan79, Michigan

showing 1 through 15 of 21 replies

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