Tips for Milling Rough Lumber You Can Add to Your Lumber Supply

Have you ever tried milling your own rough lumber before? If you have a large property with a lot of trees that either fall down or you cut down—or if you like to go out and purchase large— un-milled slabs of wood, this is a skill that can be very beneficial to have.

Of course, you’ll need to not only practice it to make sure you can get it right, you’ll also need to understand the methods that go into milling rough lumber so you can get the job done well. With this in mind, here are some tips for milling your own rough lumber you can add to your lumber supply.

  • Cut larger boards into smaller pieces: One of the biggest mistakes people make when they’re new to milling rough lumber is to flatten as large a piece as possible before cutting it into smaller parts. Instead, the better route is to cut a big, rough-sawn board into individual pieces for each part on your cutting list before you actually start milling. If you use the first strategy, the smaller pieces you cut could end up not being flat or straight, due to some of the internal stress built up inside the wood. Ripping the board can release that stress, and the pieces will find a new balance and shape. So, even if you cut multiple boards from the same piece of wood using that method, you might have two boards that aren’t straight or level. Cut your individual pieces a little oversize and mill from there.
  • Use the proper tools: Rough lumber can be very difficult to crosscut well. Its edges are likely not going to be straight or flat, so you can’t really use a miter saw, table saw or chop saw, because the blade could kick back. Instead, you should use a jigsaw, circular saw or tree-trimming saw for your cross cutting. In addition, make sure you perform your crosscutting before you start any planning or jointing. The crosscutting is what will turn your big board into workable pieces, so you’ll be able to mill much more easily and accurately.
  • Analyze the boards before cutting: It’s a good idea to get a sense of the quality of the board you’re working with before you actually start cutting. You should, for example, avoid boards that have been badly twisted. While you can joint those boards flat, they may continue to twist even after you’ve jointed them. Slightly twisted boards aren’t necessarily a problem—you’ll know a badly twisted board when you see it.
  • Let the boards rest: Let the boards rest before you take them down to their final thickness. They can sit for at least a day or so—you may find that boards you thought were flat start to cup or twist. You can then re-joint those boards and then plane them down to their final thickness. Giving them that time to rest after they’ve been milled is an important process.
  • Mark the grain direction: It can be helpful to mark the direction of the grain on the end of the board as you’re jointing the faces of rough boards.

If you’re interested in learning more about the best ways to mill your own lumber, we encourage you to contact us at our lumber yard today with any questions you have for our team.