Step 5: Jointing and planing

If you are using pre-milled lumber (aka S4S) then this step should not be necessary, skip ahead. But if you are using rough lumber, then jointing and planing is necessary to clean the edges and make sure the edges of the boards are squared.

The end result this step can vary widely based on the quality of the wood used. My boards were fairly straight and flat from the lumberyard, so I did not have to remove a lot of wood to square the edges, but the faces were quite rough with some small cracks.

To joint the boards

  1. Check the condition of the wood - place it on a clean, flat surface and see if the faces are cupped or twisted. Choose the flattest side and place it face-down on the jointer, with the grain facing forward toward the cutter.
  2. Feed the board through the jointer, taking thin cuts (less than 1/16"). Keep your hands away from the blades at all times - using grip pads like those pictured not only keeps you safe, it ensures even, consistent pressure throughout the cut.
  3. Repeat as necessary until the board is flat and smooth. Only one face needs to be jointed, the other face will be cleaned with the planer.
  4. Check the edges of the wood, see if the board is bowed right or left. Again, choose the flattest edge and place it down on the planer bed.
  5. Feed the board edge through the jointer, making the same thin cuts. Repeat until one face is straight and smooth. The opposite edge should be cleaned up on the table saw - unless both edges are already perfectly parallel, jointing both edges will only compound existing imperfections.

To square the edges

  1. Check if the edges of the board are parallel, using a combination square. My maple was nearly perfect, while my cherry and oak were both tapered.
  2. Place the jointed edge of the board against the table saw fence, with the narrowest end facing toward the blade. Fit the narrow end of the board between the blade and fence, then lock the fence in place
  3. Push the board through the table saw, shaving off the unjointed edge of the board. You should now have a square board.

Plane to thickness

  1. Check the un-jointed face of the board. If it is cupped or bowed, you will need to take multiple, shallow passes through the planer. Measure the thickness of the board and set the planer depth of cut to the same thickness, or just below it. Set the depth for shallow passes (1/16" or less) to ensure a clean cut.
  2. Place the jointed face down against the planer bed, with the grain facing forward towards the cutter.
  3. Feed the board into the planer.  Let the power-rollers pull the board through the cut - don't get your fingers anywhere near the entrance of the planer.
  4. Use the same depth setting to plane all boards that will be used at the same time, to ensure consistency
  5. Repeat until you reach the desired thickness (the top "thickness setting in CB Designer) or until both faces of the boards are flat and square, and all boards of of equal thickness.
If you had to cut / shave off a significant amount of wood, take a minute now to check your measurements and make sure you have enough wood to make your design - change the dimensions in CB Designer if necessary.