Woodworking 101: My Class at Palomar College #4: Lumber Selection

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by WayneS posted 09-14-2007 01:39 AM 2709 reads 0 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 3: Project Selection Part 4 of Woodworking 101: My Class at Palomar College series Part 5: Snap, Crackle, and Pop »

Let me start by saying that this post will once again be short on photos. You’ll understand why after reading, but I just wanted to apologize up front to those that like the visual aspect of blogs.

I spent yesterday and today trying to decide on what lumber to use for my project. In the end it has been a wonderful learning experience, and ended with me feeling excited about my selection, but along the way it was a bit nerve racking.

This being my first project, I want it to turn out great, and be something I can be proud of for a lifetime. I realize that placing such high expectations on something you are doing for the first time is probably not the best idea, but that’s just the way I am.

My hunt for the perfect stock started yesterday with several trips through the schools supply of lumber – both Urban Forestry Lumber, and lumber they have purchased for resale. Let’s just say that I didn’t find anything that gave me a warm and fuzzy feeling on my first run through. From the start I have wanted to use a piece of Carolina Cherry that was processed by the schools Urban Forestry Program (UFP). For one, it would help support the program, and two, it just seems like a cool addition to my first project.

During yesterday’s hunt, all of the Carolina Cherry that was visible on the pallets that recently came out of the kilns didn’t look like what I had envisioned, so I left a little disappointed, dejected, and rethinking my plans.
Needless to say I spent a lot of time last night thinking about what I was going to do. Regular Cherry? Walnut? Black Acacia? …what the heck was I gonna do?

Fast forward to today. Today was my first day volunteering for the UFP, and as serendipity would have it, my first task was to unload that pallet of Carolina Cherry. As we dove into the pile and began placing it in the storage racks, a treasure trove of beautiful boards began to appear. I was once again excited.

After getting a firsthand look at every piece in the lot, I decided on three pieces. My project calls for 10 board feet, but I purchased a little more so I can be selective with my cuts, and maybe get a head start on another project or two. Below are pictures of the pieces. I took these while on my way out today, so the quality is lacking, but I will get better shots before I start milling it next week. To me they are just what I was searching for. I would love to hear some feedback on them from others. I realize that it will be difficult to analyze them from these photos, and the fact that they haven’t been planed, but hopefully some of you will have some comments.




Among the three pieces, I have one that is 4/4 12” x 6’, and one that is 4/4 11” x 8’. The other piece is 4/4 and about 36” long. From the small piece I am really only looking to get something really interesting to book match for my dial face.

With the selection of my lumber complete, I will start the process of turning it into a beautiful clock next week. I promise to include a photo tour of the shop I will be working in next week, complete with pictures of a huge 30” planer from a World War II battleship.

I’d also like to tell you all about my first day volunteering with the UFP today.

WOW …what a great way to learn about lumber. In six hours I got the chance to put my hands on and get a close up look at: Cherry, Carolina Cherry, Black Acacia, Walnut, Ash, Elm, Live Oak, Black Oak, Red Oak, Torrey Pine, Canary Island Pine, Poplar, Mahogany, African Mahogany, Birch, Maple, Cypress, and a few others. What better way to learn to recognize species of wood than moving a few hundred board feet of each one around.

I also got a good feel for the difference in density among the various species. Let’s just say I have a new found respect for an 8/4 piece of Ash that is 24” x 10’. We moved about 10 of those bad boys.

My plan is to volunteer at least one day a week for the duration of the semester. I think the learning experience will be invaluable.

Until next week, keep making saw dust.

-- Wayne - Newbie looking to learn!

10 comments so far

View mot's profile


4918 posts in 4207 days

#1 posted 09-14-2007 04:12 AM

Another great blog entry, Wayne. I’m glad you found wood that pleased you. Good luck on your project!

-- You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. (Plato)

View Buckskin's profile


486 posts in 4158 days

#2 posted 09-14-2007 04:53 AM

From the looks of the grain in your selection it looks like you are going to have a sharp looking clock. I can’t wait to see it.

View David's profile


1969 posts in 4309 days

#3 posted 09-14-2007 06:32 AM

Wayne -

Great story and photos! I love cherry and that is some nice looking wood. Very cool to see a photo of the wood with “PAID” and your name written in chalk! Have to include that in the future blogs on your project.



View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 4133 days

#4 posted 09-14-2007 02:17 PM


Great blog! From the looks of the wood you chose, I’d say you will have a very interesting clock. That is some wild grain in that Cherry. You will learn a lot handling boards. You will learn more by going through the whole process from sawmill to finished product. Keep them coming we’re all learning along with you.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View Bill's profile


2579 posts in 4332 days

#5 posted 09-14-2007 04:35 PM

Great story Wayne. What excellent opportunities you have, first you are going to that school, and then you volunteer for the forestry project too. I can’t wait for the next part of the story.

-- Bill, Turlock California,

View MsDebbieP's profile


18616 posts in 4331 days

#6 posted 09-18-2007 01:04 PM

excellent blog entry.
I’m excited for you.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View Myron Wooley's profile

Myron Wooley

226 posts in 4066 days

#7 posted 10-03-2007 01:31 AM

Wayne, your blog posts are great!
I took the CFT100 and CFT105 classes last year, and this semester I’m in the Finishing (Wed. nights) and Jigs & Fixtures (Thurs. nights) classes. What a great opportunity to learn, not only from the talented instructors, but also from the incredible range of experience among the students.

BTW, that Carolina Cherry is some HARD wood!


-- The days are long and the years are short...

View Jeff's profile


1010 posts in 4264 days

#8 posted 10-03-2007 02:14 AM

Great blog. Great sticks. Good luck with the clock! As a wood selection newbie myself this story has wonderful value. I look forward to your next enrty.

-- Jeff, St. Paul, MN

View gizmodyne's profile


1780 posts in 4260 days

#9 posted 10-03-2007 04:43 AM

What’s the update on class?

-- -John "Do I have to keep typing a smiley? Just assume it's a joke."

View WayneC's profile


13776 posts in 4268 days

#10 posted 10-27-2007 05:50 AM

How is the class going?

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

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