Before we can begin talking about any type of woodworking project, it is important that we learn about the journey of our lumber. From the forest to the lumberyard, there is a complex journey which turns logs into lumber.
We have different types of lumber that come from different types of trees. When classifying lumber, we have two major groups, hardwoods and softwoods. Hardwoods come from deciduous trees, broad leaved trees which loose their leaves in the fall. Also, the cells in hardwoods are packed closely together. Some examples of hardwoods are oak, maple, and hickory.
Softwoods comes from coniferous or cone bearing trees. These trees are evergreens. They have needle-like leaves which they do not loose in the fall. The cells in softwoods are more spread out than those in hardwoods. Some examples of softwoods are pine, fir, and cedar.
The process of cutting down trees is called felling. Although the use of man and chainsaw is still found today, there are machines which can harvest lumber more efficiently and leave less damage in the forest. Once the logs are on the ground the limbs are cut off, and the logs are cut to a specified length. Trucks are then loaded, and the lumber is taken to the mill to be processed. Once the lumber is cut, it is placed into a kiln, which dries the wood to a specific moisture content.
Click the link below to check out how a lumber mill operates!
When selecting lumber, it is important to take in some considerations. Be sure to check for defects in the lumber. Some defects to avoid when purchasing lumber would be: bows, warps, and cups. These defects can affect the outcome of your projects. It might be worth the extra time that it takes to pick through the piles of lumber and be sure that you are purchasing quality material.
Another important aspect of preparing a project is being sure that you have the proper plans. Whether you are coming up with your own creative designs, or changing an existing plan, it is important to take the time to plan out your projects. It is much easier to make changes on a piece of paper, not in the middle of construction in the shop.
One last item to consider before beginning your woodworking project: make sure all of your tools and machines are functioning properly. SAFETY IS THE MOST IMPORTANT FACTOR! Working in a shop setting is dangerous enough as at is, so please take the time to check your equipment.
Over the next few weeks, I will be posting a lesson on safe working habits while in the shop. For now, you have a little knowledge about types of wood, the milling process, and some basic tips on beginning a project. Keep in mind, that the steps in beginning a project can be applied for many different woodworking projects. Good luck, and stay safe when working!
Deconstruction: Building a House: Wood Processing. Retrieved November 16, 2011 from http://videos.howstuffworks.com/science-channel/36912-deconstruction-building-a-house-wood-processing-video.htm
Hacker, M. and Burghardt, D. (2004). Technology Education Learning by Design. New Jersey: Pearson-Prentice Hall.
Log Image. Retrieved November 16, 2011 from www.fordaq.com
Safety First Image. Retrieved November 16, 2011 from:bigstock_Safety_First_Vector_7506065