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post #1 of 21 Old 06-19-2016, 07:15 AM Thread Starter
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Thick lumber

Hey folks! I recently purchased some 12/4 red oak for the stand for the cabinet I've been working. After many phone calls, I finally found a lumber yard that had some that was dry - $6 a board foot! That was painful - the 4/4 I bought for the cabinet itself only cost me $1.50 a board foot, so I ended up spending more on the leg stock than I did on the entire cabinet!

I can't imagine finding 16/4 oak for thicker legs. I considered true 3 inch thick legs, but obviously couldn't find the lumber for them.

Does anyone have any tips on the sorts of places one may find thick lumber for furniture legs?

Should I be buying from a mill and drying the lumber myself? I had considered purchasing a few 12/4 or 16/4 green boards Inna couple species and drying them, but I don't really know how to properly dry lumber of that thickness. Wouldn't it take 3-4 years to fully dry? Or could I take it to a lumber year and have them kiln dry it for me? Do most people dry leg stock in whole boards, or cut it closer to the dimension of a table leg and let it dry that way?
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post #2 of 21 Old 06-19-2016, 07:35 AM
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A portable saw mill

Years ago I had some 4" X 6" posts milled to support some heavy beams. Eventually they all checked and cracked down the sides. It's just the nature of thick wood when it dries. Stickley Furniture makers used a 4 piece assembly to avoid that issue:

http://www.finewoodworking.com/how-t...tyle-legs.aspx



All 4 pieces are identical and the "lock" together to avoid slipping when gluing up. You could just a simple bevel with a spline as well. The object is to carry the grain direction around and have it look like 1 piece. :smile3:

How to do it here:
http://www.smittysplace.net/stickleyleg/index.html
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The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)

Last edited by woodnthings; 06-19-2016 at 07:37 AM.
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post #3 of 21 Old 06-19-2016, 08:18 AM
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I would just glue up 4/4 stock to more than the thickness I wanted and then plane to final dimensions.

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post #4 of 21 Old 06-19-2016, 09:05 AM
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I'd also suggest gluing up stock to the size you want. I think it results in a more stable piece, and should avoid the checking mentioned by woodnthings.

I did exactly that for a QSWO kitchen table I recently built. I wanted legs about 2-3/8" square, so I glued 3 pieces together, then glued on some thin veneer that I resawed from the same stock, covering the sides that had the glue joint. I later made several light passes with the jointer & planer to square them up & reduce the thickness of the veneer somewhat. The end result is that I have nice QS grain on all faces of the legs, and unless you get down & inspect them closely, the glued-on veneer pieces aren't noticeable, especially after breaking the sharp corners with some light sanding.

Here's a picture of a cross-section of the legs, and a couple of the table. (Note that I didn't build the chairs, just the table)
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post #5 of 21 Old 06-19-2016, 10:52 AM
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It can be a reasonable option to glue up 3/4" stock for the legs. If you do this be sure to try to grain match the wood so it doesn't look striped. Another issue is over time with wood movement you will very likely be able to feel the seams.
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post #6 of 21 Old 06-19-2016, 03:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Neul View Post
It can be a reasonable option to glue up 3/4" stock for the legs. If you do this be sure to try to grain match the wood so it doesn't look striped. Another issue is over time with wood movement you will very likely be able to feel the seams.




I've done this very same thing several times with good results when wanting to make thicker leg stock out of thinner material. And excellent advice on using similar graining patterns on the wood used.
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post #7 of 21 Old 06-19-2016, 08:44 PM Thread Starter
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Well I don't own a mechanical jointer or planer, so laminating thin stock by hand would be a lot of trouble. Though I like the idea of using veneer to cover up the jlue joints. I believe I could square up my stock well enough to make a strong joint without too much trouble, but I think I'd still have a few small gaps here and there that'd drive me crazy. If I cut some. 1/4" veneer on my bandsaw I could probably make the legs look a little better. And I think 1/4" (or maybe 3/16") veneer would be flexible enough that I could clamp any areas that were slightly imperfect and the glue would hold. I'll have to give this a shot in the future. I have a plan make a planing stop that will help me hand plane thin stock. Might be able to make this work.

The Stickley style leg is a neat idea, but I also don't own a table saw, and I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be able to make all those joints come together cutting them by hand!
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post #8 of 21 Old 06-19-2016, 10:14 PM
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You are in a state that produces a lot of hardwood.
Do a search for sawmills---You will find that most have kiln dried stock available-----

I buy most of the hardwoods I use from small sawmills-----good selection and fair honest pricing ---
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post #9 of 21 Old 06-20-2016, 12:22 AM Thread Starter
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Yea... Like I said - I made a ton of phone calls to find this lumber! Every local sawmill that has a presence online either only sells their lumber green, or doesn't have anything thicker than 8/4.

Maybe I'll attempt to laminate by hand... People used to do it before power tools, right?

Or you know, if I bought s2s 4/4 lumber for legs, that might still end up being cheaper than the thick stock I bought. I do have a place locally that will surface lumber for me...
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post #10 of 21 Old 06-20-2016, 06:27 AM
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Yeah, $6.00 is normal but I won't pay over $1.75.

In the "Milling" section I posted a subject "Cheap Kiln". I suggest you read it.
You can do kiln drying for under $100 including the moisture meter, pack it up when done and re-use it again multiple times.

Most of the lumber I buy is air dried to a degree but doesn't go down to the suggested >10% moisture content I need, so I kiln them myself. I purchase from a sawmill and it generally is sitting at 30% m.c. or so. Also the mills I buy from sell various thicknesses up to the size you want and beyond.

I don't care how good a master craftsman you are, the joined methods are not invisible and you can see the joinery. It might be so slight it (to most) is unimportant, and that is fine, but to me I don't like it. As also said, joined woods can move due to moisture/temperature changes. If you live in a house with many variations there can be issues over time.
My home isn't air conditioned and the moisture is all over the board.
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post #11 of 21 Old 06-20-2016, 08:26 AM
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To last paragraph of the original post:
Don't purchase thick green lumber. It will take forever to dry and will assume all kinds of shapes, cracks and checks. Then thickness will be lost in straightening and squaring the pieces. Better to buy thin boards and glue them to make thicker posts when they dry.

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post #12 of 21 Old 06-20-2016, 08:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by woodnthings View Post
Years ago I had some 4" X 6" posts milled to support some heavy beams. Eventually they all checked and cracked down the sides. It's just the nature of thick wood when it dries. Stickley Furniture makers used a 4 piece assembly to avoid that issue:

http://www.finewoodworking.com/how-t...tyle-legs.aspx



All 4 pieces are identical and the "lock" together to avoid slipping when gluing up. You could just a simple bevel with a spline as well. The object is to carry the grain direction around and have it look like 1 piece. :smile3:

How to do it here:
http://www.smittysplace.net/stickleyleg/index.html
Amazing that the central hollow part remains square!

Keep thy axe sharp.
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post #13 of 21 Old 06-20-2016, 08:56 AM
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Not really

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Originally Posted by Jig_saw View Post
Amazing that the central hollow part remains square!
The opening will not change unless one of the glue joints fails, and that's not likely because of the long grain to long grain surfaces which are very strong. I wouldn't worry for one second, using either of the 2 methods.

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)
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post #14 of 21 Old 06-20-2016, 09:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by woodnthings View Post
The opening will not change unless one of the glue joints fails, and that's not likely because of the long grain to long grain surfaces which are very strong. I wouldn't worry for one second, using either of the 2 methods.
If the grain pattern is exactly uniform along the length of the piece, then what you say is right. But this is almost never so, making the glue joints move in different directions along the length. If the post is fixed at both ends, it will certainly lead to out-of-plane warping and a square opening will not remain square.

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post #15 of 21 Old 06-20-2016, 11:28 AM
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Not so ...

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Originally Posted by Jig_saw View Post
If the grain pattern is exactly uniform along the length of the piece, then what you say is right. But this is almost never so, making the glue joints move in different directions along the length. If the post is fixed at both ends, it will certainly lead to out-of-plane warping and a square opening will not remain square.
If what you say is true, then all the Stickley furniture made would be falling apart. It's not true because wood moves across it's width, not length and so all 4 pieces would tend to move in the same direction AND because of the small width dimension, not very much if at all.

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)
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post #16 of 21 Old 06-20-2016, 11:41 AM
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The amount of wood movement in a table leg would be so slight it's not worth considering. Maybe 10 to 20 years you could run your hand over the leg and feel the glue joints but you would have to get a magnifying glass to see it. It just seems to push a little glue out of the joint as it ages. At that time the finish could be scuff sanded and recoated and you would be good to go for another 10-20 years. Of course eventually the glue will dry out and let the boards go but unless you are building an heirloom that is something for someone else to fix.
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post #17 of 21 Old 06-20-2016, 12:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by woodnthings View Post
If what you say is true, then all the Stickley furniture made would be falling apart. It's not true because wood moves across it's width, not length and so all 4 pieces would tend to move in the same direction AND because of the small width dimension, not very much if at all.
My point is the same process that causes checking and warping of a thick piece of lumber would also lead to the hollowed portion shown in the pictures not keeping square. I am not convinced that all the 4 pieces could be made to move exactly in the same direction along the entire length. How much warping actually takes place would depend only upon the wood and the moisture content, and could be small in most cases (unless the post is really thick). So the furniture may not 'fall apart' but some warpage would be visible.

Is there a picture (not sketch) of the cross section of a Stickley post say 5-10 years after it was made?

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post #18 of 21 Old 06-20-2016, 12:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by woodnthings View Post
Years ago I had some 4" X 6" posts milled to support some heavy beams. Eventually they all checked and cracked down the sides. It's just the nature of thick wood when it dries. Stickley Furniture makers used a 4 piece assembly to avoid that issue:

http://www.finewoodworking.com/how-t...tyle-legs.aspx



All 4 pieces are identical and the "lock" together to avoid slipping when gluing up. You could just a simple bevel with a spline as well. The object is to carry the grain direction around and have it look like 1 piece. :smile3:

How to do it here:
http://www.smittysplace.net/stickleyleg/index.html
For those without the shaper cutters to cut this type glue joint, you can just use a mitered joint. Plenty of glue area and the leg will be strong. Furniture Mfgs don't use solids for feet and legs and I don't see the need.

If you don't have time to do it right the first time, when will you have time to do it over?
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post #19 of 21 Old 06-20-2016, 12:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by woodnthings View Post
If what you say is true, then all the Stickley furniture made would be falling apart. It's not true because wood moves across it's width, not length and so all 4 pieces would tend to move in the same direction AND because of the small width dimension, not very much if at all.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Neul View Post
The amount of wood movement in a table leg would be so slight it's not worth considering. Maybe 10 to 20 years you could run your hand over the leg and feel the glue joints but you would have to get a magnifying glass to see it. It just seems to push a little glue out of the joint as it ages. At that time the finish could be scuff sanded and recoated and you would be good to go for another 10-20 years. Of course eventually the glue will dry out and let the boards go but unless you are building an heirloom that is something for someone else to fix.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jig_saw View Post
My point is the same process that causes checking and warping of a thick piece of lumber would also lead to the hollowed portion shown in the pictures not keeping square. I am not convinced that all the 4 pieces could be made to move exactly in the same direction along the entire length. How much warping actually takes place would depend only upon the wood and the moisture content, and could be small in most cases (unless the post is really thick). So the furniture may not 'fall apart' but some warpage would be visible.

Is there a picture (not sketch) of the cross section of a Stickley post say 5-10 years after it was made?
Not to labor this, however, wood moves across it's width. It does not change dimension along it's length. If you don't believe that, look it up:

http://www.woodmagazine.com/material...d-on-the-move/
How wood shrinks
Unlike a dissolving sugar cube, a block of wood doesn't behave the same in all directions as it shrinks. As shown in the illustration, wood shrinks most in the direction of the annual growth rings (tangentially). It shrinks about half that much across the growth rings (radially). And shrinkage with the grain (longitudinal) is minimal.

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)
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post #20 of 21 Old 06-20-2016, 01:13 PM
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Common sense would dictate that wood would shrink in length too but it boils down to if it would be enough to cause any problem. I have some projects more than 40 years old the wood has shrunk in length enough I think I could slip a thin steel rule between the end joint. It just can't be compared to the shrinkage of the width. I repaired a church pew one time that dated back to the Civil war and it essentially was a glue up panel about 20' wide. Here and there gaps opened up where the joints failed and by the time I pushed it all back together I ended up having to add more than a foot of wood to make up for what had shrunk.
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