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  • The importance of stock preparation

    I recently watched an episode of the Woodsmith Shop where they were showing how to make stub tenon doors. Not having the high dollar router bit set that it takes to run rails, stiles, and raised panels I was interested in using this method to build doors for the built-in/entertainment center I'm doing for the living room. So far, so good.
    As I was cutting the grooves for the 1/4" plywood panels I noticed that from one stile to the next the groove width was different. It would either be too tight for the panel or way too loose. Every now and then the groove would actually be the right size. I was about to pull my hair out trying to figure out the cause. Was the saw (3660) setting changing from one board to the next? I found that unlikely. But still, no matter how careful I was, I was unable to make several grooves in a row that were right.
    It finally dawned on me that the thing that was changing wasn't the saw but rather the thickness of the wood. I had bought several pre-milled boards at the local Home Depot and they varied ever so slightly from one to the next. This stub tenon procedure showed just how critical even a small variation can be. The killer is that I bought a Dewalt planer a few weeks ago when they were on sale and never gave a thought to running all og the "pre-milled" boards through it. I believe that would have solved the problem.

    Questions are: Am I right? Have any of you ever been fooled by something similar?

  • #2
    Re: The importance of stock preparation

    Absolutely!

    I've been making a bunch of shelving for the library and my wife's cookbook room. Boards from Home Depot vary all over the place. Thickness varies a much a 3/32" and width on their 10-inch width boards goes from 9-1/8 to 9-5/16's. I purchased a dozen boards from my neighborhood lumber dealer and all thier 10-inch width stock measured 9-1/2".

    Makes for a big difference and I've learned to get all my materials at once, measure and then cut to final width as needed. I've also learned to buy oversize stock and the cut to the exact width that I want, because you simply can't trust that lumber (and certainly NOT from Home Depot) will hold to any kind of standard.

    CWS

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    • #3
      Re: The importance of stock preparation

      Your not alone. The stock at the big box stores are close by not exact. I recently did a project where I had to make different doors for an entertainment center and didn't have the time to mill my own stock so I went to the box store and couldn't find a straight board in the place. I then went to a local lumber yard and bought their milled boards and found them to be right on, and like CWSmith, I bought the lumber slightly oversized and cut to width.

      chalk it up to lessons learned.

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      • #4
        Re: The importance of stock preparation

        It seems that there are a lot of lessons to be learned. I guess that's what keeps it interesting.

        I had the same problem with not being able to find enough flat stock to make 8 doors. It took two trips on consecutive days to pull that off. And then I messed around and made the stiles too narrow for the cup hinges I had already purchased. I didn't think about the stiles needing to be wider than the usual 1 1/2" that I normally use. It was my first time using the European style hinges and I didn't give enough thought to all of the ramifications. But, like you said, lesson learned.

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        • #5
          Re: The importance of stock preparation

          It's incredible how just a small variation in the stock will throw off a whole project. I've finally learned that consistent, straight cuts are critical. I measure to the 32nd of an inch and sometimes to the 64th. For width and thickness, I want them to be THE SAME and mill the first one to within 1/64" of final dimension, then I use that board and mill every subsequent board to the exact same dimensions as that first one. For a woodworking project, 1/32" is fine and sometimes you need up to 1/8" of wiggle room in panels. But, to get joints to fit together properly, consistency is critical. The dimensions of the mating pieces must be the same to get the joints to fit together.
          I put it all back together better than before. There\'s lots of leftover parts.

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          • #6
            Re: The importance of stock preparation

            Sandy,

            A lot of what you said relates to I think one of the most important lessons of woodworking. As Norm put it in his book as roughly "Measure twice and cut once, but don't measure at all if you can avoid it." A lot of the time it doesn't matter what the measurement is, it just matters that they are the same.

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            • #7
              Re: The importance of stock preparation

              Originally posted by cpw View Post
              it just matters that they are the same.
              Usually in my case, that means I screwed up both boards.

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