S2S lumber and jointing/planing

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Forum topic by siki posted 05-11-2015 08:14 PM 1189 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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5 posts in 528 days

05-11-2015 08:14 PM

Topic tags/keywords: s2s jointer jointing planer planing

I’m fairly new to woodworking – I’ve always had a passion but never the time. I still don’t really have the time, but decided to do it anyways (haven’t been sleeping much…) I own some basic tools: a table saw, router, few hand planes, set of chisels, etc. I’ve been buying S4S lumber from the big box stores and a local supplier and used that to make a few basic projects. I know how to use hand planes to joint edges so that they can be edge glued or to make boards flat.

A couple of months ago I picked up some S2S walnut lumber from a yard that I was going to use to make my first “real” table (a console table, that is). I was hoping that because I bought S2S lumber I wouldn’t have to flatten and make parallel the faces. I was just going to use my TS to rip the two edges parallel and touch them up with a jointer hand plane, so that they’re 90 degrees to the faces.

The walnut has been sitting in my garage for about 2 months, and now I finally got around to doing the project. I cut it up to rough size and ripped the edges but noticed that now there’s some twisting and bowing in the pieces. Nothing major but enough that there’s some rocking on some of the pieces if I lay them on a flat surface.

As I said, I don’t have experience buying from a yard but it seems useless for me to buy S2S lumber when during the acclimatization process the wood would become twisted again anyways. I spent a good hour flattening a small piece of board (40” x 6” x 1”) with a hand plane and then planing the other face. I don’t have time to do that for all the pieces and while it’s very rewarding, it’s torture at the same time. How are other people doing it?

I actually just picked up a Delta jointer off of craigslist and I’m looking for a planer but I was totally under the impression that if I bought S2S lumber I wouldn’t have to do all of this.

Any comments of suggestions are welcome. Thanks in advance!

9 replies so far

View pintodeluxe's profile


4823 posts in 2229 days

#1 posted 05-11-2015 08:24 PM

Imagine going to a home center and buying S4S lumber. Ready for projects, right? Not really. S4S or any finish milled lumber that sits in a store will likely have some warping or cupping.

The good news is rough lumber is cheaper, and when milled correctly will yield flat stable lumber. This makes any project more enjoyable. You are on the right track getting a jointer and planer.

Quartersawn lumber is more stable than flatsawn lumber. Some species are more prone to warping (cherry comes to mind). Also, the thicker the lumber, the less likely it is to warp. For example I buy 5/4 rough lumber whenever I can. It is easier to get long, straight boards from 5/4 than from 4/4 stock.

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

View Rob's profile


704 posts in 2487 days

#2 posted 05-11-2015 08:41 PM

When you bought the S4S lumber, did you also let it acclimate for a couple months before using it?

Unfortunately wood does move with changes in humidity, so anything that may have been flat and straight at one time will usually warp if you let it acclimate. If you buy quartersawn lumber, it won’t warp as much. At least if you stick with this for a while, you’ll eventually save money buying rough sawn or S2S over buying S4S from the home center.

-- Ask an expert or be the expert -

View bbasiaga's profile


729 posts in 1411 days

#3 posted 05-11-2015 09:19 PM

Usually, the S2S lumber has one face flattened, and an adjacent edge jointed 90 degrees to it. S3S (which I’ve never seen) would have the other face planed. S4S like at HD, Lowes and Menards, has all 4 sides worked on.

So on S2S, at a minium you need to plane flat the other side (if the wood has not cupped or warped since its initial milling), and rip the rough edge to your final width. In my experience, it still needs to be jointed, then planed.


-- Part of engineering is to know when to put your calculator down and pick up your tools.

View siki's profile


5 posts in 528 days

#4 posted 05-11-2015 09:34 PM

Thank you so much for all of your quick responses! So it looks like my suspicion was correct: there’s really no way around getting a jointer and a planer. It just makes starting up with woodworking so expensive…even if I buy most of my stuff used.

View gfadvm's profile


14924 posts in 2106 days

#5 posted 05-12-2015 12:06 AM

The planer will pay for itself quicker than any tool in your shop! You can joint boards with a planer and a simple sled. I bought the planer first and the jointer later as money allowed. Then I bought a bigger planer and a sawmill….......there is no end!

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View BroncoBrian's profile


435 posts in 1375 days

#6 posted 05-12-2015 12:30 AM

I don’t think you should expect any of the wood you buy to be jointed and planed. It will always have some wapr or cupping to it. Here is a good overview:

I agree with him, buy rougher cheaper stuff and you can make your own thickness.

-- Bigfoot tries to take pictures of me

View OSU55's profile


1039 posts in 1406 days

#7 posted 05-13-2015 02:07 AM

Get a planar first, and use a sled to face joint one side. You know how to joint edges with a hand plane (book end the pieces to be glued and they don’t have to be 90°). You may find a jointer unnecessary – I don’t need one. You will pay for the machines fairly quickly when saving $3-$6/board ft.

View siki's profile


5 posts in 528 days

#8 posted 05-13-2015 04:02 AM

Thanks again for all your suggestions! As I said, I actually have a jointer now. I just got a 6” Delta jointer in basically barely used condition off of Craigslist for $150. Just finished cleaning off the rust and it’s looking brand new – I just have to adjust it now. Next is a planer and I’m hoping to get a good deal on a used one.

View Purrmaster's profile


914 posts in 1509 days

#9 posted 05-13-2015 09:19 AM

S2S or S4S lumber is never really dead on square/flat. It might have been at one time but it’s going to move on you at some point.

Definitely get a planer. Your life will be so much easier with a planer. Lunchbox (table top) planers like mine are pretty much idiot proof too (a valuable feature for yours truly). You feed the wood in and catch it on the other end.

If you get a used planer you will almost certainly have to replace and/or sharpen the knives. If it’s a small DeWalt or Ridgid planer the knives are disposable and you can pick up a new set.

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