Edge jointing large red oak boards

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Forum topic by mnkraft posted 10-14-2013 10:41 AM 2452 views 1 time favorited 24 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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9 posts in 1660 days

10-14-2013 10:41 AM

Topic tags/keywords: workbench bench oak wood edge jointing hand tools plane planing

As you can see from the bench I’m working on; I need a new one:

I do not own any power tools (except a circular saw) and I was hoping to keep it that way (too noisy for sleeping kids, plus I enjoy the hand work much more). I have a lot of high quality tools—Lie Nielsen, Veritas, etc. —because I thought that’s what I needed. I’m only pointing that out because I was naive enough to think that. I have come to realize that the bench is just as important as the tools when doing hand work. In fact, it’s obvious to me now that my wavy plywood top is the reason I fight to flatten 4/4 stock. But, I digress. That’s not what I’m posting about…

I was hoping to get opinions and/or pointers, tips, as I am unsure how to proceed. I have purchased a lot of old red oak beams, about 2-3/4” thick. I ripped it all down to 4-1/2” wide and around 84” long. I planned on setting the boards on edge and having a 4” thick top by 20” to 24” wide. This would mean somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 of the ~2-1/2” thick boards edge jointed together. I started planing these by hand last night and it would appear my naivety has struck again.

I thought this seemed “doable” ... But, it’s obviously going to take me a long, long time to finish this. I’m starting to think I should buy a planer and jointer, even if just to finish this one task. But, I’m not completely sure a benchtop 6” jointer and 13” planer could handle these long boards very well, either, and I’d hate to just go out and waste $500 on a pair of them. Maybe I should just buy a bench… But, I’ve already bought the red oak and wonder if I would be happy with a $500 bench anyways. Rent shop time and use their planer/jointers to finish the top? OK, but I have a car and hauling long boards is difficult.

What would you do? Hike up your skirt and finish the bench by hand? Buy a planer and jointer? Screw it & go buy a bench?

24 replies so far

View 12strings's profile


434 posts in 2347 days

#1 posted 10-14-2013 08:12 PM

Ask all your friends who has a jointer and planet you can use…after living in this area foe about 4 yrs I discovered that I have 3 friends who do…a doctor, teacher, and a small business owner…you might be surprised…if I was in your shoes u would definitely want to use the wood I had…

-- I'm strictly hand-tool only...unless the power tool is faster and easier!

View Don W's profile

Don W

18684 posts in 2530 days

#2 posted 10-14-2013 08:28 PM

or just buy the planer for now. Jointing with hand planes is pretty quick and easy. Sizing on the other hand can be time consuming. I do most of my jointing with hand planes even though I have a Delta jointer. I’ll never give up my planer.

The other point if you have a lot to do, stacking them sideways and 3 or 4 together, you can joint them with the planer.

A bench top with a couple of stands will handle anything you’ll ever want to plane. (given your current situation that is)

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View chrisstef's profile


17299 posts in 2969 days

#3 posted 10-14-2013 08:29 PM

That’s a lot of jointing. You can do it by hand but itll take time if those reclaimed boards are a bit wavy. What I would do is find a local wood supplier or another LJ as suggested by 12 and farm it out. I don’t feel that there is any shame in that. It can be done properly and most import, safely without waking up the whole house and spending $500 – $1000. Im in the same boat having a young child in the house. I try not to make a ton of noise. There’s hell to pay if they wake up ;)

I say drop a post and see if there are any guys or gals local to you that would be willing to help out. Id bet dollars to donuts that there is.

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View Don W's profile

Don W

18684 posts in 2530 days

#4 posted 10-14-2013 08:57 PM

it may help to add your general location to your profile.

That is if you want a fellow LJ to help out.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View jdh122's profile


995 posts in 2780 days

#5 posted 10-14-2013 09:10 PM

I’d definitely advise you to make your own bench rather than buy it, especially since you’ve acquired wood that you may not be likely to use in other projects (would you want to re-saw that down to 1 inch thick by hand to use it for furniture?).
Don W is right that generally jointing is quite easy with a plane, but in this case you’re jointiing stock that is 4 inches thick – you really need both machines. A benchtop planer will easily work its way through that wood (small bites, of course). On the other hand I’d steer clear of benchtop jointers, if I’m picturing the right thing. I had one for a few years and it was terrible. On the other hand, the most basic 6 inch jointer on a stand will easily handle that wood.
But if you’re not planning on using the j+p after the bench build, you can definitely find someone locally who could do it for you for cheap/free/beer.

-- Jeremy, in the Acadian forests

View mnkraft's profile


9 posts in 1660 days

#6 posted 10-15-2013 02:06 AM

I was thinking of trying to find someone who would do it for a fee—but I guess I wasn’t too sure about how to go about finding someone to do that, either. If I could find someone to do that, I would definitely pay reasonably for the time.

One way or the other, I have made up my mind that I am not going to buy a planer/jointer, since I won’t need or use them after this anyways. When the endless planing gets to me, I’ll keep in mind all the practice I am getting and how much easier shorter boards will be after the bench is built. :)

Thanks for all the input. I may start a “bench biuld” topic for the fun of it and to look back at when (hopefully) I finish!

View bullhead1's profile


228 posts in 2212 days

#7 posted 10-15-2013 02:41 AM

Look for a local small cabinet shop. Most have a heavy duty planer and jointer and love that cash on the side job. They might also end up being a source for wood.

View djwong's profile


176 posts in 3183 days

#8 posted 10-15-2013 05:21 AM

A jointer and planer (along with a bandsaw) are great conveniences, even if you are primarily a hand tool person. To limit your expenditures, I would get the planer first. Hand joint your rough boards so they have a single flat stable surface. This does not mean the surface has to be smooth and perfect, just that there is no twist and that the board will feed through your planer flat. After planing one surface smooth, flip the board and plane your hand jointed surface smooth. Given you are working long boards, there still may be some hand work you have to do to clean up your boards, but it will be much less work at that point.

Also, it will probably be better to glue up the boards you are able to prepare each day. Less chance of warping overnight.

-- David W. Cupertino, CA

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

28900 posts in 2301 days

#9 posted 10-15-2013 07:57 AM

Buying a bench to me is never an option. I am not a hand tool person. Mainly because of the time needed to do it right. The choice is yours if you want and can expand your shop with some power tools.

-- Mother Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View JohnChung's profile


407 posts in 2037 days

#10 posted 10-16-2013 01:51 PM

I am not sure where is your slow down….. Yes hand tools can be slow when use incorrectly. I have spent 2 hours trying to straighten planks that was rough cut.

Thickness – scrub plane or skew the jack blade. Can remove 1/8 material rather quickly for planks.
Jointing – A jointer plane. It does not take long seriously.
Smoothing – Well… For the bench top we can leave that for the last stage.

Leveling is not the same as jointing….. If there is twist, cup , bends or thickness issues then scrub or blade skewing is the way to go.

Sometimes it is good to measure the time determine which step is slow.

View bigblockyeti's profile


5086 posts in 1683 days

#11 posted 10-16-2013 03:25 PM

A bench top planer would be a good investment, and if you didn’t want to buy a jointer right now, you could make a jig (a long one) that would allow you to joint the edge of the boards with your new planer. A bench top jointer wouldn’t be a good idea for boards of this length or weight, due to the short bed and light weight construction of most bench top jointers. Many have mentioned finding someone to help you out, and that sounds like a good option, IF you can find someone with the equipment, time, and a way to get around your limited hauling ability.

View richardwootton's profile


1699 posts in 1918 days

#12 posted 10-16-2013 05:39 PM

If there is not a large variation in size and a limited amount of twist, cupping or bowing, then I’d face joint both faces that are to be laminated, making sure that the boards meet up true when stood on edge like they will be once glued up into your bench top. Once that is done you can glue your bench top up then proceed to joint/flatten what will be the underside of your bench top all at the same time. I don’t know if you have read Paul Sellers series on building a workbench, but I would definitely recommend it. This is the process I have followed in my workbench build and I just finished flattening the underside of my bench top with relative ease using hand planes.

-- Richard, Hot Springs, Ar -- Galoot In Training

View pintodeluxe's profile


5618 posts in 2776 days

#13 posted 10-16-2013 06:26 PM

I think of jointers in terms of length. An 18” long plane can only straighten a board so much. An 8” jointer is often 76” long. With that spec alone, you can see there really is no comparison.

I used to pay my local cabinet shop to make bandsaw cuts before I owned that tool. Do that twice, and it will cost you the same as buying the tools.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View mnkraft's profile


9 posts in 1660 days

#14 posted 10-16-2013 06:32 PM

JohnChung: My slow down is probably “all of the above” and also that I am trying to get things PERFECT. For some reason, I’m trying to get the boards square and smooth on all four sides. I don’t think I really need to worry about at least two of the faces, yet (which will be the top/bottom), and the faces being glued up only need to meet up true as richardwootton pointed out.

It’s a coincidence that you mention Paul Sellers—I found him for the first time last night. I watched a few of his workbench videos on youtube. Even he ran those pine (or fir?) boards through a planer, first, but then surfaced them with his no. 4 to get rid of the planer tracks.

I think if I were going to buy anything, this thread would have convinced me to buy a 13” planer rather than a jointer. I’m going to attempt it by hand, first, but may get a planer for temporary use.

Funny, I had a DeWalt DW-733 (or 734, can’t remember which) for about a week a few years ago. That thing was so noisy I felt like the neighbors were going to complain when I ran it after 9pm. The boss didn’t say anything, but she definitely had raised eyebrows at the noise level. Luckily I made money on that buying from a pawn shop, selling on CL. I actually did build a jointing jig to run through it, with shims and what not, but it was sort of a pain to setup and get working right.

View Jeff's profile


428 posts in 3157 days

#15 posted 10-16-2013 06:43 PM

If you’re going to laminate those on the 4” side then a planar is definitely the machine to buy. You’ll find it hard to get a consistent thickness along the entire length with a jointer.
On another note are you sure you need a solid red oak bench that thick? I know it would be slightly more stable than a 2 1/2” thick one but it’ll be extremely heavy. If you laminated them on the short side it woud mean fewer boards to plane and join. Just a thought.

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