View Full Version : Rough sawn lumber vs. surfaced
09-13-2004, 09:18 PM
I don't really understand what the advantage of rough sawn lumber is over surfaced besides cost. It seems that in most of the books I have the author uses rough sawn lumber.
Even if using surfaced lumber you would probably still need a jointer/planer right? I think the reason for this is that when lumber is cut, chances are it warps slightly immediately and when it's stored it also slowly warps. This is probably critical for table top glue ups and the like.
09-13-2004, 09:24 PM
Cost is definitely a factor in favor of rough sawn lumber. Another positive is the fact that because of the movement you mentioned, rough sawn gives you more room for final dimensioning when you are actually sizing the piece for a project.
I'm no pro by a long shot but that is how I see it.
09-13-2004, 09:54 PM
One of the big attractions of rough lumber is that you have the full amount of material to surface yourself and square it off. If you get surfaced 4/4 stock and end up needing to remove more material because the lumber cupped or twisted after it was surfaced (due to changes in heat and humidity, or due to internal stresses being released in the lumber during surfacing), then you end up with thinner final stock.
I've been getting my stock rough before I'm ready to start the project, letting it sit in my shop for a couple weeks, joint and plane it mostly to size, let it sit for a couple days, and then joint and plane it to the final size. The rest-time seems to give the wood time to adjust to the gradual changes.
09-14-2004, 04:25 AM
What Rob said.
Also the price. You're paying to have them surface, edge and thickness plan the stock. It's another one of the costs that you can keep down. You'll pay for a jointer and planer in no time.
09-14-2004, 08:19 AM
Cost is the last thing I think about when I purchase rough sawn lumber.
Dimensional stability, and squareness IS the primary reason I buy rough sawn.
I mill my stuff when I use it. I actually rough mill it to size first, then I finish mill to exact dimension before assembly. By doing it that way I have straight square pieces. No cup, twist, warp or any other defects.
Finish milled lumber as purchased at HD or any other place will have some defect to it. Sometings slight, sometimes severe. You will still need to mill it to true it up, then it will be undersize.
I beleive the cost issue is a wash. You need to maintain the jointer, planer. Electricity, knife sharpening, and time invested. I don't consider it a cost savings. I do consider it a quality issue.
09-16-2004, 07:48 AM
When the mill or the supplier . . . plane the rough stock, they are running 1000s or more board feet of lumber through the planer, twice, so they are leaving a set amount of wood after each pass, therefore taking a variable amount off on the first pass depending on the thickness of the individual board. Thicker pieces have more wood taken off on the first pass than on the second pass. When you plane the lumber yourself, it is recommended that you remove an equal amount (or at least an approximately equal amount) from each side by alternating the faces being cut (flipping the board after each cut) and lowering the cutting head about the same amount after each pass. This helps to reduce warp and cupping since moisture content increases toward the center of the board's thickness. When mass planing, the different amounts taken off on the first pass from the second one can actually induce stresses which cause the wood to warp or cup.
Because you can take off the minimum needed from each face to get it smooth, you can obtain boards that are 1/16 to 1/8 inches thicker on 4/4 rough stock than if you bought uniformly planed surfaced stock.
The only way to purchase wood is straightline ripped and surfaced. I order most of my stock surfaced to 7/8". The most time consuming portion of preparing the stock is the planing process. If the wood is different thicknesses, It will take a lot of time to get it to a usuable thickness. I run a small commericial shop. By ordering the stock surfaced, one pass on each side and I have 3/4" stock ready to build with. The cost for surfacing and straight line rip is less than $50 per thousand board feet. I have very little problem with cupping or bowing.
09-17-2004, 08:59 PM
As most of the people on the forum probably aren't running commercial shops... ;)
I'm paying $0.65/bf for S3S over rough, so that's a $65 savings over 100bf. All the lumber I buy is for myself, as is the "fun" time I get to spend in the shop. I prefer to save the cash and enjoy my shoptime, be it time spent with the lumber surfacing, ripping, crosscutting, or tossing it in the scrap bin. :D
At those rates I would be forced to buy a larger planer and do the work myself.
09-18-2004, 08:54 AM
Generally the "surfaced" stuff at the woodstore is skip surfaced which means mostly that they've hogged a bunch off of one side, to get it down to a uniform thickness, then shaved the other side on the next pass leaving rough places. If you're buying in 1000 BF lots, they'll make the effort to do what you're talking about for a reasonable charge. I'd rather get rough than skip planed but sometimes that's all that's available without paying premium for smaller amounts.