Hand Tools Archive

Choosing lumber for project *PIC*

Bill Tindall, E.Tn.
Recently we engaged in a discussion on how the Period woodworkers chose wood for drawers and sides. I can add some insight.

The goal is to flank this dandy piece of rock with two walnut strips to frame it for a table top. The rock thickness requires 6/4 lumber source. I did not have any 6/4. The choice was plane down 8/4 or squeeze by with 5/4. I did have a nice piece of quartered 5/4 cut a bit heavy. However......

When I ripped the plank to make one strip I encountered this knot in the edge. Not to worry I could turn this edge in.

When planing to thickness this knot showed up. I can turn this face down. I did have to be careful cutting to length that his knot did not show up on the end.

One end did not clean up. I can turn this face down and smooth it with plane. Difference in thickness on the end will not be noticed.

One of the pieces was bowed about 3/16 along its length. I did not have enough thickness to joint this bow out. I got about 1/16" out by careful jointing and planing. The rest of the bow I will pull flat against the table frame.

I would have preferred less figure so as to not detract from the busy rock. I would have preferred to not have to have devoted so much thought in how to arrange defects to be unseen. In the end I wound up with the best I could do with what I had to do it with. This conclusion is what happens when one is building the figurative place to store socks for a customer without infinite lumber and time resources. Those guys in 1783 faced the same problem. In contrast the artsy woodworker of today may start with some bark edged #3 Common plank and turn it into an art project called a "table".

When we sold lumber it drove me nuts selling to the inexperienced woodworker. They demanded perfect lumber because they did not have the experience to make do with the less than perfect.

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Choosing lumber for project *PIC*
The stone
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