Dimensioning lumber by hand

  • Advertise with us

« back to Hand Tools forum

Forum topic by lateralus819 posted 07-06-2014 02:23 PM 1432 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View lateralus819's profile


2241 posts in 1885 days

07-06-2014 02:23 PM

I’m in the midst of a moxon build, and I have the main vise assembled.

I’m planning on making it it’s own “mini bench” I’d like to save some money buying some rough sawn but I’ve no planer/jointer.

I’ve always been good at jointing by hand, That is the least of my worries.

What I’ve never really done is flatten two sides so they’re of even thickness.

I’d only have to do maybe 20 feet at most. I’d rather spend $20 on rough lumber, then $100 or so on finished.

Any tips?

14 replies so far

View bonesbr549's profile


1546 posts in 3063 days

#1 posted 07-06-2014 02:38 PM

Do you have a router? If so, flatten your first face I use to use winding sticks and my old number 7. Flip it over on a good flat surface put build a sled over it for the router to ride on and go back and forth with a flat bootom bit, on the sled and that will work.

-- Sooner or later Liberals run out of other people's money.

View TiggerWood's profile


271 posts in 1602 days

#2 posted 07-06-2014 02:46 PM

If your good at jointing by hand, I don’t think you’ll have a problem. I do it all the time. Even though the lumber is rough cut it should have a fairly relative thickness. I just take very thin shavings until it is smooth.

If I have to take more than 1/16” off, I just stop every few minutes and measure the thickness all the way around to make sure I’m still on track.

View terryR's profile


7137 posts in 2304 days

#3 posted 07-06-2014 02:59 PM

Lat, flatten one face with the no.7, double check your work with a straight edge. Use a marking gauge to scribe a line all the way around the board, using your newly flat face as a reference. Flip the board, and remove wood down to your scribe marks with the no.40, no.5, then a smoother. Check with straightedge.

Have caffeine at hand…

-- tr ...see one, do one, teach one...

View lateralus819's profile


2241 posts in 1885 days

#4 posted 07-06-2014 04:42 PM

No scrub here Terry. Everything else though. The guy is a coworker who runs a mill as a hobby. Built it himself. He does a lot of pine, bunch of cherry as well.

View Tim's profile


3803 posts in 1957 days

#5 posted 07-06-2014 05:01 PM

Yup TerryR has it. It’s easier than it seems. After you flatten one side, set your gauge to basically the thinnest dimension or a little less and scribe that all the way around. Then take shavings until you get to your lines all the way around. Planing traverse in one direction and then switching (making X;s basically) really seems to make it a lot easier. Just kind of watch where wood needs to be removed and where it doesn’t. I don’t have a scrub either, so I use a 5 with a good camber on it and it works well enough. Good exercise mind you, but we all need that.

I find this technique far easier than edge jointing. I’ve tried all the tricks for edge jointing and I still can’t get the feel for square. I just have to go really slow and check ridiculously often with a square. So I agree if you can edge joint, you can do this too.

View shampeon's profile


1775 posts in 2179 days

#6 posted 07-06-2014 08:39 PM

Kevin, see how Derek Cohen does it. It’s a smart technique:

The bevels have the added advantage of avoiding blow out.

-- ian | "You can't stop what's coming. It ain't all waiting on you. That's vanity."

View ColonelTravis's profile


1768 posts in 1890 days

#7 posted 07-06-2014 10:12 PM

Bevel idea is terrific.

View lateralus819's profile


2241 posts in 1885 days

#8 posted 07-06-2014 10:16 PM

Shampeon, thanks so much. I will give it a try.

View Richard H's profile

Richard H

489 posts in 1676 days

#9 posted 07-06-2014 10:22 PM

How much material do you need to remove? A cambered iron in a #5 or #6 makes taking a lot of material off in a hurry much easier if you don’t own a scrub plane.

Also decide how flat is flat enough. If one face is for joinery and the other is for show you don’t have to make them exactly parallel to each other as you will never notice if they are a little off. For instance you typically need one corner and two faces perpendicular to each other on a leg for the stretchers to sit right but the other two faces really don’t reference anything so they just need to be close enough for show.

View lateralus819's profile


2241 posts in 1885 days

#10 posted 07-06-2014 11:18 PM

It’s just for a frame for my moxon. So I don’t have to keep moving it.

I have yet to purchase the lumber, my co-worker said he actually set his mill up with a laser and it’s pretty dead on. We will see. Hopefully it works out as he has piles and piles of lumber.

View Buckethead's profile


3194 posts in 1865 days

#11 posted 07-06-2014 11:25 PM

That chamfer trick looks like the bees knees. You get to gauge your work without having to stop to check marks on different sides of the workpiece. I’m thinking the time saved would far outweigh the time spent doing beveling. And visibility. Winning.

-- Support woodworking hand models. Buy me a sawstop.

View terryR's profile


7137 posts in 2304 days

#12 posted 07-07-2014 12:29 AM

Thanks, Ian, that’s a much better method!

-- tr ...see one, do one, teach one...

View Slyy's profile


2840 posts in 1651 days

#13 posted 07-07-2014 03:17 AM

That’s a neat way to do it, thanks for sharing Ian. Really like the idea of dimensioning lumber by hand.

-- Jake -- "Not only do we live among the stars, the stars live within us." - Neil Degrasse Tyson

View JohnChung's profile


408 posts in 2070 days

#14 posted 07-07-2014 06:57 AM

After dimensioning 2×4 at 16 feet of hard wood. Here is my list of recommendation.

1) rough dimensioning. scrub plane or an iron with chamber.
2) Low angle iron after the scrub. I tried a tooth plane. Too slow on hard wood. Just make sure you read the grain as the planing progresses.
3) Jointer with high bevel for final surfacing.

Sumitsubo for marking the line with the length is above 4 feet. Marking wheel for the line after the reference is created.

Dimensioning lumber by hand on hard wood is tiring. But a real sense of satisfaction when done properly.
Technique is VERY important with hard wood.

Derek article is good. It mentions a lot of stuff that I followed.

@lateralus819: Do you have a jack plane and jointer plane? Both are critical for 20 feet work.

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