NEW MEMBER: General Question about wood selection and purchasing stock

Welcome! Forums Project Series Joiner’s Toolbox Project NEW MEMBER: General Question about wood selection and purchasing stock

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    I moved this from the project comments.
    it’s from a new member.
    I believe that his Use of “Maths” rather than “Math” puts him in the Uk rather than US – Probably

    Rowland Wallbank
    25 JULY 2017 AT 1:40 PM
    Hello Everyone,
    I have always wanted to work with wood, over 25 years ago a relative bought me some good quality hand-tools and Blizzards book of woodwork but the descriptions of joints and the prohibitive cost of wood for a novice stopped me taking the pastime up. I now have the time, tools and Youtube! My biggest dilemma (Dilemmna-Hello to Jason Isaacs) is buying the wood from a cut list. My maths isn’t great and I can’t visualise what can be made from what stock. Are there any lessons or techniques you can help with. On this project I’ve worked out that I can get away with 2x2350mm pre laminated 18x400mm boards for the big bits, but what of all the Dividers, tills, rails and so on?
    Your help would be much appreciated by someone who doesn’t have, and can’t afford a stockpile of wood to select from.
    Kind regards,

    Profile photo of stevewales
    26 JULY 2017 AT 10:08 PM
    Hi Rowly,
    Good For you for getting stuck in.
    Your mention of ‘pre-laminated’ , I’m going to presume you mean ‘Lamwood’ also know as ‘glulam’ in the structural wood world.

    Pine is the most readily available (and cheapest) but it does come in other (hard) woods.
    Paul has often said that the ‘Pine’ that is found in Uk suppliers is generally good quality slow growth North European.
    Using Pine (often referred to as just “Deal” – don’t know why — white deal or red deal)
    means there is a Large selection of “PAR”(Planed all Round) also known as 4Square in both timber/builders merchants and (more costly) Big DIY Chains.
    So you get a product that is (theoretically) already planed smooth and square on all faces.
    – the caveat is because depending on storage conditions (humidity) the timber will only be parallel across it’s width if it is kept at the same humidity as when it was put thru the Four head Planing machine in the first place.
    The most economical suppliers are typically builders merchants – the wood should be from a Covered Warehouse – NOT from stock left out to the elements.
    This Will Not Be as dry as when it was planed and will typically cupped/twisted warped to some extent.
    often If you ask the warehouse lads (And Put All The Boards Back Onto The stack), they will let you go through an open stack to select your own boards — Within reason

    As to sizes – bit odd but the width and thickness are often spoke of in inches and the length in meters.
    typically 1″by2″ 1″by4″ – 5 – 6 often you can get widths in 1″ increments to maybe 12″ — I tend not to go more than 6” if I’m needing a wide board, I would “Glue -Up” narrower stock.
    These thickness X width (in inches) Are NOT what you actually get — I know – I didn’t make up the rules!!
    Typically 1/4 inch is lost by the planing process so a 1″by6″ will actually be ‘about’ 3/4″by5 3/4″ Technically they are dimensioned in Metric but the old 1″by6″ is still widely used as it is easier to remember.
    Length is quoted in Meters as I said Typically 3.8M , 4.2M and I think even longer in some sizes.
    Thickness goes up in 1″ intervals (BTW ask for 4by2 not 2by4(novice mistake)
    You will find that the larger thicknesses tend to be in limited (smaller) widths — The Trees Just aren’t big enough anymore.
    SO, if you use the inch measurements Paul gives for widthxthickness of parts, you will find it easier to judge what ‘stock’ widths to buy so that you can plane down somewhat or rip saw down from wider stock that might be needed for wider parts of the project.
    You are stuck with the length of board – they will not sell less than the standard (The Diy stores Do sell ‘Project packs’ shrink wrapped so will be good and dry but very limited sizes )1×4, 1×6 2×4 maybe others -these packs are normally short lengths ?? 1.8m (is that 6″?).
    Although the LamWood panels may be a fair bit more expensive, if you go to a large DIY chain that has a “Panel Cutting Service” you can get your panels accurately ripped and cross cut to size — This may well be worth the extra for a first project since starting with square edged and accurately dimensioned main panels will greatly increase your success in this project.

    Hardwoods?? — Totally different story — price is generally quoted in ‘Board-Foot or cubic foot. Headache! A board foot is 12″ length of 12″wide 1″thick OR 24″length of 6″wide 1″thick Or 12″length of 6″wide 2″thick(more expensive as the thickness goes up) OR sums adding up to the same volume.
    A Cubic foot is NOT a foot thick.
    From a general timber/builders merchant you can typically ONLY get hardwood in ‘Rough Sawn’ state. Many timber suppliers will PAR it for you (At a Cost) — you need to leave the timber a bit ‘Fat’ as it will likely lose moisture during ‘Seasoning’ in the house/ garage the piece is intended for (2 weeks at least) DO THIS for Soft wood TOO.
    Hope this helps — Mine would not be an ‘authoritative’ discourse on matters Wood
    (I would still be at the ‘apprentice’ stage of this working of wood.

    Rowdy Whaleback

    Thanks for the very considered reply. Having read your advice and reading some experiences of others would the following make sense?
    A local company sells various woods but I would go with Redwood planed timber (here in the UK). They (RIDGEONS) helpfully put Nom and Fin sizes which I’m guessing means nominal and finished sizes. One writer mentioned getting 8″ boards of such and such length. You advise 6″ or so. Taking your advice about looking at the Thickness and Width it seems that nothing is over 1″ thick. By adding together a few widths and assuming that I glue 2 boards -lengthways- for the bigger panels 13.5 or 14 metres of 32×175(Nom) 27×169(Fin) 1 1/16″ x 6 3/4 should do it? This will require some ripping both length and width ways and quite a bit of planing. Thinking about the carcass I think getting rid of nearly half an inch of material would be daft. Wickes sell timberboard (50mm solid wood laminate strips glued together) 18mmx400mm which means that 2×2350 lengths should make the box, and at 18mm Paul mentions reducing the board by 4mm so I’m assuming this is the stuff he used. Using this means I will only need 5.5m of the 1″x6″.
    Sound right?

    Rowdy Whaleback

    Doh! Just watched episode one again which clearly shows Paul using 3/4 inch stock!


    It’s ALL here in Both the ‘Project’ and the ‘Tools and Techniques’ Videos — Paul’s Record of a true Craftsman going about his daily duty of training his apprentices (Us). Is a Peerless Repository of knowledge that has sadly been fading from our cultural ‘memory’ as the master craftsmen Quietly retired and their boxes of tools from a lifetime (at least) of use (often) picked over by – lets say ‘opportunistic entrepreneurs’ and fed into the EY BHAY machine.

    I have previously asked whether some kind of introductory Page or Video could be made to give some kind of guide to members who are joining.
    If you follow Paul’s Projects sequentially, He Introduces, then re-enforces each new technique as though to a ‘New’ apprentice – Also his “3 Joints” videos (Youtube or ?here) are ‘mandatory’

    If one simple ‘Cherry Picks’ a project then if the techniques needed for the project have already been dealt with, then obviously there will be a certain assumption on Paul’s part that you would already have had some practice in previous projects.

    Some kind of ‘Suggested Projects’ which encompass all the basic techniques – Stock preparation, laying out, Joinery techniques and Finishing would be a great start for a new member (If any of the “Crew” are reading this – maybe this is being considered?)

    Good luck with your project – use the Forum and the “crew” to suggest where particular techniques are covered.

    Rowdy Whaleback

    Thanks Steve, I have been working my way through various bit’s and pieces, making spoons, shooting boards, upgrading clamps and so on. I’ve also been to other sites where I have seen and made useful bench plane stops and so on. I made a yurt frame some time ago as well as various bits and pieces around the house so I’ve got lots of off-cuts and chunks of oak lying around. I haven’t yet found a video about how to buy timber from a pattern (cut-list) or how to work it out at least. I’m guessing it’s pretty impossible seeing as even the local suppliers around me seem to do different sizes!
    I suppose my question really comes down to the psychology of wood working and the economy of buying exactly the right materials without too much waste.
    Paul talks a great deal about accuracy. As a kid I grew up loving lego, everything was exactly rhe right size. I assumed that working with wood might not have been like this and a little more about making something from the wood you see. I have seen Paul buy lumber for his clock project and I suppose he has the benefit of selecting by eye what he wants. This particular project shows Paul copying dimensions so it was hard work for him too to make his timber conform to someone elses design.
    One day I hope to take part in one of his courses. It would be great if the team could address this, perhaps I will write to them…


    I think what some need to get their heads round is the Relative nature of the term ‘Accuracy’.
    The Organic nature of the material.

    An Engineer and a Woodworker will certainly differ in their interpretation of the term.
    Straight, Square stock, tight joints showing no gaps — Craftsmanship.
    BUT — Wood goes about it’s own buisness Regardless of our needs.

    Paul is lucky enough to work in a fairly stable environment (You will see on a couple of videos him showing a ‘cupped’ board that he had only planed flat the day before). Many of us are not.
    I always keep my semi-finished stock (Planed 4SQ. but left ‘Fat) in the place the piece is intended for –At least 2weeks.
    I also bring in from my workshop any pieces I’m working on (Moisture level is too high in workshop)
    Modern Centrally heated housed can be Very dry environments and pieces made in a more humid one can suffer as a consequence.

    There is software available for producing cutlists from stock — Most useful for plywood/sheet material (cutlist for example)

    You need to work from your cutlist — find the widest piece that you are going to make from ONE width (not glued up to width) — you are going to Have to buy this width.
    For softwood (Pine, deal whatever it’s called) you can choose a width that is close to this requirement and use the extra by ripping it to other required widths.
    THERE is Always ‘Waste’.
    This waste is often found in other subsequent projects or small shop aids/tools — even for firewood.
    It’s a mental exercise to some extent.
    Enjoy the Process.

    Debra J

    When I bought the wood for my workbench, I made two trips. I initially picked up enough for the benchtop and apron laminations and almost enough for the legs. It took me a long while to get the top and aprons actually glued up. By the time I got around to working on the legs, the 2×4’s had twisted so bad I decided to get fresh ones. I cut up the twisty boards for the leg frame top crossrails and bearers after a lot of planing. I wound up with a different species for the legs and lower crossrails, clearly a differnt color than the aprons and top. But it actually looks nice together and my bench is coming along.

    So in the end, even though my cut list told me to go get so many 2×4 boards, I still went back for more. And that’s okay.

    - Debra J

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