Dimensioning Stock

By Lonnie Bird

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There are many skills you need to master on the road to producing furniture you can be proud of, but at the heart of the process is the ability to dimension lumber. If you can't make your stock fiat, true and square, your joints won't quite fit right, your parts will end up slightly misaligned and the final result will be a disappointment.

"Hut," you're thinking. "I buy milled boards at the lumberyard. They're already flat and true...right?" The answer is: Don't count on it. Most lumber sold as S2S or S4S (surfaced two or four sides) is not guaranteed straight or flat. And even if it were, lumber can warp as the moisture content changes or as you release the stress in the wood by sawing it to size.

You're better off dimensioning your own stock, cither by remilling surfaced boards (you'll need to buy them oversized in thickness and width), or by working rough-sawn lumber. Fortunately, dimensioning lumber is simple if you work through this progression of jointing, planing and sawing:

STEP 1: Rough-Cutting the Stock

Since your wood may move after you saw it, the first thing you want to do is rough-cut the boards close to finished dimension, then sticker them on a flat surface for a few days. That way any wood movement will occur before you start the trueing process. As a general rule, keep your parts 1 in. oversize in length and xh in. over in width.

I use the radial arm saw to cut stexk to length because it'll handle long boards easily, but you could use a crosscut box on the tablesaw (see AW June 1990) or a sliding compound-miter saw. From the radial arm saw I move to the tablesaw and rip the stock to rough width. If a board is severely warped, use the bandsaw instead, to avoid binding and possible kickback.

STEP 2: Jointing One Face

Once the stock has had a few days to settle, it is ready for jointing. This step is the most critical in producing a flat board, and proper jointer setup is the first step toward getting that flat surface. So, before you start the machinc, check that the infeed and outfeed tables arc parallel to each other, and that the knives are level with the outfeed table. (For more on tuning a jointer, see AW «3, July/August 1988.) Then lower the infeed table: For rough stock, set the table for a heavy cut—% in. or so will work. If your board is relatively smooth, take a lighter cut. When you're ready to make your final pass, you'll want to raise the table for a 'Ai-in. or finer cut, feeding the board slowly and steadily.

Next, sight along the board to determine what type of warp it has. A board may have cup, bow, or twist, as the drawing below shows. And many times you find that a single board has all three types of warp.

If the board is cupped but relatively straight, you'll want to place the cupped side down to prevent rocking, and distribute pressure along the length of the board as

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Woodworking Tools and Installation Tips

Woodworking Tools and Installation Tips

There are a lot of things that either needs to be repaired, or put together when youre a homeowner. If youre a new homeowner, and have just gotten out of apartment style living, you might want to take this list with you to the hardware store. From remolding jobs to putting together furniture you can use these 5 power tools to get your stuff together. Dont forget too that youll need a few extra tools for other jobs around the house.

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