Saturday, December 02, 2023

13 July 2014 - Flat, Straight & Square

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  •  Use the jointer to flatten one surface.
  •  Also at the jointer square one edge to the face you just flattened.
  •  Surface the second face with the planner.
  •  Rip the remaining edge parallel to the first on the table saw.
  • Crosscut the ends of the board square on the table saw.

The topic of this blog will take you through all five steps. To make the milling process as easy as possible, it's best to first select the best boards from the lumber yard. Avoid badly warped stock—it just means more material must be removed from the board to get it flat, straight, and square. Also buy the boards thicker, wider and longer than the final dimensions of the project. Then when it is milled there will still be enough material for the right-sized board.

Start by cutting each board to a manageable length and width within the scope of the project. Cut the board about an inch longer than its final length. If you have a bandsaw rip the boards to their approximate final width. It's safer than a table saw for working with warped boards. Allow about a ¼ to ½ inch of extra stock, but remember the maximum width is limited by the size of the jointer. If the project calls for a wider board then joint two or more boards after they've been milled.

Step 1: Flatten one face of each board. Use a jointer for this task with very light cuts, make several passes if required—no more than 1/32 inch. A heavy cut may result in tear out or splintering. Place the board on the infeed table with one edge against the fence. Using a push block in each hand, feed the board into the knives. Once the knives start cutting, use the push block in your forward hand to apply downward pressure to the lead end of the board, pressing it against the outfeed table while pushing it forward. Once about 12 inches of the board is on the outfeed table, the push-block in the back hand joins the one in front at the outfeed table. With both hands in line on the board, and positioned toward the front of the outfeed table (but not over the knives), push the board forward. At this point, all the downward and forward pressure from the push block is over the outfeed table. To keep the board moving, pick up the lead hand and place it behind the other one and keep repeating the process until the board has cleared the knives. Be careful as the board exits the infeed table because, for a second the guard does not cover the spinning blades. Keep making passes until the entire surface is planed flat. 

Helpful Hint: To minimize tear out or splintering take a reading of the grain direction by looking at the edge of the board. If it tends to run more in one direction than another feed it into the planer with the grain direction in mind. Place a bowed, cupped or crooked board surface facedown. The board rests steady on two points. The flattened area gets wider with each pass over the cutter head until the entire surface is flat. Cover the board with chalk marks to help identify when the board is flat—when the chalk marks are gone the board is flat.

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