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Forum topic by jacobgerlach posted 07-31-2013 01:06 PM 1286 views 0 times favorited 30 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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jacobgerlach

29 posts in 511 days


07-31-2013 01:06 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question planer jointer

Hi everyone. I’m a very amateur woodworker in the Boston area, just learning the basics with my first few
projects. Right now everything I’m working on or planning is simple items for our house (bookcases, etc)

So far everything I’ve built has been from junky S4S softwood from the big box stores, but I’m excited to
step up to some real hardwoods from a quality supplier.

I found some lumber dealers in my area and got quotes for small quantities of red oak and maple. Prices were
in the $3-4/bdft ballpark, with an extra $1-$2/bdft for dressing two sides and ripping an edge.

I have no idea how this compares to other dealers around the country, but I was a little surprised that
something like a small (35 bdft) bookshelf would run me north of $100.

I don’t have a planer or jointer yet, but I’ve been keeping a close eye on Craigslist for a good deal to come
along. I’ve loved everything I’ve done so far and expect that this will be a pretty serious hobby for me, but
I don’t really want to sink my entire budget on shop setup when I’m brand new. I don’t have the time or the
knowledge to adequately research everything.

I’m also limited to pretty small quantities (which is all I need or have space for anyway). I have to either get wood delivered or buy whatever I can fit in a CRV (I don’t have a truck).

Basically I’m looking for recommendations from some of you experienced LJ’s on how I can keep moving forward
while keeping costs down. My wife would be perfectly happy for some of the items on my build list to be painted, so I think that opens some options up.

Are there other species I should consider for my first few projects?
What’s a good New England price for common hardwoods?
How much should I expect to may for a basic used planer and jointer?


30 replies so far

View PurpLev's profile

PurpLev

8476 posts in 2394 days


#1 posted 07-31-2013 01:24 PM

hi Jacob, First and foremost – Welcome aboard!

I’m from the Boston area too – where are you quoted $3-4bdft (I thought it was more in the $2+bdft for maple, but it’s been a while since I bought any)? there’s Downs and Reader down in Stoughton which have good selections and decent prices, and there are a few lumberyards in the Cambridge/Sommerville area too which I’be checked out. Depending on the size of your project, going north of $100 for a bookcase is not unheard of. Maybe now you’ll start to develop an appreciation for the high marked up furniture pieces considering material costs alone. But this is what buys you quality lumber.

As for planer/jointer – if you are short on space, I would substitute the jointer with any of the alternatives – handplane or router with edge jointer fence. I hand joint and flatten one side using hand planes which isn’t all that difficult to bring to at least a good starting point. a Planer on the other hand doesn’t have any alternatives, and if you get a good planer consider it an investment which will probably keep it’s value over time (especially if you buy used) you can find a decent planer in the $200-$300 range on craigslist usually (Delta/Ridgid/Dewalt).

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

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rfusca

155 posts in 589 days


#2 posted 07-31-2013 01:26 PM

If you’re good with painted stuff, try poplar. I find it more enjoyable than pine to work with, but cheaper than most other woods.
$4-$6 dollars /bdft ($3-4 + $1-2 for surfacing) for S3S 4/4 red oak is definitely more than I pay – its closer to what I pay for a wood like walnut.

You can surface rough lumber by hand with a few hand planes that you can get off Ebay and refurb for pretty cheap – BUT its going to be a lot more work and take a lot longer. I’ve got a scrub plane, a block plane, a jack, a jointer, and a smoother for probably around $100-$120 for the items and refurb materials. Even though it takes longer, using hand planes is very, very satisfying work – there’s just something magical about the sound and seeing the shavings sliver off (its also massively safer).

-- Chris S., North Atlanta, GA - woodworker,DBA, cook, photographer

View Matt Przybylski's profile

Matt Przybylski

468 posts in 1123 days


#3 posted 07-31-2013 01:31 PM

$3/bf for maple is normally what I pay as well in the Chicago area so that’s a pretty reasonable price. As you already know buying rough lumber will save you money but you’ll need a jointer/planer (or hand tools if you like to sweat) to make it workable so its up to you to decide if its worth the extra $$ to have them plane it for you or buy a jointer/planer. I did the latter and think it was the best decision.

If your wife doesn’t mind painting your projects then I’d go with sheet goods like MDF. A lot of people don’t like working with it because of the dangerous dust but IMO its super easy to work, cuts great on the TS (I also have a 4512) and if you wear a respirator and clean up after it shouldn’t be an issue. It lends itself perfectly to painting and projects like bookcases and such and cost is a lot cheaper than hardwood. If you mess up its also cheaper to fix than hardwood :)

Can’t help you on pricing of wood in NE but for a used planer I’d expect to pay anywhere from $100-$300 depending on the model (get a DW735 if you can find one, the cream of the crop for portable planers). Jointers vary wildly as well, but again you could pay as little as $100 for the harbor freight style jointer up to around $400 for a good used model. Alternately (and this is what I did) you can look at Grizzly for affordable and new jointers.

Good luck and welcome to the wonderful world of woodworking and LJs. I got the bug two years ago just like you and I love it.

-- Matt, Illinois, http://www.reintroducing.com

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Matt Przybylski

468 posts in 1123 days


#4 posted 07-31-2013 01:40 PM

The other guys were posting same time as me so I didn’t see their feedback but its similar to mine (typing on iPad takes forever). One other thing I also want to mention is that I bought used planer and jointer off of CL initially like you’re planning and wished I hadn’t. If you’re like me and not super mechanically inclined (as I wasn’t when starting and didn’t really know what to look for) you will quickly grow frustrated with machine setup, especially on a jointer. It drove me nuts and I had to get rid of my cheap jointer and at that point knew the value of a good, new machine (went with a long bed grizzly parallelogram jointer).

The planer was also a low end delta unit that my father passed down to me and it was terrible. Not only a ton of snipe but he scratched the beds and it kept leaving scratches on my boards. Got rid of that and bought a new 735 and I LOVE it. I could have made an auxiliary bed for the planer but quite honestly I just didn’t like it and it was old and rusty.

These two tools, while initially a high cost, have saved me tons on buying rough lumber and surfacing it myself. I originally bought from a hardwood supplier but wisened up now and found people through LJ as well as CL who have their own mills and sell much more affordable prices for great product.

-- Matt, Illinois, http://www.reintroducing.com

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jacobgerlach

29 posts in 511 days


#5 posted 07-31-2013 04:08 PM

PurpLev – Unfortunately I didn’t keep my phone notes very well organized:
I think Downes and Reader quoted me $3.10 for red oak but I either forgot to ask for maple or didn’t write it down. They have a flat $35 milling fee for dressing 2 sides and ripping an edge for orders up to 125 bdft.
Forrest Products in Greenfield (http://forestproductsassociates.com/index.html) quoted me $4.50 for hard maple, $3.25 for soft and can’t rip – planing only.
Holt and Bugabee in Tewksbury (http://www.holtandbugbee.com/) quoted me $2.85 and $3.20, but again I didn’t label my notes well and I’m not sure what those go to. They also quoted $1-$2/bdft for dressing/ripping.

The hand plane for edge jointing seems like a good fit for me, at least for now. I see that there’s a lot of posts out there about alternatives to jointers, so I’ll read up some more on that. I know I also saw at least one “which one to buy first” thread on planers and jointers that had many folks on both sides.

Chris and Mat – thanks for the alternatives (poplar and MDF) for painted pieces. I haven’t looked at either at all so I’ll take a look.

Matt – your bad experience with a used jointer is exactly what I’m concerned about in buying used tools from CL. I did a quick amazon search for Grizzly – $400+ is not affordable for me right now, so I’ll stick with research on jointer alternatives.

Everyone’s responses focused on alternatives to dedicated power tools or on used tool recommendations. Is the general consensus to stay away from having the yard mill for you? I’m trying to weigh the time savings for projects I’d like to get done sooner rather than later vs. long term cost and skill building.

View RussellAP's profile

RussellAP

2966 posts in 1032 days


#6 posted 07-31-2013 04:16 PM

Check out some independent sawyers. They are usually a bit of a drive, but will usually make you really good deals. I use a couple of them here in the Kansas City area and save tons on wood.

-- A positive attitude will take you much further than positive thinking ever will.

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jacobgerlach

29 posts in 511 days


#7 posted 07-31-2013 04:21 PM

Russel – my initial attempts to google sawyers failed. Any recommendations on what to put into google or where else to look to find them?

View PurpLev's profile

PurpLev

8476 posts in 2394 days


#8 posted 07-31-2013 04:21 PM

your prices sounds reasonable – like I said, not unheard of.

used decent jointers can be had for $100-$200 (like anything, sometimes you have to wait for it to come up). I personally don’t work on large enough boards/projects where a powered jointer will really benefit me- so hand planing does just fine in combination with a powered planer (no – I’m not a big fan of thicknessing by hand). you WOULD need to flatten one face by hand before using the power planer (if not already S2S), but you don’t have to be anal about it – just remove cupping/twisting, and use planer to flatten/thickness other face, then flip over to clean up 1st face and remove any left pockets/imperfections in it.

is it worth tooling up to mill your own lumber? that depends on your source of lumber, and your time. having the lumber yard mill it for you is definitely a time saver for a one-off projects here and there.

to give you another point of view – here’s my case – I got 3 truck loads full of lumber from a shop that closed locally. all rough and smaller scale boards. so for me milling it myself (resawing to rough thickness/bookmatch/etc → jointing → planing/thicknessing) can’t be beat as the material is “free”. and I can choose to utilize it however I like (thickness). if the cost difference for you would be $100 for rough material per bookshelf, or $130 for milled material for same bookshelf, and you make one of those every few months or so then it might make more sense have the lumberyard mill it for you as it will leave you with more shop space for other things. really personal preference

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

View azimmer's profile (online now)

azimmer

5 posts in 730 days


#9 posted 07-31-2013 04:22 PM

I’m in Cambridge. Look up Artisan’s Asylum in Union Square, it’s a neat concept—sort of a non-circulating, very reasonable tool library.

Also I’ve got a few big boards of 6/4 and 8/4 ash that I’d love to get rid of—I’d give you a deal (PM me if you like).

View rfusca's profile

rfusca

155 posts in 589 days


#10 posted 07-31-2013 04:24 PM

You’re going to have to spend the money somewhere, and basically the more time it saves, the more expensive it is.
1 Pay the mill – most expensive, most time saving.

2 Get power equipment – large upfront cost, low/medium long term cost (blade replacements and such), saves considerable time over hand work. Limited to boards that fit in equipment and noisey.

3 Hand work – cheapest option if buying used but still requires non-trivial upfront cost. Takes the most amount of time. Virtually no long term monetary cost. Unlimited in board size processing. Can be a considerable workout and need a decent vise and/or way to secure pieces. Buying new, premium hand planes costs as much or more as some power equipment.

Ultimately, its up to you. I do a mix of 1 and 3 and on small projects, I just have the mill surface it for me. For a large project like my upcoming dining room table, the monetary savings will probably dictate starting rough.

-- Chris S., North Atlanta, GA - woodworker,DBA, cook, photographer

View RussellAP's profile

RussellAP

2966 posts in 1032 days


#11 posted 07-31-2013 04:25 PM

They usually aren’t listed like that. You have to ask around. Google sawmills in your area and you might find a few that way or one of them can put you on to someone.

-- A positive attitude will take you much further than positive thinking ever will.

View Charlie's profile

Charlie

1064 posts in 1032 days


#12 posted 07-31-2013 05:47 PM

Dressed both faces, I can get 4/4 cherry for $3.25/bd.ft.
If I can use the 90/50 cherry it’s $2.55/bd.ft.
FAS Poplar is $2.20
FAS Maple is $2.75

I just found this place near me that does custom millwork. They have thousands of bd ft of cherry, maple, poplar, walnut, some mahogany, all kinds of stuff and they’re willing to sell to “the little guy” with a 25 bd ft minimum. All of it tends to be higher quality stuff. The prices above are for 50 bd ft and less. If I order 100 bd ft the prices go down some.

So look around. I didn’t even know this place existed until this past week.

View RussellAP's profile

RussellAP

2966 posts in 1032 days


#13 posted 07-31-2013 07:14 PM

My ‘north’ sawyer has great price breaks at 100BF, so I always order 110 BF. I have hard maple, some walnut, and some pecan coming tomorrow. The pecan and the maple are both 110 BF, the walnut is only about 5-6” wide 8ft and I only wanted 6 boards so that’s 50$. All that plus delivery is running me around 700$. Same deal would be over 1300$ at a local hardwood store. I preselect the wood as well and it looks outstanding.

-- A positive attitude will take you much further than positive thinking ever will.

View Don W's profile

Don W

15521 posts in 1313 days


#14 posted 07-31-2013 08:48 PM

As has been said poplar makes some nice furniture, especially if your going to paint it. Even pine is ok. I even like the 2 natural.

Just keep looking and asking. You’ll find it. Craigs list is a good spot to check as well, because the small sawmill guys post there once in a while.

Go to some of the sawmill sites, some have listings for guys who own their mills. Just search timberking and woodmizer.

Welcome to LJ’s. Keep us posted.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. - http://timetestedtools.com

View jacobgerlach's profile

jacobgerlach

29 posts in 511 days


#15 posted 08-01-2013 02:32 AM

A few guys have commented on the cost and skill of hand planes. I haven’t looked, but based on the (terrible!) block plane I got for cheap at the BORG, I’m sure that you can pay anywhere from $15 to $400 plus. Do you guys feel it’s not worth trying to hand plane unless you’re going to invest big money for the high quality equipment?

As far as the skill aspect, right now I’d rather pay a little extra to have the mill dress for me than spend my time learning to set up, sharpen, and use hand tools. I’d be interested in that down the line, but I’ve got plenty of other skills I want to build right now.

I think PurpleLev hit he nail on the head for me. The price difference for my first few projects is low enough that I think the best fit for me is to pay a little extra and get my lumber milled. I can revisit this a few months down the road once I have some more experience and a better idea of how much I’ll be doing over the next couple of years.

Charlie and Russell – thanks for the tips. I’ll certainly be keeping my eyes and ears open and looking for new sources.

I guess one outstanding question – how often do you guys need planing and jointing during a project (after the rough lumber is initially milled)? I’m pretty comfortable with my immediate way forward, but as I start tackling more complex projects (by which I mean woodwork with actual joinery…), I don’t want to find myself doing shoddy work since I’m not set up to square things up.

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