Preparing Stock for a Table – Episode 1

Table Stock Prep 1

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There are a number of things to consider when selecting the materials such as checking for surface defects, cups, hollows and twist in the boards. With the stock for the table top selected, Paul shows how he goes about flattening the surface using the scrub plane and winding sticks.


  1. Eddy Flynn on 15 April 2015 at 6:28 pm

    now that’s what i call dedication to the craft,Paul you put men half you age to shame with your commitment thank you for sharing this part of the build.

    • keakap on 17 April 2015 at 5:26 am

      Holy moly what a workout! I’m heading right downstairs to the den and taking a nap!

    • muhammadkm on 12 November 2017 at 12:39 am

      Hat off to Mr and teacher Paul.
      Not only teaches us woodwork but also perseverance and good mentality.

  2. Mooncabbage on 15 April 2015 at 8:07 pm

    I’ve always wanted to know how long that panel saw was. Now I do!

  3. Craig on 15 April 2015 at 8:08 pm

    I’m outa breath just watching that.
    10 minutes of that and I’d be digging the Makita out of its case, but I certainly admire the stamina. 🙂

  4. David Perrott on 15 April 2015 at 8:40 pm

    Looking forward to watching it. This step has been my nemesis!

  5. Michael Barnes on 15 April 2015 at 8:48 pm

    I enjoyed this video and I really love the idea of preparing stock by hand but surely there comes a point when using a machine to do the donkey work is just plain sensible….

    • Joe Kaiser on 16 April 2015 at 4:35 pm

      For some people, yes. But not all of us have room or the money for machines. Myself, I have done two table tops now and quite enjoy the process of working it by hand. It is a great workout, and very relaxing

    • paddy on 16 April 2015 at 5:52 pm

      Michael, I use machines to prepare stock, but how many people got a planer and thicknesser that can take such wide boards? It would be a real shame to have to rip them to one foot widths just to put them through machines.

  6. Ian Lambert on 15 April 2015 at 8:54 pm

    Really good to see you working with these big boards. I’ll be really interested to see how the tear out in the tricky grain areas cleans up. Great fitness campaign too!

  7. sodbuster on 15 April 2015 at 10:04 pm

    Great fun! I have been looking at the drawknife hanging on the cupboard door and wondering when or if it would be put to use. I’m happy to see it in action, and doubly happy that I have one already. I expect the ebay price is about to jump…

    One question – I see that the pith of the tree is contained in at least one plank (middle board, view at 31:06 of the video). What are the pro’s cons of using a board with pith in it? The quarter-sawn grain is lovely but I worry a bit about rot and soft spots with the pith. Any comments would be most welcome.

  8. odysseus on 15 April 2015 at 10:23 pm

    Very useful to see this and to learn of various tactics to correct problems. A oak tree blew over and I am hoping to get some planks from it so the lesson is particularly useful although I will have to wait for the wood to dry.

  9. STEVE MASSIE on 15 April 2015 at 10:27 pm

    I am looking forward to this table build. I am with you Paul I have 4 short panel saw’s 16″ – 20″ in length and they are my favorite size for bench work. I do have a Stanley scrub plane, and a spare #4 I want to convert.

    I started my winding sticks but got delayed with being in and out of the Hospital for the last couple months, hopefully Friday the Doctor will release me so I can get back in the shop to finish them. I do have a couple I made from aluminum angle but nothing beats the appearance of nice wood ones.


  10. norm lafond on 15 April 2015 at 10:37 pm

    Does this mean that this is the beginning of a table making project? And we will be preparing our stock as a first step? Just curious where we are going next.

    • Philip Adams on 16 April 2015 at 12:36 pm

      Hello Norm. This and next week’s episode lead into a Trestle Dining Table project, but the principles can be applied to stock preparation for any table project so we have put it up somewhat separately.

  11. SharpPencil on 15 April 2015 at 11:42 pm

    Paul is surely from an era when ‘men were men and boys were boys’ but a man would by guidance discipline and good example make a boy a man.

    Or as he says there is no point to a blunt pencil……..amazing man us Paul

  12. Jerry Gioia Sr on 16 April 2015 at 1:22 am

    There are few men left with you’re kind of love and dedication for their craft. I sincerely hope that the young men and women who what your videos appreciate your hard work and tremendous skill.

  13. russ on 16 April 2015 at 2:38 am

    Take a break after that last bit. Nice camera work to let us see what Paul was seeing.

  14. Wesley on 16 April 2015 at 7:16 am

    Yesterday i had a bit of “Bill shock” when i ordered some nice oak and mahogany. I keep forgetting how expensive wood can be.

    … And then you see the 40″ wide 1 1/8″ thick boards in this video. I just got bill shocked on Paul’s behalf.

  15. Christopher on 16 April 2015 at 3:21 pm

    Thank you Paul for doing this video. Not only are there just gobs and gobs of great information but technics and the fact that you can use some of the cracks and imperfections as a focal point. I bought half of a chestnut tree that’s all quatersawn with panels as wide as 20″ and some of them have thei exact same challenges as your boards , so I was glad to see how to deal with them and to see them as a positive instead of a negative and using hand tools to do so. This very well might have been the best learning experience I’ve had since I started woodworking.
    Many thanks for listening,

  16. johnnyr on 16 April 2015 at 5:11 pm

    I have to compliment on the great camera work. Makes it so easy to see what you are seeing. I have made this comment in the past but here goes again. If I were given a choice of having your website and pay for it and given all other websites available on the internet and could only do one or the other, I would pay for yours and forgo all the others . I’ve learned so many ways to do things watching you. Thanks for your dedication and easygoing teaching methods

  17. jmahoney on 16 April 2015 at 8:00 pm

    I find it’s always the most beautiful part of a piece of wood that fights the plane the most. Sure could have used the the last 3-4 minutes of this video a week ago on one of my own projects. It is fairly rewarding to see the same effect in something that was learned the hard way in comparison to something thing being taught by a master. I find the tear out is usually less when you use the plane to more or less pare across the grain. I have a feeling a cabinet scraper will be coming along. Though I’ve wondered about using a No. 70 box scraper to hog off the majority of torn out grain in preparation to the No. 80.

  18. Joel Finkel on 17 April 2015 at 3:14 am

    John Maynard Hutchins, former President of the University of Chicago, one famously said, “Every time I get the urge to exercise I quick sit down until the urge goes away.” I don’t think he was a woodworker.

  19. swr123 on 17 April 2015 at 8:18 am

    I know others have said this already, but I wanted to add my appreciation as well.
    The content is excellent as always, but also the quality of the production, the video work, sound quality, editing are all first class. These are some of the best instructional videos there are.

  20. Joel Finkel on 17 April 2015 at 2:18 pm

    I was very interested to see the close-up of the “diamond in the rough” area at the end of the board (and the end of the video). It gives us an idea of how much tear-out is acceptable at this stage of the preparation. I would be freaking out to see that much tear-out. I look forward to seeing it resolved into a “diamond.”

  21. werewolf2o on 17 April 2015 at 6:43 pm

    Hi Paul
    Nice work as usual.
    Where would I source wood of a similar size and quality?
    What is deemed a reasonable price?
    In my area Stevenage we have little choice B&Q, Wickes and Hertfordshire Timber all of which I can get pine ext. but Oak and other hardwood species are harder to source.

    many thanks

    • George Bridgeman on 17 April 2015 at 7:16 pm

      Hi Paul,

      Try looking for a local saw mill. Failing that, eBay might be your best bet. Search for ‘kiln dried oak’, sort by distance. Just be prepared for a shock on the price because you might need to buy a fair bit in one order.

      Hope this helps.


    • cushniedave on 21 April 2015 at 1:24 pm

      I’ll be milling and drying oak and beech from the ardennes forest later this year

  22. SharpPencil on 17 April 2015 at 10:50 pm

    Hi Paul

    I recently sold various tools on eBay, one item was a vintage brace and set of auger bits. I had a question from a bidder…..from Tel-Aviv in Israel. He explained that he wanted to start a collection of hand tools, as he sounded very enthusiastic I replied to his emails saying that he should watch Mr Paul Sellers for instruction for his new hobby. He replied that he had watched Paul for hours and he was the very reason he wanted to collect only hand tools.
    His problem was a very poor supply in that part of the world and that HE LIVED ON THE 7th FLOOR OF A BLOCK OF FLATS WORKING OFF HIS DINNING TABLE
    I also sold a Stanley No 4 to Germany and a 17″ wooden plane locally, this was picked up and before long we were talking about Paul and the buyer, with a great look of pride told me that he subscribes to Paul’s Masterclass

    I have spent hours on Utube looking at carpentry ‘instruction’ and not one person can come anywhere near Paul’s……you are the master and with your class, class as in tutorial and class as in quality…….thank you John

  23. Gareth Martin on 17 April 2015 at 11:06 pm

    I’m still recovering from shaping the legs on the footstool and now this!

  24. Gareth Martin on 18 April 2015 at 10:40 am

    No….seriously, I’ve watched this again and I’ve decided that no matter how hard it looks, the sweat and the strain, I’d better get this done before I’m physically unable. So tomorrow I’m grasping the nettle and starting the process…..of making a pair of winding sticks.

  25. pauluss on 19 April 2015 at 5:22 pm

    What is the name of the device with teeth you have embedded in your bench to hold work? Where do I get one? I like the way you think out loud as you work — integral to the teaching process.

    • nathanielliper on 19 April 2015 at 7:20 pm

      Hi Carolyn,

      It is a mortised bench stop. You can get one at Lee Valley/Veritas. They are currently back ordered, but should be resupplied in a couple months.

      • nathanielliper on 19 April 2015 at 7:21 pm
        • davedev on 21 April 2015 at 12:46 am

          I bought and installed one of these bench stops on Paul’s recommendation, but don’t like it at all. It’s quite fiddly to raise and lower and fills with shavings and dust which have to be cleared out before it can be lowered. Much simpler is a home made plug which can be inserted in a hole and which Paul has made a video on, so I don’t know why he is recommending this!

          • SharpPencil on 22 April 2015 at 9:09 pm

            Paul gives us good advice based on his experience, he shows how to complete work using different tools on the basis that we may not have a particular type.
            In short there is more than one way…….Paul show us so we can choose for ourselves

          • jenewman2 on 23 April 2015 at 11:51 am

            Perhaps it’s the slight advantage in the teeth of the mortised bench stop. The teeth seem to give just enough purchase in the end of the board to keep it from sliding side to side. Those of us with more time on our hands would just add a couple clamps or other restraints, but watching Paul whip those big slabs around and get right at the planing makes the mortised bench stop look pretty efficient.

  26. advirmachina on 20 April 2015 at 2:09 pm

    Is there any chance of a video explaining how you sharpen that drawknife?

    • SueinNC on 21 April 2015 at 4:10 am

      oh yes please, draw knife sharpening and what to look for at the “flea market” would be wonderful.

      • Thomas Angle on 30 August 2016 at 9:44 pm

        You look for the same things as when looking at a plane iron. The main thing is no or very little pitting in the blade. The more pitting you have (especially on the non-bevel side) the more you will have to grid off.

        You can remove the rust with a soak in distilled white vinegar overnight. Then hitting it with a wire wheel. Just keep the wooden handles out of the vinegar.

    • Thomas Angle on 30 August 2016 at 9:39 pm

      I sharpen mine with a diamond plate. I have a steel vise and made a single plate holder that I place in the vise. It sets up high enough to clear the handles when I run the knife across the plate.

  27. mike melendrez on 21 April 2015 at 4:01 pm

    Great project Paul. I use my draw knives all the time. It is fascinating to use rough material. This video has come at the perfect time because one of my daughters just asked me to build her a dinning table. I will be searching for lumber. Thank you.

  28. jenewman2 on 22 April 2015 at 12:33 pm

    I was so afraid you were going to flip the board over and do the second side live. I’m knackered.
    But it was so reassuring to see the spirit of the wood grain check the plain so often. I have wondered if it was just my lagging strength when it happens to me working in oak and walnut or even around knots in pine.

  29. tmpt on 23 April 2015 at 9:06 pm

    Hats off to you Paul. You are exactly one month older than me and I can plane exactly 1/10th of a board that size before crying “uncle”! Nice work. On the next video.

  30. rasberrc on 24 April 2015 at 2:46 am

    Are there any plans for the table project?

  31. Joab Oberlander on 24 April 2015 at 7:37 pm

    Great videos. Would you please post your drawings and cut list for the trestle table you are building? Thanks

  32. alansmith on 26 April 2015 at 4:52 am

    Wow Paul, I believe you’ve just invented a new fitness craze. Let’s call it “Cross-Grain Fit”! Great work…

  33. António on 29 August 2016 at 3:45 pm

    Thank You Mr Sellers and WWMC team

  34. Thom Spillane on 30 August 2016 at 12:38 am

    This was such a all a round great lesson on what to look for and when you get a problem area how to work with it. Paul you are such an amazing inspiration watching you work on this board not only did I learn a lot of new ideas but you made me tired watching only kidding I just have to run to the workshop and go have some fun myself. Thank you so much for everything you do for us.

  35. Eddie Houston on 30 August 2016 at 4:17 am

    A very timely and appreciated video series. I plan to make a dining table using wide planks from tree(s) harvested from our property.

  36. Jason Theriot on 30 August 2016 at 3:43 pm

    Great video Mr. Paul, thanks for sharing. Now I’m probably the baby here at 33 and I’m from a very small town in southern Louisiana so this may explain why I have no clue what “shirkie” means. Lol. Can someone of the wiser gentleman hekp a youngster out please.

  37. Kevin Jehnzen on 30 August 2016 at 5:57 pm

    At about the 1 hour point, Paul speaks about a probable cause for the ‘hump’. Running a small woodmizer bandsaw mill, I have seen this happen. The blade will take the path of least resistance and ride above (or below) the knot; the knot being much harder to cut. Proper blade tension is important, sharpness more so. A sharp blade will pull through straight, even under low tension. A dull blade will wander even under the highest tension.

    Superb video.

  38. M N on 30 August 2016 at 8:02 pm

    Excellent video and explanation. Thank you so much for all the shared wisdom. It is a privilege watching your video’s.

    Greetings from the Netherlands,


  39. Alexandre Freire on 31 August 2016 at 9:19 am

    Paul, you are a BEAST of a man. And our hero.

  40. Ian West on 31 August 2016 at 12:17 pm

    I notice that Paul comments several times about thinking ahead in relation to board thickness,grain direction etc and visualising the end product. This led me to think also of the size of the finished product. This is quite a sizeable table, in both dimension and weight which begs the question, will the framework of the table be constructed in such a way that it can be dismantled in order to pass it through doorways etc. If this is the first of several episodes to completion then perhaps it’s a question ‘watch this space’.

    For Jason. To ‘shirk ‘ is to avoid doing difficult things. There is a saying that perhaps describes this i.e.’ never do today, that which you can put off till to-morrow’ if at all.

  41. Bob Matthews on 1 September 2016 at 12:01 am

    Simply superb Paul, I loved every minute of it.

  42. Gary Mercer on 1 September 2016 at 7:31 pm

    Paul, What I love about watching your videos is your unending commitment to sharing all your thoughts about what you are thinking as you teach. It’s like I am there as you are doing any process and you are talking to me as you show me. What a rare person you are! Bless you and all your staff!

  43. martin schulman on 4 September 2016 at 11:24 am

    As I watch the work of minutely going over the plank I was a little confused as to whether Paul was using a regular or scrub plane to work out the bulk of the defects. Any insights? Thanks in advance.
    By the way, Paul’s workout here is remeniscent of the days of “ships of wood, men of steel” Bravo.

    • Philip Adams on 6 September 2016 at 4:53 pm

      Hi Martin. Paul is using the scrub plane. Paul discusses this at 52:35. Thanks

  44. Mohyudin Dingle on 13 June 2017 at 8:59 am

    Great to see this process in full with all its problems, decisions and challanges with a full running commentary. Very many thanks to Paul and the team

  45. ted clawton on 23 January 2018 at 7:21 am

    50:00 until he cuts through: Paul doing his best Roy Underhill impression 😀 really, though, we all get tired, it’s okay that you do too, and your interludes were very intelligently done, love this video. BTW Roy Underhill, as much as he inspired me an many others, he is a fairy, Paul is a true Master XD

  46. Zdenko Tudor on 22 May 2018 at 11:49 pm

    I am confused. Can anyone help me out. At 6min Paul puts a 1/4″ chisel under the winding sticks to find out how much twist he has. But he then procedes to say that he should take 1/8″ out on the side where the chisel is and on the diagonal corner. I would think that he would take down the opposite side of the winding stick to where his chisel is.

    Lifting the winding stick with a chisel on one side should correspond to taking it down on the opposite side – no?

    • Ed on 23 May 2018 at 1:49 am

      @ZDENKOTUDOR I think you are correct. Normally, our attention goes to the high side of the winding sticks because we can plane that corner and its opposite mate to true the face. When Paul put the chisel under the winding stick for sake of demonstration, it took his attention to that side and then I think he simply misspoke, working reflexively from where his attention was.

    • Philip Adams on 23 May 2018 at 12:35 pm

      Zdenko and Ed, you have it spot on, Paul misspoke.

  47. Michael Higgins on 8 June 2019 at 6:10 pm

    Hi All,

    I’ve just begun watching this series, roughly 40 mins in. Fantastic information as always. Out of curiousity, what species of lumber is Paul using?

    Thank you.


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