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Thread: Do You Mill Your Own Lumber?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
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    Do You Mill Your Own Lumber?

    About 8 years ago I remodeled our kitchen. It was a big job with a huge island. Used 500-600 BF of Euro steamed beach. I justified purchasing a 15" planer and 8" jointer for this project. I actually enjoyed milling my own lumber especially knowing everything was to the same size. Since the big kitchen project I have done smaller projects and had the opportunity to use the jointer/planer on rough sawn lumber I picked up on lumber runs.

    Past couple weeks I have been working with my son on a couple of cabinets for him. We had to mill some lumber and it really hit me the amount of time it took even with a helper to mill the lumber (ha, maybe because I want his cabinets out of my garage/shop and in his basement).

    So I'm contemplating selling my jointer and planer (probably jointer first) because of:


    • Added time to a project.
    • Space the tools take up.
    • The pain to take the tools out and put them away in a small garage/shop (especially the jointer).
    • For some reason lack of lumber runs.
    • Have found out local hardwood supplier will join/plane for reasonable price (although his wood is more expensive than I got on lumber run deals).
    • Bought a nice lathe about 6 years ago and don't find enough time to turn because of all the flat work projects I have.


    Anyone else go through the same thing? Will I regret getting rid of them?

    Thanks,
    Mike

  2. #2
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    Nov 2009
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    Peoria, IL
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    I buy all my hardwoods, hit of miss planed to 15/16" thick. I insist on surfacing it myself to get high quality flat and straight stock.

  3. #3
    You will absolutely regret getting rid of them. I couldn't work without a jointer and a planer and I buy kiln dried wood surfaced 3 sides. No matter what you purchase, you get stuff that's not perfect and a jointer and planer will get you there. Also, sometimes you want your wood a size that you don't have.

    I'd even add a drum sander to the "needed" shop tools for preparing wood. Sometimes the planer will cause tearout and the drum sander saves the day to get it to the final dimension without divots in the surface.

    Mike

    [The alternative is to prepare your stock by hand but that's a lot of work and time. No fun in my book.]
    Last edited by Mike Henderson; 01-06-2020 at 1:43 PM.
    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
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    North Alabama
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    My local hardwood supplier, a very nice family operation, skip planes its lumber. That's nice, but there's more work for me to do to get uniform thickness, especially if 3/4-7/8" isn't my target thickness, and to get a nice surface. My other option would be the project lumber from the big box, which is limited in species, available only in 3/4" thickness, overpriced, and very likely not straight and flat.

    I have two jointers and two planers, which in my case is an excess, but reducing to zero isn't an option for the work I like to do.

    Edit: I agree with Mike on the value of a drum sander, even though I don't get along with mine very well.
    Chuck Taylor

  5. #5
    I wouldn't ever want someone else determining how my lumber was milled. Not being able to mill my own would drastically reduce the quality of my work.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2017
    Location
    Prairie Village, KS
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    I enjoy the milling process and there is nowhere around here to get good, milled lumber that is actually straight and true. Most of the dealers just skip plane which is pointless IMO. I buy everything rough. Yeah, it takes longer but I feel like I get much better quality.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2016
    Location
    Lebanon, TN
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    580
    Yes, when possible I buy rough sawn and mill it to size on my J/P.

    Yes, it can be tedious, but i consider it part of the process.

    If you are short on space, sell both machines and get a Jointer/Planer combo. That's what I did, moved from a 6" Jet Jointer and Dewalt 735 to a Hammer A3-31. Different machine on all levels, but it gave me some space back.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2018
    Location
    Orwell, NY
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    256
    When I saw the title I thought you were talking about milling logs into boards. I do that too, but a lot of the wood I use for my gainful employment is bought in because I don't have all of the trees that I need growing here (curly maple, walnut, African mahogany, cherry etc). I would never want to be without a jointer and planer and drum sander, there are a lot of times that I need them for things other than initial lumber preparation, and even then I like to be able to buy cheaper wood and have the flexibility to make it whatever thickness I need, and then smooth and flatten it again.
    Zach

  9. #9
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    Jun 2015
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    Sacramento, CA
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    I buy all my solid wood S3S and even if only for thickness uniformity between boards when building a project Id keep the planer. Since my unit is a combo jointer/planer, that means I keep both!
    If at first you don't succeed, redefine success!

  10. #10
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    Toronto Ontario
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    Hi Mike, I thought you meant converting trees into boards, and yes I do that.

    I then joint and plane it to desired dimensions.

    I bought a Hammer A3-31 Jointer/Planer about 12 years ago, great machine, saves space.

    I couldn't imagine not having a jointer and planer...............Rod.

  11. #11
    Join Date
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisA Edwards View Post
    Yes, when possible I buy rough sawn and mill it to size on my J/P.

    Yes, it can be tedious, but i consider it part of the process.

    If you are short on space, sell both machines and get a Jointer/Planer combo. That's what I did, moved from a 6" Jet Jointer and Dewalt 735 to a Hammer A3-31. Different machine on all levels, but it gave me some space back.
    As a tool "junkie" this may be the ticket!

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
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    Columbus, OH
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    I buy rough sawn exclusively now and do all the milling myself. I was having to mill the s2s I was buying anyway. And the 8/4 rough sawn I get is actally 2 1/8" - 2 1/4" vs the s2s 8/4 @ 1 13/16" which gives me more flexibility and some cost savings as the rough sawn is cheaper than the s2s per bf.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
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    WV
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    I think the question is really dependant on the project. There is no way in the world other than for extremely high end boutique/furniture work, you can cost effectively mill from rough with a commodity planer and jointer. Its just not possible. Our mill runs a massive double sided planer with on-board sharpening, and SLR and there is simply no way I could handle the chips and off falls alone from dead rough for what they charge to surface. Your talking drums and drums and drums of chips for a thousand feet of material. Forget about the knives and the labor.

    If your worried about being able to have some room to play with have them skip it to 15/16 or 7/8 and straight line it and at least your 2/3 of the way there.

    If your dealing with something super custom, thick, etc, thats one thing. But for commodity 4/4 5/4 6/4 8/4 its just a waste of time.

    We get packs of 4/4 FAS Cherry in at 13/16" and boards that are clear for 12-14', 12"-20" wide, dead clear, clean straight to the saw, and often times can skip the wide belt they are so smooth. Hard maple that goes straight to drawer boxes.

    Surfacing material (my jointer has 3" of crap stacked on it and hasnt been plugged in for years) is a nightmare.
    Sometimes I just want to look at pretty pictures,... Thats when I go to the Turners Forum

  14. #14
    Its all dependent on the type of work you're doing and what you're expectations are for the lumber. Personally, I could never imagine a ww'ing shop without either machine.

    For me, surfaced kiln dried lumber has several definite negatives. This may be simply related to what's on hand on the supplier, but more than once a nice straight board has moved or twisted unexpectedly while sitting in stickers in my shop. I suspect this is due to some case hardening/lack of destressing. In my work, I want some room left for final surfacing and sanding. Unless you have a perfectly flat, uncupped board there is no room for jointing. Therefore, you have to pick through to pile and one of my suppliers has stopped letting customers to this they have to take what is picked.

    Yes it does take a lot of the work out of it if all you're building is cabinets, but if you're building furniture, IMO air dried rough lumber is the best.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Oct 2018
    Location
    New Boston, Michigan
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    When I was doing commission work I bought hardwood from an Amish sawmill and had them bring it over to an Amish Millwork company. They flattened, planned, joined 1 edge and sanded to 120. And they were cheap. But the sawmill burned down. Now I do my own milling. I think many mills do not flatten but run both sides through a planner.

    I rely on my 8 inch joiner and 15" planner with a Wixey readout and enjoy milling my own stuff.
    Ask a woodworker to "make your bed" and he/she makes a bed.

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