Looking at Wood

I began this project like every other- looking at wood. Though some level of intimacy with wood is inescapable, my interest in these boards is practical, not spiritual. I’m looking for material that will require the least amount of effort to use. Because my “planers” can work stock of any width, I prefer wide boards like these 17″ wide pieces of tulip poplar. I find wide stock more attractive and it saves me the trouble of a glue-up. But I also need to look out for wild grain and knots. I can’t make joints in knots with my tools. I can’t make moldings through knots. I’d sooner resize my project than have a knot where I don’t want it.

Having super dry stock isn’t always an advantage. I find greener woods nicer to work with hand tools. If I perform my joinery correctly, the green stock will move together, causing no problems. Regardless of the moisture content, I expect my stock to move after I plane it. So I try to only plane what I can assemble in one day.

– Adam Cherubini

3 thoughts on “Looking at Wood

  1. Adam

    Jamie,

    You’re right, a lot of the wood in that rack is S4S and S2S. I buy rough when I can get it (just because its thicker) but a lot of places prefer to plane it so folks can see the beautiful grain. Alas! Most of that is stickered- a least the wide pieces and the mahogany. There’s pine and cedar from the local home center carelessly stored on edge. Frankly, I’ve done this for years and I’ve never had any problems – but that doesn’t mean its a good idea.

    I typically buy stock with specific projects and specific parts of projects in mind. I look for straight grained pieces whose edges are free of knots. You can find good useable lumber even in your local home center. The wider pieces are usually cut from the center of the tree. Ripping those down results in good quatersawn stock. The narrow boards are usually sapwood and as such are prone to cupping. I avoid those and recommend you do the same.

    Some of my stock is air dried, some kiln dried, some seems to have come from an autoclave- it has this hard dry outer layer- its nasty. My green wood comes from local tree guys, some of whom have band saw mills (this is a smart move, I think when they know how and what to saw). But the lion’s share comes from my backyard. Don’t think I’ve built a project that diddn’t include some wood from my backyard or my neighbors’. When I need maple 4x4x6" for a bun foot, where do you find that? Or a thick piece for a molding?

    Did I answer everybody’s question? If not, give me a holler!

    Adam

  2. Andy

    Hi Adam,
    My question is related to Jamey’s, above. In my area, I have found sources of (in increasing order of price) green, rough lumber; air-dried rough lumber; kiln-dried rough lumber; and kiln-dried surfaced lumber. I have never seen greener woods available as S4S lumber, so I wonder what kind of source you have found.
    Also, could you post some tips regarding choosing S4S lumber most efficiently (if this is what you are doing). I was used to acquiring rough lumber where moderate wind or even bowing was irrelevant since the boards were wide enough to leave me plenty of wiggle-room during the process of preparing them for use. When I recently picked out some S3S boards at around 3/4 thickness, I failed to take into account that even a small amount of bow would make the board less useful for many applications where longer length is called for.
    Thanks,
    Andy

Comments are closed.