Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 20

Thread: Milling Lumber For workbench top

  1. #1

    Milling Lumber For workbench top

    Hello all, I have a question about the difficulty of milling lumber. I would consider myself a beginner and I have worked with rough lumber. I have a chance to get some rough kiln dried beech slabs 2-3” thick. I believe he will rip the slabs down to roughly 3 inches wide for me. I was thinking of building this benchfeatured in Fine Woodworking/Taunton. Most of the components are roughly 2”x3“ and 84” long (top). My question is, how much skill and work is it to mill the lumber myself. It scared me because in one of the videos the woodworker says it is just a challenge to mill the lumber and he’s a pro. I own an old 37–220 Delta jointer 6 inch and a new Dewalt 13 1/2 inch planer as well as a good table saw. I have the option of having the mill work done for $150. I want to take on the challenge but don’t want to bite off more than I can chew and be so frustrated that I will not enjoy it at all. I think the bench build itself will be challenging so I am wondering if I should leave the milling to a shop I would Appreciate any feedback you pros could provide.I believe he will rip them down to roughly 3 inches wide for me

  2. #2
    Rick you have the equipment time to dive in. I see your challenge being your jointer bed is a little short for 84" lumber, but set up infeed and outfeed support and maybe a helper and you will be fine. A helper on the planer wouldn't hurt either. I would do the first glue ups as sub assemblies a little narrower then your planer. Then plane all the sub assemblies to the same thickness before gluing the whole thing together. That will eliminate a lot of sanding or hand planing. Good luck and post back your finished project.

  3. #3
    Jointing an 84" long board on a jointer is not an easy task. As mentioned infeed and outfeed rollers and start with the straightest side down.

    That said, a laminated top jointed faces are not critical, as long as the two glue faces are surfaced parallel minor gaps or bows can be clamped out.

    More critical is the edge side facing up as flat as possible to ease the process.

    NOTE: when you glue up, be sure all the grain is oriented the same direction - I can't emphasize this enough, especially if you plan to hand plane the top.

    I'd spare the planer motor and knives all that work and fork over the $150. Beech is pretty hard wood.

    A router sled is a good way to flatten the top, again, spares the planer a pretty strenuous task.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    WNY
    Posts
    7,375
    Building your own bench is a sort of right of passage for beginning woodworkers. You'll build a lot of skills that will serve you well with future projects. Have at it.

    John

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Silicon Valley, CA
    Posts
    889
    Good advice above.

    When jointing the long boards, I'd expect the process probably won't be as automatic as with a piece well within your jointer's capacity. I'd recommend testing the fit between adjacent pieces as you go -- this will help you identify where the residual high points are.

    Matt

  6. #6
    I recently had to accurately joint 84" boards for a dining room table. It was much more difficult than I would have ever anticipated, and I have doing woodworking for something like 40 years. Normally I don't edge glue boards longer than 48-60" long, and the additional two feet really threw me off. Using a straight edge (a 1"x3"x 1/8" aluminum box beam) and router didn't work, because the straight edge flexed just enough in the middle of the board to make a gap in the glue joint I couldn't clamp out. The track saw and guide left too rough of an edge. The tables on the 8" jointer weren't long enough to take out the gentle curves over the length of the board.

    I ultimately ended up putting four foot extensions on the infeed and outfeed of my jointer that could be easily leveled. That actually worked much better than I would have ever imagined.

    While figuring out how to do this yourself would be educational and character building, risking messing up that much expensive lumber would make me consider forking over the $150. Before I figured out the jointer extension thing, I might have done that with my table top if we had not been in lockdown at the time.

    On a side note, beech can sometimes be a pretty unstable wood, despite being a popular choice for bench tops in Europe. The more even climate there helps with stability. Cutting the boards and laminating them so that the grain ends up vertical (essentially quarter sawn) may help. Also, if you get the boards milled up but not glued, you will want to quickly glue them together, as they will likely warp annoyingly rapidly, especially if they are beech, and if the humidity is changing a lot, like if it was springtime
    Last edited by Andrew Seemann; 04-21-2021 at 6:03 PM.

  7. #7
    A question about the beech - is it American or European beech? I’ll take a wild guess at American? I ask because I’m also building a bench and looking for material for the top. While beech has been traditionally used for bench tops and tools, I read somewhere that American beech is not recommended due to poor stability and seasonal movement. European beech is the type of beech to use. Is this a known thing or just one persons opinion?

  8. #8
    When I made my ‘mercan beech top I was determined to find and use beech because it was the “traditional material “. Took me a long
    time to find out that it got that prize position ....because it was not as stable as many other woods ,so often used on utilitarian stuff.
    I used it and the bench is good.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Punta Gorda, FL
    Posts
    2,966
    I'm with JT on this. There are so many valuable things to learn that you will take with you throughout your woodworking years.

    Start small and work your way up. With your Dewalt planer, you can glue up sections just shy of your planer width and run them through. Then you have 2-3 larger sections for the final glue up. And if the finished top isn't to your liking, the opportunity to get to know hand tools presents itself. A decent jointer, jack plane and smoothing plane will provide you with possibly one of the most enjoyable woodworking experiences thus far. And then you'll be hooked.
    “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness..." - Mark Twain

    Diapers and Politicians need to be changed often... Usually for the same reason.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Punta Gorda, FL
    Posts
    2,966
    “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness..." - Mark Twain

    Diapers and Politicians need to be changed often... Usually for the same reason.

  11. #11
    Milling lumber is simple. The physicality of it is the big challenge. This is especially true with daintier equipment. Also, laminating bigger tops will test your clamp collection, it takes a lot more force to close several glue lines than one would think.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    SW Michigan
    Posts
    616
    Not to rock the boat but I would pay the $150 to have it jointed and planed for me. There is some, but not a lot of skill required in running boards over a jointer or feeding them into a planer. With your 6" short bed jointer, I would say frustration with the results may happen. I suggest focusing your time developing joinery skills the bench project requires. You can always learn jointing and planing on smaller projects more suitable to your equipment. But that's just me.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Dan McGonigle View Post
    A question about the beech - is it American or European beech? I’ll take a wild guess at American? I ask because I’m also building a bench and looking for material for the top. While beech has been traditionally used for bench tops and tools, I read somewhere that American beech is not recommended due to poor stability and seasonal movement. European beech is the type of beech to use. Is this a known thing or just one persons opinion?
    European beech is often steamed. I'm not sure if that is to release tension, or if it is a color thing like walnut. Maybe that has something to do with it?

    I've used beech (not sure when it was North American or European) for small items and it has worked well, but the pieces they came out of looked like airplane propellers and hockey sticks. Still, it works well in small scale, things like harpsichord jacks get made out of beech, and they require both precision and stability. It cuts and machines very cleanly, which is probably why it got used for wooden planes. In Europe, it seems like a utility wood, kind of like pine or red oak here, where it gets used when "wood" is required and it doesn't matter what kind.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Woodstock, VA
    Posts
    899
    Regardless of who mills to dimension I would verify the moisture content. I don’t have much experience with Beech but I’ve heard it can be difficult to dry.

  15. #15
    This is all great information. I will research whether it is American or European beach. My feeling is that it probably is American. I am leaning towards having the boards milled since this is really my first time doing any milling. I think it’s a little more than I can bite off and I will try it on some smaller projects. I am a little concerned about the comment from Andrew that I should glue it up immediately after milling. I was planning on getting it mailed and then just letting it air dry for a while in my shop and then build the bench when I had time. Is this a bad plan?

Tags for this Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •