Popular Woodworking 2009-10 № 178, страница 6

Popular Woodworking 2009-10 № 178, страница 6

Out on a Limb



Learn How. Discover Why. Build Better.

Don't Do the Math

early every woodworking book tells you the wrong way to purchase wood.

There's a formula where you multiply the width, length and thickness ofeach part in your proj ect and divide the result by 144. Then add 15 to 20 percent for waste, order the surfaced wood and start cutting.

I can't think of a more stressful way to buy wood for a home woodworking project. And not because I dislike math. I like math OK. But math here is not your friend.

The few times I've ordered wood this way, the results were frustrating. Even if I got a load of quality stock, I never got the widths I needed. I never got the grain patterns that were suitable. And the defects were always in the wrong place.

So I'd order more wood to fill in the holes in my cutting list. It was an expensive and slow way to work.

At the other end of the perspective is James Krenov. In his books, Krenov details how he maintains a stash of planks that he sorts through when preparing for a project. He waits for the right board to call out to him and declare how it should be used in a finished piece of furniture.

I fall somewhere in between. I don't hear voices, and I don't run the numbers.

When building one project, I go to the lumberyard and pick through the stock myself. I take my cutting list and a tape measure and pick through every pile.

I've learned to read boards while they are in their rough state. Not only are boards in the rough less expensive, but they're less likely to be warped than surfaced stock.

That's because no matter how nice the lumberyard's planing equipment is, stock that has been surfaced is almost certainly cupped and perhaps twisted. This warping can happen because the machines were used improperly, the wood wasn't completely dry - or both. I f you buy it surfaced, you're going to have to flatten it again.

And all this above is why I can be a difficult person when a reader calls to ask: How many board feet should I order for that chest in your magazine? The answer is: I have no idea. You might need 50 board feet. You might need 100.

This is also why I resist offering optimization charts that show all the cuts necessary for the parts on dimensional stock. How often have you seen a piece of perfectly clear dimensional stock? For me it was the last time I saw the tooth fairy playing Scrabble with the Easter bunny.

You need to get closer to your raw material. You need to be fussy at the outset of the construction process. When you do this, two magical things will happen: Your wood will behave predictably because you could pick all quartersawn stock for the rails and stiles. And your projects will look more harmonious because all the parts will relate to one another.

All because you decided not to do the math. PW

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Safety Note

Safety is your responsibility. Manufacturers place safety devices on their equipment for a reason. In many photos you see in Popular Woodworking, these have been removed to provide clarity. In some cases we'll use an awkward body position so you can better see what's being demonstrated. Don't copy us. Think about each procedure you're going to perform beforehand.

10 ■ Popular Woodworking October 2009


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