What thicknesses does hardwood come in?

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Old 11-12-03, 05:01 PM
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What thicknesses does hardwood come in?

I was looking over some plans and often the stock thickness is specified as 7/8" or 1 1/4" etc. I don't think hardwood is readily available is these thicknesses, correct?

Where I get my hardwood, they seem to provide it in 1" increments - 1", 2" etc (actual measurement). Is this typical?

I was hoping to avoid buying a power planer but I suppose you can't get very far without one.
 
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Old 11-12-03, 07:02 PM
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Roughsawn wood comes in many thicknesses. Commonly, 5/4" is seen. This is the rough thickness of the wood before drying and planing. This wood is generally finished to 3/4" but can work for 7/8" depending upon planing. Other thicknesses are 8/4 and 12/4.

Unless you are going to buy your wood already jointed and planed, you will need to acquire the tools necessary to work the wood into a workable state before you can start. Many agree that a tablesaw and a planer are indispensible for furniture making or otherwise dealing with rough sawn wood.

Be knowledgeable and safe.

Hope this helps.
 
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Old 11-13-03, 09:17 AM
brickeyee
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4/4, 5/4, 6/4, 8/4, 12/4, 16/4.
The grade is based on a concept called 'clear face cuttings'. A set of rules determines how many cuts can be made in a board to remove the defects (there are some variations with species). There is a minimum width and length for each piece that remains. Wood is normally graded on the worst face, except that 'selects' are graded on the best. 'Firsts' is the highest grade, and 'Firsts and Seconds' (FAS) is the best grade usally found. FAS1 (Firsts and Seconds 1-face)are graded on the best face instead of the worst face. Hardwood s usually sold random widths and lengths and not planed. The quarter dimensions are pretty close to net in the rough state.
 

Last edited by brickeyee; 11-17-03 at 03:39 AM.
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Old 11-13-03, 10:56 AM
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Thanks brickeyee,

So does this mean that for minimum waste, most finished pieces (final part dimensions for high quality furniture etc) would end up with thicknesses like 7/8, 1 3/8 etc. after planing?

Also I looked around on the web and saw that the hardwood suppliers normally sell random width like you said. Seems like in reality you would have to specify at least a minimum width or take your chances if you are buying sight unseen.

Also, typically the hardwood is surfaced. If you specify rough sawn, you only save $0.25 per bf which is probably only worthwhile if you buy a lot of hardwood.



Thanks
 
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Old 11-13-03, 08:28 PM
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Usually, you decide how thick to plane the wood based upon your application. If you are going to use 3/4 you plane 3/4.

I cannot recall, but there are minimum widths to meet the standards for wood. You aren't going to get anything 1 inch wide. You buy the wood by the board foot, based upon its rough dimensions. A board foot is a board 12 inches long by 12 inches wide by 1 inch thick. Most of what I have bought over the years is 4 to 12 inches wide. You can order short lengths, but pay more per bf.

$.25 per board foot for planing and jointing adds up in a hurry. It is not unusual for a piece to take 60 bf. That would be $12.00. Moreover, when planing it yourself, you can be sure the pieces are all the same thickness. You can glue up pieces and plane them together to make the proper thickness of the newly joined wood.

A bookcase would be about 35 board feet finished, exclusive of the back. So figure 10% or more for waste, and you are at 40 board feet. $.25 per bf would be $10.00.

There are lots of things to consider when working with wood. Money and time and blades are just a few.

Hope this helps.
 
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Old 11-13-03, 08:36 PM
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Chfite,

One last question - lets say a plan called for a 1 1/4" thick finished piece and a 7/8" thick finished piece. Both pieces would be visible on one side of the finished furniture. I assume in this case you would buy 1 1/2" thick stock and 1" thick stock to allow for planing?

Thanks for your patience, I have a lot of books on woodworking but not much actual experience (working on the latter).
 
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Old 11-14-03, 07:55 AM
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If I were to buy only the two pieces you mention, I would buy 6/4 or 8/4 for the 7/8 piece and 8/4 for the 1-1/4 piece. You cannot be sure that the 5/4 piece will plane satisfactorily to 7/8 everytime. You might be able to pick through a stack and find on that would work. I would hate to plane a 5/4 piece to 7/8 and find some skips still there that would not be there at 3/4.

If there is a lot of wood to plane, spending time fussing with an individual piece makes too much work out of what is supposed to be making a piece of furniture.

Unlike the old craftsmen, we build things with the unshown surfaces planed nowadays. Look under 100 year old pieces and you will commonly find rough places. They did not waste time hand planing that which would not be seen.

I usually buy my wood straight line ripped, surfaced two sides to 13/16 for projects calling for 3/4 wood. If I need an odd thicker piece, i glue it up. By getting the wood surfaced on two sides, I don't spend my blades cutting off the bulk of the waste. The straight line rip gives me wood with one straight edge, instead of having to cut on straight edge myself. Once again, the value of the time involved in doing this comes into play. Big suppliers will provide sufaced wood that has been straightened in the process as opposed to just having been planed.

I got caught short once and had to straight line rip and rough surface 3000 bf for a project..

There are many things to working with wood. Feel free to come back and we can go over them. Many folks have different ways of doing things and have some valuable experiences to share.
 
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Old 11-14-03, 02:52 PM
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Go here for the grading rules:

http://www.ahec.org/hardwoods/grading.html

I often buy larger amounts sight unseen by grade. The grade will determine how much usable wood and what sizes the clear pieces wil be. If you buy unplaned you can rough cut to size and then plane to final dimension. This allows boards with cup to be used and reduces waste. If you want to save some money you can even buy some #1 or #2 common for narrow and short parts of a piece. Many commmercial fatories use lower grade wood and glue up larger panels. Even the table top in a high end piece is typically made from boards no wider than about 4 inches. Tis also helps control warping by avoiding having a wide board that cups badly.
 
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Old 11-24-03, 10:13 PM
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In the industry a true piece of 4/4 is 13/16" not 3/4" Places like Home Depot make it 3/4 because it's easier for a customer to deal and work with.
 
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Old 11-25-03, 10:24 AM
brickeyee
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The home depot S4S hardwood is outrageously expensive. Look under ‘hardwood’ in the yellow pages. Even with the waste from buying random widths and lengths it should be cheaper to buy from a hardwood dealer.
 
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Old 11-25-03, 11:51 AM
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I agree brick, but most of the people who are DIY won't have the accessability to purchase wood from other places than Home Depot, etc.
 
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Old 11-25-03, 12:26 PM
brickeyee
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Even mail order with shipping will cme out less the Evil Orange. Try:
http://www.walllumber.com/default.asp
and
http://www.walllumber.com/lum.asp
Almost every city i have lived in has at least one entry under 'hardwood' in the yellow pages.
 
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