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Forum topic by Dougan posted 11-15-2014 11:12 AM 1878 views 0 times favorited 18 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Dougan

14 posts in 751 days


11-15-2014 11:12 AM

I’ve been doing amateur woodworking for the last few years. In the past, my local Menards has had an acceptable selection of S4S hardwoods, including things like cherry, walnut, etc. So this allowed me to do some decent tables, cutting boards, etc. without much other than a power drill, table saw, sanders, and clamps.

Now Menards has significantly downsized their hardwood selection to basically just oak which means I have to look elsewhere for a lot of my projects. There’s plenty of lumber yards in my extended area but they all sell rough cut lumber, so no more surfaced wood for me.

Where would you guys recommend I go from here? It seems like my options are to suck it up and buy a planer and a jointer, or start ordering boards with one straight edge off the internet. Planer and Jointer are quite a bit of $$ for an amateur like me, but also ordering off the internet without being able to see it first scares me, especially since there is such a markup. Kind of sucks knowing that there’s some quality lumber yards around here and I’d be ordering crap off the internet.

Is there something I’m missing, or do you think I’m right and just have to suck it up and make the purchases? Do you have any recommendations for cheaper models that you would recommend for someone like me?


18 replies so far

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Tim

3112 posts in 1423 days


#1 posted 11-15-2014 11:48 AM

An in between option is to find a local woodworker or cabinet shop that will plane and/or joint the wood for you. Most likely after the savings from buying rough lumber and paying the amount they charge will make the total less than you payed at Menards for S4s. If you calculated the prices per BF at Menards you’d probably want to cry.

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unbob

718 posts in 1365 days


#2 posted 11-15-2014 11:55 AM

I was at the same point 3yrs ago. Doing woodworking with all hand tools.
With a small budget and nearly going blind searching craigslist I put together a pretty good basic shop.
The bandsaw, jointer and planer opened access to far better woods at far better prices then retail wood.
I looked at my situation and what is available in wood, and went with the little larger 8” jointer, but needed a fairly heavy 16” planer, and 18” bandsaw.

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rhybeka

2670 posts in 2583 days


#3 posted 11-15-2014 12:19 PM

if you have a strong local artisan presence, they might have a shop you can rent or buy time in – usually there’s just a small fee for usage and you have to take a shop safety class (at least that’s how it is here). For me, it’s cheaper than buying the tools, and I don’t have a need for them all the time, plus I don’t have the space to store them.

-- Beka/Becky - aspiring jill of all trades, still learning to not read the directions.

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Tennessee

2410 posts in 1976 days


#4 posted 11-15-2014 12:50 PM

Have to be honest – one of the biggest turning points in my humble woodworking career was when I bought my first planer, followed a year later by my jointer. The first was a 12” Rigid planer, and I kept it out in the barn with rough stock and a vacuum cleaner to catch the shavings.

Not only did it allow me to start doing things with rough lumber, it also opened up reclaiming lumber that I might have otherwise passed on, (be careful for nails!), and once in a while, I would chain saw planks out of larger branches and run them through, then rick them up to dry.

The second biggest turning point was finally having a bandsaw where I could resaw planks, thus not losing all that in the planer.
It sounds like you are ready to make the jump…

-- Paul, Tennessee, http://www.tsunamiguitars.com

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CharlesA

3020 posts in 1259 days


#5 posted 11-15-2014 01:39 PM

“A planer is the only tool that will save you money.” It’s true. You can survive without a jointer using hand planes, sleds, or other tricks (although a jointer is nice), but a planer is necessary, IMHO. But, depending on where you are, you can buy a much wider variety of wood at a much cheaper cost. In my case, before my planer, I primarily used red oak from HD that worked out to $7bf. Now I buy from local sawmills where I get Red oak at $2.25, cherry at $2.40, or walnut At $3.50—and 25 other species and curly and spalted varieties and QS options, etc. one way to find sawmills in your area is to search for lumber on CL.

-- "Man is the only animal which devours his own, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." ~Thomas Jefferson

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Bill7255

354 posts in 1747 days


#6 posted 11-15-2014 01:51 PM

Charles is correct. I first started with a planner. I then bought a used 6” jointer, then upgraded to a used 13” jointer/planner combo. Sold the 6” for what I bought it for. I kept my Dewalt planner as it comes in handy for some things. I have about $1200 total invested, but they have more than paid for themselves in lumber prices. You can figure lumber is 25% vs Menards prices.

-- Bill R

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greenacres2

251 posts in 1630 days


#7 posted 11-15-2014 01:57 PM

I like Menard’s, pretty decent screw selection and definitely try the Sprecher’s Root Beer they carry. But, the current price of a 1” x 4” x 6’ (nominal) is $18.36, equating to roughly $9.18/bf. Johnson’s Workbench in South Bend, IN is currently at $3.37/bf for 4/4 (full 1” thick) Select & Better 6’ to 7’ lengths (100 bf price, $4.39 for less than 100 bf). For the difference on just 100 bf (not a lot of material), you’d be approaching the retail price of a Dewalt 735 planer. (Number 1 Common grade from them is currently at $2.72/bf, and on their grading—that is still really nice lumber)

Having your own tools opens up other options—a few years ago i bought over 1,500 bf of cherry (50%), white oak (30%) and ash (20%) from a CL ad, all over 20 years old, for $500 delivered to my house (he was moving). Last year i picked up a 300 or 400 bf load of 12” wide poplar for $250, much of it 8/4 and it came off the trailer mostly in flitches. I recently found a guy 20 miles from us that harvests lumber as a hobby and picked up 65 bf of black walnut shorts (4’ to 5’, his mill only has a 12’ capacity) for $100—and it is prime stock. He’ll be a steady source of red cedar, walnut white oak and maybe a little osage orange—as he just loves to cut wood.

As an alternative to buying machines, the retailer mentioned in the first paragraph will plane 2 sides for $0.09/bf, or plane 2 sides & rip 1 edge for $0.17/bf (both with 100 bf minimum). I’d rather mill my own so it’s as consistent as i can get it. And, they won’t normally plane/joint wood that they don’t sell (to protect their blades.

Those tools seem expensive when you look at the catalog, but once you start looking at the cost of processed hardwood—they become profitable even for a hobbyist. At least that’s what i try to tell my wife to slow down the rolling of the eyes!!

earl

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paxorion

1102 posts in 1507 days


#8 posted 11-15-2014 02:05 PM

A few thoughts:
  1. S4S lumber is seldomly ever really square. Wood movement is a pain. I’m also a cheapskate and can’t bring myself to pay for S4S lumber from the big box stores.
  2. Look on Woodfinder.com and see if any of the local hardwood dealers might have surfaced material or offers milling services.
  3. As others have mentioned, look for any local cabinet shops and/or artisans who are open to providing you some shop time. Alternatively, look for any makerspaces that may have equipment for use. I go to one regularly to use their equipment.

Practically every project I have worked on has touched a planer and jointer. Having a place to go to with that equipment is a wonderful asset to woodworking. Unfortunately I don’t have much space at home, so when I had to pick one or another, I went with a planer, which while not time efficient, does let me process rough lumber at home. I use a router sled to flatten one face or just skip plane (with reasonably flat material). When I finally get to building my router table, I’ll be using that as my edge jointer (at home). Right now, I use edge guides to get a straight rip before bringing it to the table saw.

-- paxorion

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jeffswildwood

1326 posts in 1439 days


#9 posted 11-15-2014 02:13 PM

If I had a wish list it would be for a planer, joiner and a band saw. I recently found out the a local pallet shop will sell me a truck load of slabs for $10.00. As much as I can fit in my truck! I can’t take advantage of this without the tools to work it up. My two hold backs are price, just can’t afford them yet, and space, I have a very small basement shop.I know they have a variety of local woods as a few years ago I had three silver maples removed from my yard and the cutter asked if I wanted to keep the wood. I said no and he cut it to length and sold it to the pallet shop. In my local area (southwest Virginia) I know they must get a lot of maples, walnut, oak pine, and locust. Probably many more.

-- We all make mistakes, the trick is to fix it in a way thats says "I meant to do that".

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Dougan

14 posts in 751 days


#10 posted 11-15-2014 02:26 PM

Thanks for all the responses. It’s been hard knowing how much I’m paying for average lumber at Menards. But the added cost hasn’t added up to be that of a planer yet so thus far it’s sufficed ;)

Interested in what Charles has to say about being able to get around using a jointer. You all think that if I did a good job with a hand planer, I could run my stuff through a table saw? That’s one of my concerns—I’ve only run surfaced stuff through the saw at this point, so I’m not really sure how perfect that edge has to be.

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CharlesA

3020 posts in 1259 days


#11 posted 11-15-2014 02:36 PM

Dougan,

I am just speaking from my experience—I think every beginning woodworker should read Chris Schwarz’s Coarse, Medium, Fine, the single most helpful thing I’ve read in woodworking, to understand the steps in preparing wood for use using hand and power tools.

What I did for a three years or so was to use hand planes to get one side reasonably flat, and one edge 95% flat, and then use the planer to get the opposite face parallel and then flip it over to get the first side completely flat, and then to the table saw to get the opposite edge cleaned up and then flip to finish off the planed edge. It wasn’t a perfect system, but it worked for me. It also taught me a lot about wood. I bought a Jointer this summer, and it is a lot easier, but I’m grateful for what I learned in my hand plane-centric phase.

-- "Man is the only animal which devours his own, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." ~Thomas Jefferson

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Woodmaster1

736 posts in 2049 days


#12 posted 11-15-2014 02:44 PM

I also buy my hardwood from ll Johnson’s out of Charllotte MI. It is only an extra 10 cents a bdft. For them to plane it. I still have a 13” delta planer to use for making thinner boards when needed. I figure the extra 10 cents is worth it. The rate I use lumber it would take 15 years to break even on buying 15” or larger planer.

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CharlesA

3020 posts in 1259 days


#13 posted 11-15-2014 02:52 PM

There is a huge price difference between the 12-13” lunchbox planers and the 15+” 220v planers.

-- "Man is the only animal which devours his own, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." ~Thomas Jefferson

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paxorion

1102 posts in 1507 days


#14 posted 11-15-2014 04:19 PM



There is a huge price difference between the 12-13” lunchbox planers and the 15+” 220v planers.

- CharlesA

Yes there is quite the price difference. Amongst the 12-13” lunchbox planers there are differences in the features available. My Porter Cable PC305TP is an example of the bottom of the line. It gets the job done but man does it snipe like crazy.

-- paxorion

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paxorion

1102 posts in 1507 days


#15 posted 11-15-2014 04:21 PM


There is a huge price difference between the 12-13” lunchbox planers and the 15+” 220v planers.

- CharlesA

Yes there is quite the price difference. Amongst the 12-13” lunchbox planers there are differences in the features available. My Porter Cable PC305TP is an example of the bottom of the line. It gets the job done but man does it snipe like crazy.

- paxorion

Not to go too far off topic, but one caveat of lunchbox planers vs full size 15”+ planers, is that the knives tend to be disposable and not re-sharpenable. In the long run, that will raise the cost of ownership.

-- paxorion

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