To mill or not to mill?

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Forum topic by rockindavan posted 06-07-2012 03:04 AM 1523 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View rockindavan's profile


299 posts in 2784 days

06-07-2012 03:04 AM

I recently graduated from college and will soon have to move on from using the schools shop. I will be setting up a shop at my new place, but won’t have a jointer and planer. I would say it would be at least a year or two before I would be able to get either. I have a decent amount of lumber collected over the years (maybe 20-30 rough cut boards). It varies from 4/4, 5/4, 6/4 and 8/4.

Should I mill up these with the expectation that I will use them in the next couple or years, or just leave them rough cut and hold off using them for a couple of years? Im a little concerned that they would just end up bowing, warping or getting dinged and dented before I use them. I would be nice to know I have some milled stock, but I’m not sure it is worth the risk.

13 replies so far

View cabmaker's profile


1740 posts in 2957 days

#1 posted 06-07-2012 03:18 AM

Wouldnt hurt to go ahead and manipulate the machinery while you still have access. Just dont try to achieve final dimension at this point. It will also allow you to get a good look at it. Stacked and stored (dry) properly, it will keep a long, long time. JB

View SnowyRiver's profile


51457 posts in 3628 days

#2 posted 06-07-2012 03:20 AM

I would leave them as they are until you are ready to use them. There is no guarantee that they wouldnt still warp if you milled them. If you leave them the size they are, it will give you more opportunities to mill them to the size you need depending on the project you are working on at the time.

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

View PurpLev's profile


8540 posts in 3796 days

#3 posted 06-07-2012 03:26 AM

leave them as is – mill them according to project they will be used in – and mill as thick as possible/needed.

you COULD get a couple of handplanes and open up the possibilities of milling your own lumber without power ;) there’s nothing wrong with that…

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

View Milo's profile


869 posts in 3467 days

#4 posted 06-08-2012 04:07 AM

I suggest you joint and plane at least one long edge and one flat side if you have access to more powerful and larger tools at your school shop. I know when I was taking a class at Arrowmont I took advantage of the huge jointer and planer they had there.

This will make things much easier down the road when you start your project because of the straight edge and flat width you have to work with.

-- Beer, Beer, Thank God for Beer. It's my way of keeping my mind fresh and clear...

View DKV's profile


3940 posts in 2652 days

#5 posted 06-08-2012 05:30 AM

I say volunteer to help out in the shop at school and continue using it. TA, janitor, etc. If you know the woodshop personnel they should be able to work something out for you. Worth a try…

-- This is a Troll Free zone.

View RRBOU's profile


176 posts in 2440 days

#6 posted 06-08-2012 08:06 AM

I am on the side of milling as you need them. This could save for thicker use as needed.

-- If guns cause crime all of mine are defective Randy

View tyskkvinna's profile


1310 posts in 3134 days

#7 posted 06-08-2012 12:58 PM

I love the idea of getting two flat sides (edge).

-- Lis - Michigan - -

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6864 posts in 4127 days

#8 posted 06-08-2012 01:05 PM

It was suggested to joint and plane one edge and face.

That is the last thing you want to do. You will force the boards to warp and cup.

I would leave them as they are, as they will continue to move. That means you will have to redo it later, with less material to work with.


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View BinghamtonEd's profile


2298 posts in 2517 days

#9 posted 06-08-2012 01:36 PM

I would leave them be, as well. I would make a point to meet some woodworkers in the area and buddy up with someone who has a jointer/planer :) My wife works at a HS with a shop with some OK equipment (jointer, lathe, etc), and my father-in-law is friends with an older gentleman who has a well stocked wood shop. While it is a pain to depend on other means to accomplish your tasks, it’s never a bad thing to know the right people.

-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

View Brandon's profile


4152 posts in 3099 days

#10 posted 06-08-2012 01:40 PM

You can mill a smaller percentage of them now, so that you can work with them until you acquire a jointer and planer to mill the rest.

-- "hold fast to that which is good"

View Planeman40's profile


1257 posts in 2909 days

#11 posted 06-10-2012 02:26 PM

Ah! A young woodworker!

As you will be building your shop, here are a couple of recommendations from a seventy two year old woodworker who started building his shop with the purchase of a Sears 15” floor drill press at the age of seventeen (and its still in use).

Unless you have plenty of money for the large fancy new stuff, buy good used light industrial machines and clean them up. I have machines from the 1940s through the 1970s that are mostly Delta machines and they work beautifully and hold their value. Look at machine auctions and watch for high schools that are to be closed down (I bought out an entire classroom of heavy oak chemistry lab floor and wall cabinets for less half of the price I could have bought the lumber to build cheap cabinets and I refinished them for my shop). Keep an eye on Craig’s list too. Light rust is easy to clean and polish up so don’t let that deter you. Look for surplus places, and wander the flea markets for hand tools. You would be surprised how well these dirty and somewhat rusty but superb old hand tools can be cleaned up with a wire brush in an electric drill. Bearings can be replaced too. Just watch out that the machine doesn’t have a 3-phase motor.

Good luck!


-- Always remember: It is a mathematical certainty that half the people in this country are below average in intelligence!

View Dusty56's profile


11822 posts in 3836 days

#12 posted 06-10-2012 03:51 PM

Never mill the wood until you’re ready to use it.
I have purchased too many pre-milled boards to save for “future projects” and now the future is here and the wood has gone its own way…ie: warped , twisted , cupped , discolored.
It was milled to 3/4” stock and now some of it I will be lucky to get 1/4”-1/2” stock after re-milling it.
Leave it be , because once you open up one face and edge as suggested above , you will throw the moisture balance off and ruin your boards in no time. You have nothing to gain !!

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View bruc101's profile


1249 posts in 3689 days

#13 posted 06-10-2012 04:32 PM

Woodworkers have a special fraternity amongst ourselves and share a unique art and hobby together. I would suggest you make friends in your area with other woodworkers and if possible join a club or guild.

I have several woodworkers in my area that do not have a fully equipped shop because of not enough room or the funds to buy equipment with. I value their company as a woodworking friend and enjoy helping them when they need help.

I’m sure you can meet and make friends with a woodworker or woodworkers in your area that would be more than happy to let you use their jointer and planer and would probably help you.

Woodworkers are not difficult to find…just look at homes when you drive by them, especially their garages and out buildings.

-- Bruce Free Plans

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