For some unknown reason, my favorite part of a furniture project is the milling. For those of you not in “the know,” milling is the process of cutting down your rough stock lumber into the approximate sized pieces for your project.
For most of my furniture projects, I use rough cut lumber for a number of reasons. It’s usually a lot cheaper per board foot compared to the finished lumber at the big box store, and it is available in much thicker sizes than finished stock.
As the name implies rough cut lumber does not look as good as finished lumber because it is really “rough.” It will have saw mill marks along with ink marks, and it might not be perfectly straight, or it might have slight cupping. The key is to see the potential within the board. Michael Angelo said the statue was in the rock all along, and he just brought it out. So I look for what might be within the board. Another advantage of rough cut lumber is that it gives you more of a margin for error while saving money at the same time.
I do part of the roughing work by hand. I will hand plane one side of the board flat and straight, then true up the thin side so I have two square sides before I start with using machinery. I could use my jointer, but if you have any twist or bow, I can flatten it out faster by hand without snipe or tear out and save electricity. And sometimes this can be a good workout too, so burning the extra calories is a plus.
I don’t really know why I like the milling part best, but I just do. I wonder if a tailor gets excited when they look at a bolt of fabric the way I get excited looking at my boards.
So a new commission has begun. I am working on a custom sized pool que holder. I hope you will enjoy reading about this project as it progresses along.