Picture of Rough wood: Milling it square & fixing defects - made at Techshop
I start most of my woodwork using rough cut and reclaimed wood. In addition to being cheaper and having more variety, I love rough wood because it's fun transforming messy, plain looking boards into beautiful objects. But before any of that can happen, I have to get the boards flat, straight and square. This instructable is a reference for how I do that, along with tips on how to fix specific defects in wood and how to store the lumber after it's milled.

There are many ways to get wood flat, straight and square - but for this instructable I'm going to stick to using the power jointer, power planer and table saw. I'm fortunate to have access to all these tools at Techshop, San Francisco, so I take full advantage of them. I'll start with an overview of the general process of jointing and planing, then I'll show how to use the jointer and planer to fix specific defects that commonly occur in rough cut wood.

For those without the money to buy all these tools, or the shop space to house them, there are other ways. My favorite woodworking podcaster, The Wood Whisperer, has a great episode about this topic - Episode #6 - The Jointer's Jumpin. He not only talks about the method I will show here, but also demonstrates how to use some other power-tools, including handheld routers, router tables, and the table saws by themselves. You can also use hand planes to clean up wood very effectively, but I'm not yet familiar enough with that technique to write about it.

As always, I'm still a relative newcomer to woodworking - if anyone has any corrections or additional information, please share it in the comments. Just keep the criticism constructive.
gypsyrain211 month ago

PT 2 x 10 deck steps have cupped :( can't I just wet them down and flip them over?

gypsyrain211 month ago
rimar20002 years ago
Excellent info, thanks for sharing.

Some years ago I read in a woodturning site that before put in the lathe a piece of wood, sometimes is a good idea to boil it 2 or 3 hours and leave to dry. IT IS TRUE, I turned some pieces omitting that step and other doing it, and the result is awesomely in pro the boiling. Lastly I am using the microwave oven, I put hot water into a plastic container, then the block of wood, over it a heavy stone to dip it, and give it some minutes to boil. After that leave the water cool, and put the wood in a shadowy place 2 or 3 days to dry.

Doing this, he wood releases internal tensions and gets its final form.
Good thought. Similar to stress relieving steel products.
Que bueno, Osvaldo!
Thanks, Bill. This is particularly true for hard wood. You can see at a glance the difference before/after the boiling. Maybe the few cases I worked was specially bad cured wood, maybe not.
Mi vecino era un trabajador de la madera, que murió el año pasado. Su esposa me dio su torno. Todavía no he aprendido a utilizarlo.

Un abrazo.

My neighbor was a woodworker, he died last year. His wife gave me his lathe. I have not yet learned to use it.

A hug

UGGGHHH, ¡cómo te envidio, Bill!

Uggghhh, how I envy you, Bill!
workislove (author)  rimar20002 years ago
Ha, interesting! Never would have thought of that. I'm just getting into wood turning and experimenting with different things - perhaps I'll give that a try.
nanosec122 years ago
This is very informative. I appreciate all the research you did prior to posting/creating this instructible.
Great instructable! Really well written.

Found the bit on fixing twisted boards particularly helpful...something I've always struggled with.
Thanks. Yeah, I buckled down and researched this topic after struggling through a project using some twisted lumber.
MikeCicc2 years ago
Ah! Good tip on not pushing the center of the board. I was trying to joint a bowed board this week and after half a dozen passes it was still bowed, only half as thick!
workislove (author)  MikeCicc2 years ago
Yup, I too learned the hard way. Basically, if it has a problem and you try to muscle it flat through the jointer, it will come out with the same problem - just thinner.
You have put a very nice tutorial together... Nice work.
workislove (author)  SlickSqueegie2 years ago
Thank you!