Coyote Jim

Milling Lumber by Hand

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Hi Everyone.

Long story short, I have a 10" wide board of rough cut red oak. It is 4/4(ish). I need to mill this board down using hand planes. I need it to be about 70" long.

I have a Scrub Plane (No.5 with an 8" camber). I have a No.7 (she needs a little bit of work but should be good to go without too much fuss). And of course a No.5 and a N0.4. My sharpening skills are about a 6.5 (maybe a 7?) out of 10.

This is by far the biggest piece of wood I have ever tried to mill by hand. I have watched a video or two on how to do this. BUT I was wondering if any of you had any links to any instructions or anything that helped you learn? Was there any advise or wisdom that was given to you that gave you a bit of an "aha!" moment? Does anyone in their right mind even mill large pieces like this by hand any more?

 

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My biggest 'AHA!' was realizing I could scrub the crap out of it at almost 90* to the grain. Hold the plane at a skewed angle, push across, and let the shavings fly.

Do you have a reference surface to lay the 70" length on to check flatness? If not, frequent checks with a straightedge, or even sighting along the board, are highly recommended.

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Define "mill".

What are your tolerances for flatness, squareness, and smoothness? Is this a show piece? Does this need to be jointed and glued up in a panel? Do both faces have to be equally pretty? Do all six sides need to be equally precise?

Part of the beauty of using hand planes, according to the Schwarz, is that you shouldn't be taking every single part of a project all the way to the nth degree. So, tell us more about where this board is going and that'll determine your milling schedule.

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Have you checked out Paul Sellers?   He does mostly hand work and might be of some help.

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7 minutes ago, wtnhighlander said:

Do you have a reference surface to lay the 70" length on to check flatness?

In fact I do. At work we use a lot of extruded aluminum. Square tubing and angle. So it's no problem for me to snag a large off-cut of one of these for a weekend.

4 minutes ago, Bombarde16 said:

Define "mill".

What are your tolerances for flatness, squareness, and smoothness? Is this a show piece? Does this need to be jointed and glued up in a panel? Do both faces have to be equally pretty? Do all six sides need to be equally precise?

Part of the beauty of using hand planes, according to the Schwarz, is that you shouldn't be taking every single part of a project all the way to the nth degree. So, tell us more about where this board is going and that'll determine your milling schedule.

Wow, lot's of experience and wisdom in this question Bombarde. The only reason I am milling this board by hand is because I do not have access to an electric jointer that can handle it. So all I need to do is get this thing "flat enough" to run through the planer. I "COULD" make a large sled for the planer to true it up, but I have a deep love of hand tools and I want the challenge.

So I guess my milling schedule is only to get one face true.

8 minutes ago, RichardA said:

Have you checked out Paul Sellers?   He does mostly hand work and might be of some help.

Yes of course I have. But usually Paul just pisses me off. He makes it all look so damn easy that I think to myself "Well that does not look hard, I could do that." Turns out, I can't do that.

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Here is a video I made a few years back.  It was my first video, and I stupidly forgot to turn the sound on.  I was talking the whole time, but forget what I said.  Panel is about 16"x 4'. It didn't have to be perfect, as it was for exterior shutter panels, and not a piece of fine furniture.

 

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1 hour ago, Coyote Jim said:

… usually Paul just pisses me off. He makes it all look so damn easy that I think to myself "Well that does not look hard, I could do that." Turns out, I can't do that.

You do realize that Paul has been doing this stuff for 50 yrs, right?  Of course it looks easy when he does it! :)

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4 minutes ago, PPBart said:

You do realize that Paul has been doing this stuff for 50 yrs, right?  Of course it looks easy when he does it! :)

I have about 48 years more experience I need to acquire in order to catch him.

 

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30 minutes ago, Coyote Jim said:

I have about 48 years more experience I need to acquire in order to catch him.

 

At the least, you'll pick up clues as to how things work.  Hell, yes it's easy for him, he's been doing it longer than you've been alive..........I think.

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4 minutes ago, K Cooper said:

This is my best offer.

Wow Coop thanks! Just have them deliver it to my door. I'll take it from there.

 

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Go to YT and search for Rob Cosman. He has just released 3 videos on doing a candle box entirely by hand.

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The process I use is to lay the piece down on the bench shim it any where it’s not touching. Then place winding sticks across it in a couple different locations or if have a eye for it just sight down it. Take down high spots  then lay straight edge down it to see if you have caused a hump or concave surface. Now if the twist is taken out an is fairly straight (no hump concave is ok) break out the jointer going with the grain I usually take the first few passes shewed a bit say 15* . Then once you start getting some Continuous shaving not whole pass straighten the passes up. Remember to keep checking your progress as you go with winding stick and straight edge. But normally it doesn’t take long an your be good to run it thru the planer face down as your reference side and be good to go. 

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If you're running it thru a planer anyway, all you really need id to 'scrub' it to the point that it doesn't rock on your reference surface. Then put that side against the planer bed.

If you are patient, 'skip planing' can get a board flat, unless it has a twist. I've seriously considered just making a long, flat bed thru my planer, and forgetting about a jointer, altogether. 

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Work smart ..

Don't rush at the board with a scrub or jack plane. Determine where the high spots are, mark them, and plane those down first.

Keep removing high spots only.

Once flat/coplanar, you can use a jointer with the grain.

Flip the board and mark for thickness. Now remove the waste - if you must ... for some jobs this is unnecessary.

Regards from Perth

Derek

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1 hour ago, derekcohen said:

Work smart ..

Don't rush at the board with a scrub or jack plane. Determine where the high spots are, mark them, and plane those down first.

Keep removing high spots only.

Once flat/coplanar, you can use a jointer with the grain.

Flip the board and mark for thickness. Now remove the waste - if you must ... for some jobs this is unnecessary.

Regards from Perth

Derek

So in essesnce, do as little as possible. That is usually my go to method for....well.... just about everything.

Thanks Derek, I was hoping you would chime in.

P.S., do you need an apprentice? I always wanted to go Australia.

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I don't have a jointer, so this is my process for everything. I just get it to the point where there's no rock or wobble on the work bench. I usually use my #6 for most of it, although if it's really bad I'll start with a #5 with camber on it. Remember this isn't finish planing it, if you're going through a thickness planer after. It's much faster going across the grain and at an angle than with it. Mill marks are fine, as long as the board has decent contact with the bench.

The Renaissance woodworker has a good video on this somewhere on his site. I found it very helpful the first couple times I tried it.

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