Need help with surfacing rough cut lumber

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Forum topic by Shay posted 06-12-2008 at 02:13 PM 11668 views 4 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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59 posts in 2438 days

06-12-2008 at 02:13 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question plane jointer tablesaw

I’m 99% sure I saw a post or blog on this somewhere but I can’t for the life of me find it now. So, I thought I’d just ask. I just bought my first small load of rough cut red oak boards running 6”-9” wide. I’m looking for the best way to surface these up with the surfacing tools I have.

6” Jointer
13” Planer
Table saw

Any links or just a breakdown of steps would be great.


-- Centerville, MN - Hobbyist and DIYer

11 replies so far

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27251 posts in 2459 days

#1 posted 06-12-2008 at 02:40 PM

The jointer will work fine for surfacing wood 6” in width but for larger boards you will either have to rip them or make a sled to surface them on your planer such as GaryK's planar sled. You must have a flat surface before passing the board through the planer. Using the jig will let you establish a flat surface on one side of lumber that is up to 13” in width.

Once you have one flat surface then use the planer to make the other side parallel. Joint one edge and run the other through the table saw and you have all 4 sides at 90 degrees to one another.

Hope this helps.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View Mike Lingenfelter's profile

Mike Lingenfelter

500 posts in 2751 days

#2 posted 06-12-2008 at 02:44 PM

For the stuff that can’t run over your 6” jointer, you can use a planer sled with your 13” Planner. It has worked well for me. If you have never used a Jointer or Planner, there is a great DVD that shows you everything you need to know.

View benihun's profile


33 posts in 2284 days

#3 posted 06-12-2008 at 02:48 PM

Here is a link which was very useful for me: Getting started in woodworking
Check out video #9 – “How to mill rough lumber” for this topic.

1. Get one of the wider sides (faces) planed on the jointer.
2. With the flat side (made in the first step) against the fence on the jointer, get one of the narrow sides (edges) planed.
3. Rip the stock with the flat edge against the fence on the tablesaw.
4. Make the crosscut on the tablesaw.

I hope I wrote it as it was shown in the video.

View Shay's profile


59 posts in 2438 days

#4 posted 06-12-2008 at 02:55 PM

Cool, I think I’ll just rip the pieces down to 6” or smaller since I don’t need anything larger anyways and was going to rip them eventually. Thanks for the advice everyone.


-- Centerville, MN - Hobbyist and DIYer

View dalec's profile


613 posts in 2525 days

#5 posted 06-12-2008 at 02:58 PM

Garyk has an article on the LJ forum or blog on using a sled and bench planer. Also FWW has an article about using sled to get flatten a board.


View David Freed's profile

David Freed

97 posts in 2305 days

#6 posted 06-12-2008 at 05:07 PM

I will agree that a jointer has its place in woodworking, but I think it gets overused. Boards that are cupped will plane flat for me. Twisted boards won’t, but I rarely run into that. I have planed and sold at least 50,000 bf of lumber, and have never used a jointer. Most of the lumber I sold was to repeat customers, and they liked what they were buying.

-- David, Southern Indiana

View Catspaw's profile


236 posts in 2452 days

#7 posted 06-12-2008 at 06:06 PM

Well, it would appear most people around here get 8/4 or better wood. Because we’ve never gotten thick enough boards to joint and plane them out dead flat from rough. Most of what we get is 4/4. There is simply not enought material to joint out bows in the wood.

We skip plane, then, do the rest as needed. When we need something really flat AND it’s short, then we flat joint and plane. Face frames will suck up flat when you apply them to a cabinet. No sense in wasting wood. Of course, if you’re trying to do an 8’ tall pantry door or something that’s only 3/4” thick then you want flat wood. But, then you have to account for special needs.

Personally, I think the only reason anyone needs a planer sled is if you have a special short peice of figured wood that’s all gnarly and such. We work with alot of stuff over 8’ and never flat joint.

Bottom line, consider what you want to accomplish. Then do as necessary without wasting a bunch of wood.

-- arborial reconfiguration specialist

View Doug S.'s profile

Doug S.

295 posts in 2345 days

#8 posted 06-13-2008 at 07:31 AM

If you can rough cut pieces to length ahead of time, you may be able to reduce the amount of face/edge jointing you have to do and it may increase the final thickness a bit. Go a bit longer to account for any potental planer snipe later and do your best to plan pieces out for color/figure matching. But the sooner you can break things down smaller, the better for flattening and squaring them up. Also if sapwood edges exist and you’re trying to avoid those, it may mean you have to switch back and forth between ripping & crosscuting in non-convenient steps. I usually just keep the rip blade on during all this and do a quick rough cut overlong with a Shark saw for the length.

-- Use the fence Luke

View gizmodyne's profile


1763 posts in 2727 days

#9 posted 06-13-2008 at 08:05 AM


I have a blog entry with a video that might interest you.

-- -John "Do I have to keep typing a smiley? Just assume it's a joke."

View ww_kayak's profile


70 posts in 2362 days

#10 posted 06-20-2008 at 09:13 AM

Better late than never… There’s a good video of the sled type Mike mentioned over at Fine Woodworking too:

A Planer Sled for Milling Lumber

-- Tom, Central New York

View edp's profile


109 posts in 2598 days

#11 posted 06-20-2008 at 09:30 AM

I have always been a bit shy on the issue of planer sleds. One method I turn to frequently is my version of router rails. I first rough cut my components to length (plus a bit) and then make a “U” channel from plywood that is long enough and wide enough to contain the widest/longest component. It is important that the side legs are exactly the same height. I normally screw through the sides into the base and then rip them to size. I then grab a router mounted on a 2’ square piece of 1/2” thick lexan with a large diameter end cutter. Fasten the lumber to the “U” channel with a screw up through the bottom on each end. Not too tight, just snug, adjust the tool length and cut the face dead flat.


-- Come on in, the beer is cold and the wood is dry.

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