I’m sneaking this post in on a Monday for those of you who enjoy reading about woodworking. This short study on how to go from boards to product is somewhat inspired by my blog-buddy Dan over on the other coast. Dan wrote about people who have lost thumbs and fingers. It’s a really good post. Feel free to take a few minutes and read that. Seriously, I can wait.
The reason I say that that post somewhat inspired this one, is because “production” woodworking, the kind where you are repeating the same operation many times, is a good way for an amateur woodworker to get seriously hurt. In industrial settings, dangerous operations are automated. That’s not usually possible in a small shop.
My goal was to turn several eight inch wide and roughly 7/8 of an inch thick Cedar boards into about nine feet of wainscoting for my brother’s bathroom. To give you an idea of the production nature, follow the math below:
Cut – The first step was easy, safe and fast. I had to cut 10 four foot long blanks out of the long boards. Since three of the boards were 12 feet long, I only needed to make seven cuts.
RIP – This was the first production step. Each blank yielded three 2 ¼ ” (that’s the symbol for inches for you metric folks) wide strips, but each sequence of three cuts brought me closer to the blade. 30 cuts were required. Several years ago, this kind of operation ended with my left index finger following a board through the saw, slicing the end of my finger in half. Thanks to a talented seamstress (actually a Physician’s Assistant), I can still count to ten. The edges were surfaced at this point, reducing the strips to 2 1/16” wide.
Slice – Resaw the 30 strips into 60 strips that are ~ 7/16” thick. Since one side of the cedar was rough, the slice was a little off-center at the bandsaw, so I could put one piece through the planer on each side.
Surface – This is the only tool I have with power feed, so it’s the only video. The thicker slice was surfaced on the rough side and then every strip went through to remove the bandsaw marks so they are smooth and roughly 11/32” thick. This is the same tool I used to remove the saw marks on the edges after ripping the strips to rough width. The edges required 60 passes, the flat sides required 180
Shape – The shaper is the most effective tool I own for cutting the “rabbet” notch on opposite sides of each strip. This is a very dangerous operation so I added “hold-down” guides to keep the strips engaged with the cutter and prevent my fingers from going along for the ride. In 120 passes, my fingers bumped into the guides three times.
Shave – The strips were simply too narrow and thin for me to risk running them through a power tool. A production shop would have a special cutter head that could mill the rabbet and bevel in one pass. I did it by hand because it’s safer and these are two of my favorite tools to use. I had the knife set so that only three passes were required, but that’s a total of 360 strokes.
The result is a series of strips whose beveled edges will form a V-groove as they cover the distance on the wall. I’ll also be using some of these to form the backs of a couple of little shelving units.