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I recently obtained some old (50 to 75 years old) rough sawn hardwood structural framing members 2x8 and 2x10 by various lengths. The wood is well acclimated to my shop but has some warping which requires treatment on my jointer and thickness planer. The problem is that my jointer bed is 6" wide. Is there an effective process for using the jointer on these wider boards?

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    I am jealous of your wood acquisition. Where did the wood come from? What are you going to do with it? – Matt Mar 1 '16 at 1:31
  • I was walking the dog in our neighborhood one day and it was stacked and bundled for collection. I came right back with the car and loaded it up. It was clearly used for framing in a home. It has some nail holes and is common grade material, but I have used it for a number of shop related edge trim, fences, jigs, and the like. – Ashlar Mar 1 '16 at 2:01
  • I have found other salvaged wood from time to time, such as when someone demolished a early 1900's bungalow house to make way for a new library. Plenty of oak baseboards and trim have gone into many applications in my shop and for odds and ends in projects. I have saved a few extraordinary pieces 1" x 16" x 12'-0" but have no idea what I will use them for. – Ashlar Mar 1 '16 at 2:05
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    With a choice piece of wood that is warped a better option to planing it is to try to straighten it. You may not be able to straighten it perfectly, but any degree of straightening is a big plus. You can straighten it by covering it up with plastic and boiling steam into the tent for 24 hours. Then placing it on horse and weighting it with bricks to bend it back straight as it dries. Inspect it every day as it dries and make adjustments as necessary. Make sure there is lots of dry air on all sides (don't lay it on a concrete floor or anything like that). – Treow Wyrhta Mar 2 '16 at 23:01
  • Many years ago, my in-laws had an old barn torn down. The ridge pole was, I believe, 8"x8"x52'. The demo company cut it up into little chunks to get it down because it was easier to handle that way. sob... – FreeMan Jun 16 '16 at 16:47
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See past comments re using a sled to stabilize the piece so a planer can be used as a wide jointer. e.g.This one

If you don't want to build a sled, another approach is gluing reasonably straight "rails" to each edge of the board (not the ends) to hold it in a consistent position. The tops of the rails will be planed away as you flatten the board, but if there's no hardware present that's harmless. Hot glue has the advantage of being easy to remove when you're done, though more aggressive glues could be cut free.

Or consider hand-planing to flatten.

Note that if you plan to cut shorter lengths, doing so before jointing may let you retain more wood since the wind will be less per board.

  • since the wind will be less per board did you mean warp? – Matt Mar 1 '16 at 1:33
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    @Matt, older terminology, a board "in wind" is a warped board. [This is wind as in to wind up a clock, not as in the wind from the east was very cold.] – Graphus Mar 1 '16 at 8:12
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    Sorry -- yes, as I'm using it here "wind" is a synonym for "twist" – keshlam Mar 1 '16 at 17:10
  • I was thinking "wind" = "bowed" as in "The wind had the mainsail fully bowed out.", but you way works, too, @Graphus :) – FreeMan Jun 16 '16 at 16:49
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Bring in some other tools

This would seem blasphemy to do to wood of this age but you could consider cutting the boards down their length and laminating them once you make them square. If you are already cutting them square then the natural character that this wood would have would be removed anyway.

Table saw and band saw come to mind. They should be able to handle the wood size. depending on how significant the warp is you would need to use sled jigs, featherboards, clamps etc. to ensure the wood does not move during the cutting.

Reduce waste

You don't necessarily need to do so down the middle but perhaps somewhere to complement the warp so that the two boards individually become flatter. Advantage here is that you would reduce the overall wood that needs to be removed in order to get the boards square. This advice is more geared towards cupping in boards when cutting along the length. If you have other forms of warp then you might need to cut across the width. Goal is the same regardless: Try to get straighter individual boards. See a good image on warp: How to straighten a warped board

Less wear on the tools and yourself and hopefully more yield when you are dealing with straighter wood.

Then you should be able to put them through the jointer and planner for squaring. Then, once the boards are square and cleaned up, you could laminate them back together again. Assuming the project calls for it.

  • The warp is not severe and mostly in cross section rather than curl or twist over the length. I was split the width by resawing to approx 3/4" thick pieces. and use one piece as a high router fence, but may switch to plywood instead and cut these up for other uses under 6". Still the idea of using the jointer for wider boards bears exploration for my shop. – Ashlar Mar 1 '16 at 1:55
  • @Ashlar My answer then might be more geared towards the general public then. If you have a 6" jointer I would run wider boards because of safety and you would have to do more than one pass anyway which might not be even.. which would be disappointing since that is what the tool is for. Perhaps there is a jig but I don't think so. – Matt Mar 1 '16 at 17:29
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Keshlam's answer got my mental juices going and I think I have an idea that may be a bit simpler than building a sled assembly. If the jointer blade guard is removed, the wider board can run through the jointer to level the inner 6" of the wide board. After it is leveled, the entire board can be passed through the thickness planer using 6" wide piece of squared lumber or plywood as a shim. From there the top can be planed level and parallel to the jointed portion and finally the unjointed portion of the first face can be planed as well.

As the comments point out, my initial thoughts had not yet considered safety adequately. A little more investigation brought attention to the European style guards which fully cover the cutter blades although they still mount to the bed opposite the fence and appear to limit the width of the board passing. The general design of these guards, however, look like they will work better than the american spring-loaded guards. Another alternative is to make a shop made guard that mounts to the fence and cantilevers over the cutting blades. I am considering making a test model to see how well it might work in operation.

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    I don't think I'd mess with a jointer that doesn't have a blade guard installed. Here's a list of accidents and close calls (PDF). – Doresoom Mar 1 '16 at 0:22
  • Second the safety issue pointed out by Doresoom here. Better ways never involve compromising safety. – Matt Mar 1 '16 at 1:21
  • Thanks for the warning, although a guard mounted to the fence might work. – Ashlar Mar 1 '16 at 1:27
  • @Ashlar, looks like you have some good ideas in your edit to increase the safety of your jointer use. Great improvement upon the answer! – Doresoom Mar 1 '16 at 17:13
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    If you don't want to build a sled, another approach is gluing reasonably straight "rails" to each edge of the board (not the ends) to hold it at a condistent position. The tops of the rails will be planed away as you flatten the board, but if there's no hardware present that's harmless. Hot glue has the advantage of being easy to remove when you're done. – keshlam Mar 1 '16 at 17:16
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Use the correct tool for the job.

When boards are too wide for your jointer or planer and you do not want to cut it up just to re-laminate it back together, use a hand plane!

The ones you can get for $20-30ish from Lowes aren't great but will work just fine after you sharpen the blade and possibly flatten the sole(bottom).

enter image description here

Use a flat piece of granite or marble tile (less than $10) with some wet/dry sandpaper to sharpen the blade and flatten the sole. Setup the blade w/ the bevel down and try it out. For very little outlay, you'll be able to flatten stock pretty reliably and without destroying the wood to just then put it back together.

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    +1 for handtools, but just using a 4 for this type of thing is a hard suggestion. It's tough for someone who doesn't use handtools commonly anyway and you'd ideally want a selection of planes for the amount of work involved. Given the choice I'd want a scrub plane or a jack with a good radius on the iron, a jointer for further flattening and a smoother. – Graphus Jun 17 '16 at 9:38
  • I disagree. For 'efficient' hand tool work, you'll want a range of planes available but its not necessary in the slightest... Yes, you might have some trouble figuring it out but nothing 30 or so minutes of fiddling won't sort out. Yes it is more 'work' than just putting it through a machine, but you can treat the wood as is without destroying it to put it back together. Yes, you might get some tracks if you go too deep but that can be corrected if planned for. If you ask some ol' time traditional masters, some would say longer planes are unneccesary – g19fanatic Jun 20 '16 at 11:33
  • I think you need to bear more firmly in mind these are lengths of rough-sawn hardwood, 8 and 10 inches wide, with some warp. I doubt there's a single woodworking guide out there that would actively recommend doing this kind of thing with just a smoother. This sort of task is precisely what a range of planes is made for, While I'd say doing it only with a 4 is possible (really tough with just the one iron) I think only with experience. For the complete novice I'd say it's more likely to lead to frustration and ultimate failure than success, given the difficulty newbies report in planing SPF! – Graphus Jun 20 '16 at 12:12
  • Its possible and with minimal financial outlay. I've done it when I started out and had to flatten my face joined 2x4 bench top. it was a small one but ended up being 8'x2". that's a lot of top to flatten and all I had was a #4. Worked great in the end. yes it was tiring and I learned a lot about keeping edges sharp and a hand plane properly adjusted but it was doable. Bench top is still being used today by one of my neighbors! I honestly believe that using the hand plane would be faster in the end than building a sled and testing functionality... – g19fanatic Jun 20 '16 at 14:31
  • Yes, but I have to point out: our benchtop was 2x material, not hardwood with warp. Not factoring in the material differences grossly underestimates the amount of effort this may involve. In case you've gotten the wrong impression I'm not at all arguing against doing this manually, I'm handtools all the way. But I can plane SPF for an hour or more straight without getting winded, however give me a single board of hard European oak to work on and I'm tuckered out in just 10 minutes. That's what's really key here, not whether dressing and smoothing is doable in the abstract. – Graphus Jun 21 '16 at 7:38

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