How to Choose Wood and Materials for DIY Projects
Choosing wood and materials
Wood is a perfect building material. It’s strong but can still be worked with reliefs and pleasant shapes. It can be finished to show off its grain, or covered to hide its imperfections. And it’s all around us in a variety of colors and species.
But wood can have its secrets to those who don’t speak the language of the lumberyard. And the different wood species can be difficult to evaluate and identify without some guidance.
Certain kinds of wood are more suitable than others for certain tasks. The points covered in the post: Types of Wood for Carpentry will help you to make an informed decision, whether you’re purchasing lumber from a retail yard, a home improvement center, or a mill supplier.
Preparing your stock accurately can mean the difference between a casual hobby project and a really useful and attractive one. Wood that doesn’t have square edges and straight parallel surfaces to Start with will display the same characteristics in the finished project
Wood that’s dressed carelessly produces ill•fitting joints and mismatches progressively down each Step of assembly. But the machining of stock involves more than just running wood through some equipment. The normal routine is to first cut the boards to length, leaving a few inches extra for trimming. Then the stock should be jointed and planed, ripped to width, and finally cut to finished length.
Sometimes, the order of things is changed if there’s a long piece of stock with an imperfection such as a cup or bow. In that case, it may need to be crosscut into shorter pieces — or ripped into individual strips — before it can be planed safely.
Once stock has been cut to rough length, it can be surfaced in the direction of the grain. Wood cut against the grain causes ‘tearout’ and a produces a rough surface even after sanding.
The best way to determine grain direction is to first look at the curvature of the growth rings at the end of the board to establish which was the inside face, then — with that face up — the V-pattern that’s visible points in the correct direction. On the opposite, or outside, face of the board, the correct direction lion is just the reverse.
Four feet, more or less, is the ideal length for jointing and planing, but exceptions must be made for components that are longer than that. Avoid machining short pieces less than 16″.
Face-jointing is using the jointer to remove high spots on the face of a board. When surfacing cupped or bowed stock, the concave side should rest on the table so the edges or ends touch first. These will be the first to be removed, until the board is uniformly flat.
The thickness planer “reads” the board’s one flat side and makes the opposite side parallel and uniform. Once the first side is planed, the board Should be turned over and planed again, since the planer makes a smoother cut than a jointer. To maintain consistency, you should plane all your stock of the same thickness at one time before changing the machine’s setting to make the next series of cuts.
Edge-squaring is done on the jointer. If the board is crooked, the bad edge must be removed first. A hand plane can take off the high ends, but in severe cases the edge of the board must be cut. Snap a chalk line between the ends as a guide, then use a jigsaw to cut along the tine. Square the jointer by checking its fence against the cutter head with a reliable square, then pass the stock through the machine with its edge hard against the table and its face hard against the fence.
Ripping, or cutting to width, is done on the table saw. Always put the board’s jointed edge against the fence to give the most accurate cut. On pieces that require accurate surfacing on all four sides, add 1/16″ or so to the final edge to allow for jointing later.
Final cutting for length is done on the table saw, or with a radial-arm saw. The initial cut squares one end, and the second cut establishes the finished length. On longer components, it may be impractical to rely on the short miter gauge to make an accurate final cut.