Thursday, January 23, 2014

Where Wood Comes from Part 2

In part one of this post we got to the point of rough boards. Those boards have to be finished so they can be used for trim and ceilings (our intended end use).

We had seven dried stacks of rough cut, each about 1,000 square feet, so a pretty big finishing project.

The first step is to cut off any cracked or twisted ends. Most boards (even though we sealed them) needed 4 or so inched cut off each end.

Rough lumber isn't exactly straight, so next we clamped the board to a straight edged sled to run it through the table saw to give us one pretty straight edge. We would do a bunch of boards then readjust the table saw and pass them back through the table saw to straighten the other edge.

The below photos show a board prior to the first pass and after with one edge straightened.

Next the boards were run over the jointer to make a flat bottom, that can take 2 or 3 or 4 or more passes depending on how warped or how many knots are sticking up.

We tried to run boards with the cupped side down through the jointer as we could leave some rough spots that were centered on the boards as only one side of the boards was going to be seen.Below is a piece done going through the planer, with a fairly rough bottom side.

The next process was planing, again taking several passes through a machine that shaves the top off the board, taking a bit off on each pass till we have a fairly smooth top at the point where the board thickness is the same for every board.

For the majority of the boards (those becoming ceiling) were then sent through the tablesaw one last time to make a groove so the boards could be butted together. We did not do tongue and grooves that interlock as that would have been overkill for our use.

The last machine step was a pass or two through a sander to smooth out any machining marks and raised grain and minor surface issues. Below shows an unfinished cutoff end on planed and jointed boards. It also shows the clear difference between basswood (lighter on left) and ash (much more pronounced grain - on right).

Then the boards were sealed with landarc finish.

Then cut to length and installed.

Backing all the mechanical processes up was a custom rigged dust collection system. With 7 +-12'x4'x6' pallets of rough cut wood, each in excess of 3000lbs and a good portion of that being turned into wood chips and sawdust a solid dust collection system was critical to the operation. I took a cheapo Grizzly bag style collector, coupled it with a cyclone bought off ebay, used 55 gallon plastic drums to collect dust, piped the exhaust air out the back wall to avoid any filters, made one central vac attachment point that quickly switches from machine to machine, and most importantly put it in the garage space so the noise is not in the shop.

All the machines take maintenance, adjusting based on amount of variance of each board, sharpening/blade changing, lubing, dusting, emptying big containers of dust.

I learned that to make a bunch of trees into a big pile of finished wood means a REALLY lot of handling of each piece, a lot of sawdust, a lot of scrap wood for kindling.

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