Mike Holmes Jr Dressing Lumber Techniques

On the Jobsite: Our Wood Dressing Techniques

By Mike Holmes Jr.

Mike’s Advice / Woodworking/Carpentry

Thursday, August 2nd, 2018 @ 9:43am

Dressing lumber is the process of preparing any rough sawn wood, so that it’s usable in wood working projects. The first step in dressing any lumber is to check for imperfections in the wood.


Step 1: Joining Your Faces & Edges

Run the face of the wood through your jointer with the cup down. This is the most efficient way, so you don’t take off too much material.

*Tip* Dress all your pieces at the same time to make sure they’re all of the same thickness and width. This is really important, especially for finished carpentry.

Once you’ve joined the first face, its time to join an edge with the crook (I call it a cup or belly). You will want to ride the face that you’ve just joined against the fence so you will have a true 90 degree (square) face and .edge once you’ve joined your edge.

*Tip* If you have a lot of material to dress, mark the face and edge you’ve joined with an ‘X’ to keep from getting mixed up


Step 2: Planing Your Lumber

Now it’s time to run the material through the thickness planer. You will want to run the opposing face that you’ve joined through the planer (keeping the joined face down).

*Tip* Run each piece through the planer one at a time before adjusting the thickness.

Slowly adjust the thickness about 1/32”-1/16” at a time to take off more material until you’ve planed them down to near perfection.

Once your face is ready, I usually drop the planer down another 1/32”-1/16” and run the face that I’ve already run through the jointer now through the planer to clean it up nicely.


Step 3: Final Touches

Once you get all your material down to the same size , I usually measure the width of all the pieces one final time. I’ll adjust the table saw to about 1/16” smaller than the smallest dressed piece and run them all through the table saw, cutting off the final edge that hasn’t been dressed yet.

*Tip* You can run the final edge through the joiner after all your pieces, but you shouldn’t have to if your table saw is set properly.

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