LumberJocks

Novice lumber questions

  • Advertise with us

« back to Wood & Lumber forum

Forum topic by HarveyDunn posted 293 days ago 557 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View HarveyDunn's profile

HarveyDunn

286 posts in 355 days


293 days ago

Topic tags/keywords: question

I’m a novice. I’m waiting for some vintage planes to arrive, then I’m going to rehab them and put them to work. So I’m going to go to a lumber dealer today and buy two or three boards to have something to work on next week when the planes are ready. I’ve already got my winding sticks.

I’m doing all my work by hand – no power jointer, no power planer, no table or band saw.

Questions:

1) what would be a good species for starting out? Something well-behaved would be nice. And what species should I avoid until my skills are better? At present I’m only interested in domestic hardwoods…I’m happy to save the exotic stuff for much later.
2) if you bring home a 6’ or 8’ board, after it has acclimatized, do you surface/flatten the whole board? Or do cut off just the number of feet you think you need for the current project and then surface/flatten it, putting the remainder back into storage in its original state? Reminder: I’m doing this entirely with hand tools.
3) I know about stickering wood. I’ve also read that it is OK to store wood vertically, which would be more convenient for me. But does it have to be perfectly vertical? Can I just lean it against a wall?
4) I read elsewhere on LJ that thin stock should be stored with weight on top of it or else it will curl. Is that a general problem or is it only an issue in high humidity areas? And how thin would a board have to be for this to kick in? Furthermore: why doesn’t the board then curl when it is used in a project? Are you relying on the strength of your joinery to keep it flat?


11 replies so far

View JayT's profile (online now)

JayT

2169 posts in 835 days


#1 posted 293 days ago

Poplar is a good wood to practice planing and other hand tool skills—it is cheap and works easily. If you want prettier (and more expensive) wood for projects, cherry and walnut are also easy to work. Avoid figured wood such as curly maple.

Layout and cut to approximate length & width first, allowing a bit of extra is a good idea. If there is any twist or warp that needs removed, the shorter the piece, the less you have to plane or cut off.

Not a fan of leaning wood, though I know people that do it. I prefer storing flat, so can’t help on how vertical.

Curling/cupping is usually a bigger problem in dry areas, as that is generally a reaction to uneven drying of the different faces.

-- "The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money." Alexis de Tocqueville, 1835

View Tim Anderson's profile (online now)

Tim Anderson

84 posts in 355 days


#2 posted 293 days ago

I’m just starting out myself, and I also am using only hand tools. My plan has been to buy the rough lumber and leave it in my shop for several weeks before I do any planing, so it has a chance to acclimatize.

I had some issues with the 2×4 mystery wood I used on my bench cupping because I leaned it against a wall when I was building my bench, and it remained fairly stable in an outside storage closet when I laid it flat, so I’d be careful leaning things against a wall. All the wood I’ve bought since I’ve stacked flat on the ground, and none of it has cupped or bowed any more than it was when I bought it.

As for wood species, I’ve made a few things out of poplar, and as far as easy-to-use hardwoods go, it’s been a pleasure to work with. I’ve also done a few test dovetails on oak, and as long as my blades were sharp, I didn’t have any real problems with it. I did need to watch out for odd grain directions when chiseling out waste, though.

As for the surfacing the boards, I will cut them roughly to length for the current project, and then plane them all down to size as opposed to trying to plane the entire board at once. This just makes it a bit easier for me, as planing large surfaces is more challenging to me than planing small ones. Since I recently got a #7 jointer plane, I may be able to get large things to flat more easily now, but I haven’t tried it enough to feel confident yet. Planing my workbench with only a #4 and #5 took me a long time, and it still isn’t totally flat, but that’s more an issue with my skill than with the wood.

As for the weight on thin stock, I don’t have much around other than the piece of 1/4” oak I use to extend the reach of my router plane. That seems to be resistant to curling as long as I store it on a flat surface, but it’s only one piece of wood, so I’d rely on the opinions of others with more experience than me.

Anyways, good luck on starting out, and I wish you the best in your woodworking journey. I know mine has been challenging and very enjoyable.

-- -Tim, Salt Lake City, UT, USA

View Don W's profile

Don W

14824 posts in 1192 days


#3 posted 293 days ago

1. poplar

2. as JayT stated

3. depends on length. 4’ is fine, 16’ will bow unless its straight vertically or real close. Also depends on thickness. 2” is twice as strong as 1”.

4. depends how dry the wood is. Again I agree with Jayt

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

View mrjinx007's profile

mrjinx007

1352 posts in 392 days


#4 posted 293 days ago

I would determine what I want to make first. So, if it is a box, how wide, deep, etc. Once you have it planned, then you know the pieces you need to make the box. (don’t forget to add to measurements for your joinery). Follow JayT’s advise on cutting them a bit longer. Smooth the surfaces with your planes. Either finish first and assemble next or do the opposite. I stack my lumber both horizontally and vertically standing up against a wall. If laying them horizontally, be sure they are almost straight against the wall or they will bow.
Good luck and post your project for us to see.

-- earthartandfoods.com

View bondogaposis's profile

bondogaposis

2478 posts in 975 days


#5 posted 293 days ago

Poplar, cheapest and fairly forgiving.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View alohafromberkeley's profile

alohafromberkeley

248 posts in 1028 days


#6 posted 292 days ago

David Marks and George Nakashima stored slabs vertically to save on space and to be able to find the right wood for a project quickly. I’ve also seen hardwood yards store stock vertically.

-- "After a year of doing general farmwork, it was quite clear to me that chickens and I were not compatible"-George Nakashima

View 12strings's profile

12strings

389 posts in 1009 days


#7 posted 292 days ago

2. Definitely cut your pieces close to size before planing…It’s simple math, if you have any bow at all, the longer piece will need to be made thinner than a shorter piece.

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

View Purrmaster's profile

Purrmaster

777 posts in 717 days


#8 posted 292 days ago

I’ll also recommend poplar for starting out. it’s cheap and you can get it in wide boards. The only downside is that I’ve found it smells like cat pee when you cut it.

When starting out I’d very much favor the softer species. Especially since you’ll be using hand tools. Other nice and soft ones are alder, aspen, and butternut. And good old pine.

If you want something harder look for oak or ash, these tend to be fairly affordable.

View hydro's profile

hydro

208 posts in 376 days


#9 posted 292 days ago

1) what would be a good species for starting out?

For practice just go the local box store and buy some “pine” boards. Start working with them and you will learn how to read the grain to minimize tear out and other issues. Try working perpendicular to the grain for roughing (scrub plane), then finishing with the grain. Buy yourself a Stanley #80 cabinet scraper and learn how to use it. The scraper will finish the surface without tearing out the grain.

2) if you bring home a 6’ or 8’ board, after it has acclimatized, do you surface/flatten the whole board? Or do cut off just the number of feet you think you need for the current project and then surface/flatten it, putting the remainder back into storage in its original state? Reminder: I’m doing this entirely with hand tools.

Cut your stock to near the finished size, then work it flat and square. No sense doing more work than necessary.

3) I know about stickering wood. I’ve also read that it is OK to store wood vertically, which would be more convenient for me. But does it have to be perfectly vertical? Can I just lean it against a wall?

Standing or flat, both will work if the wood is dry. Most important is to use it soon after you buy it (if it is dry!) to avoid movement issues.

4) I read elsewhere on LJ that thin stock should be stored with weight on top of it or else it will curl. Is that a general problem or is it only an issue in high humidity areas? And how thin would a board have to be for this to kick in? Furthermore: why doesn’t the board then curl when it is used in a project? Are you relying on the strength of your joinery to keep it flat?

Again, if the material is dry and you store it indoors, the “cupping” would be a minor issue. More important is to control exposure to ambient moisture to be even on both sides of the material (stickering or stacked in a pile both work for this). Last, your project design needs to both allow the wood to move with changes in seasonal moisture, and to hold the component pieces flat. This is the reason for “frame and panel” design.

-- Minnesota Woodworkers Guild, Past President, Lifetime member.

View HarveyDunn's profile

HarveyDunn

286 posts in 355 days


#10 posted 291 days ago

Thanks every, all this is very helpful.

One last question: what is the proper order of working if your plan is to resaw your rough board? Do you fully square up the rough board first?

View David Milton's profile

David Milton

28 posts in 331 days


#11 posted 291 days ago

i have only been working wood for about a year and a half myself. i have been fortunate enough to get my hands on a lot of free wood. because, my aunt and uncle bought a property off a guy who was a bowl turner, and there was a lot of left overs in his shed. the true upside of this, was i got to see what woods are easier to get started with. so far, i have found that walnut, and cherry are pretty simple, like JayT was saying above. honey locust, while being an incredibley hard wood, is fairly easy to work. my knives, and gouges make pretty quick work of it, and it produces pretty uniform cuts without taking out big chunks. it is also a very beautiful wood, with alternating colors of tan and dark brown every other layer. i also have about a ton of burled curly maple that i have made into several spoons, and each spoon took roughly 14-18 hours of work to complete. so again i agree with jayt, stay away from curly maple, or burled wood. one of the most rewarding, and beutiful woods i have worked with, was when i first started wood working in northern califoria last year. oldgrowth redwood. if you can get your hands on some oldgrowth redwood, it is incredibley easy to work. just as long as you arent planning on using it for food safe items, as the tanin content is off the charts.

-- David Milton colville washington norwoodorigins@gmail.com

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics

HomeRefurbers.com

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics

GardenTenders.com :: gardening showcase