Milling lumber

by Fred
(Maryland)



Q:

When cutting up a log for possible future sales, what are the ideal lengths and widths to mill them. I will be working mostly with white oak, black walnut, and some cherry.

A:

As usual my asnwer starts with the unsatisfying: "it depends." Do you know who your customers are going to be?

If you are thinking of selling to hobbyists and occasional woodworkers then you can consider surfacing the wood on 4 sides (see milling lumber) and cutting it to standard widths (remember the difference between actual and nominal widths. See lumber dimensions for a refresher on widths. If you are going this route I'd recommend cutting the boards to length in 2 foot increments.

This approach allows you to charge the most for the boards, but, of course it's more work.

On the other hand if you are going for larger shops you can assume that the customers will have their own planer and jointer, so you can leave the boards rough and random.

Personally, I prefer to buy rough lumber so I can make sure it's all the same size when I use it. However, it's also convenient to have it surfaced on 3 sides with random widths and lengths.

This is the approach I would probably take. Plane it to thickness, and joint one edge, that way even if your customer doesn't have a jointer s/he will still be able to rip the board. You won't have the work (and waste) of cutting to specific widths and lengths.

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One last link you may find helpful: buying lumber

Best of luck to you.

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