Part 1 – Milling Old Lumber
In December, my Uncle Bob and Aunt Gail gave us a truckload of old Heart Pine timbers that Uncle Bob had saved when he tore down several old farmhouses. Since then, I’ve built a 7-f00t-tall shelf, a wine rack, and an old ladder shelf using the lumber. Those jobs were great fun, but were also necessary for me to build up my confidence with wood working tools and techniques and to get mentally ready to tackle the reason we got the lumber in the first place: a farmhouse style table built of reclaimed heart pine.
My plan all along has been to build a table that looks professionally built. When people walk into the house, I want them to ask “where did you GET your table?” instead of “oh hey look, you built a table. Neat-O”.
The problem with using old timbers that were milled by hand is that they are all different sizes, ranging from 2″ in depth to just over 1.25″ in depth. You can see in the photo above how several of the board have a nice little slope to them as well. This all makes for a very wonky table and is simply not good enough. I needed professional help, so I asked our friend and neighbor, Don Shomaker with Out Yonder Studio if he would help me re-mill the old timbers. Don is an exceptionally talented woodworker based just down the street from us in College Park. If you need any pro work done, from custom home interior stuff to custom furniture to art pieces, check with Don. We’ve seen a lot of his work and are always impressed at his attention to detail.
In order to mill the wood, Don showed me how to use some very expensive and powerful equipment, including a jointer that will take the tips of your fingers with blinding speed and a 3 horsepower table saw that will shoot a full length board across the room. Needless to say, I was pretty nervous using the equipment. Plus, there was an added bonus: if I missed any nails when I cleaned up the wood, it could potentially damage the (expensive) blades of Don’s equipment and send shards of metal flying outward at incredible speed.
First, we used the jointer to make two edges perfectly straight. The boards, while mostly straight, still had slight bows in them. The jointer takes away the bowing little by little. After using the jointer, we pressed one of the flat sides against the fence of Don’s table saw and cut off just enough of the other side so that it was perfectly straight. To make the fourth side perfectly straight and to make the boards uniform in depth, we flipped them on their side and ran them past the table saw again, cutting thin slivers that look like laminate. The photo below shows the boards after they’ve been fully milled and marked to be joined together. More on that in the next post. Thanks for reading – Robby