You can find inexpensive tools (and wood) at yard sales and on-line sites like The Freecycle Network or Craigslist; you can even put out a wanted ad for specific tools. eBay is a good source for tools as well.
You just need to be creative, and find projects that are within the scope of your ability; Just google “how to make a (insert wood project here) from scrap wood”. This works whether you are planning a birdhouse or a coat-rack.
I hope this inspires you to make the journey into the craft! Please post your progress and (shameless self promotion) keep reading The Chenkin Workshop
If the log is green, you have to allow for drying and shrinkage, so you may cut the pieces 1/2′ thick and then use a thickness planer to get it to the final 1/4″ thickness, after allowing the wood to dry to dry. (8–10% moisture content before planing). This is some good information on how to dry wood; Cutting And Drying Logs Into Boards – Woodworkers guild of America.
after the wood is dried to 6-10% moisture content, you will need a thickness planer. Thickness Planers are available from big box stores, Amazon, and eBay.
After the wood is sized to thickness, you will need a jointer and a table saw to clean up a long edge and square the board.
At this point your 1/4″ S4S (surfaced 4 sides) boards are ready for fabrication.
Some caveats: These are powerful machines, and caution must be exercised with each machining operation. Use protective gear like safety glasses, ear protection, dust protection, and gloves. Make sure you have all the machines setup and working correctly, and make test passes before machining all the wood, so the slabs will be uniform and true. (parallel sides).
Depending on your specific application, you may need a larger bandsaw, a tablesaw, a jointer, and more – especially if you make the jigs and supporting tables yourself.
Thank you for reading, and Have fun making your own boards from logs!
Using an exotic wood in your projects can be visually exciting and fun. It adds an element of unique feeling to your work. Some exotics have properties in texture, tone, grain, and weight that make your work special.
The “Big Box” stores have traditional Lumber – typically an assortment of S4S Pine, Birch, Red Oak, Maple, and Poplar in varying thicknesses and lengths. Most typically 4/4″ dressed to 3/4″ finish thickness. while you are not paying for the waste, you are paying for a “milled to size” and ready to fabricate piece of lumber.
This is a photo of my kitchen table, with and inlaid chessboard , made by my dad in the ’80’s, and refinished by me. It is a combination of Walnut and Sugar Maple.
Most exotic and special order lumber ordered by the board foot, and is usually rough, meaning you will need a Jointer and a Thickness Planer to machine the wood to it’s finish size.
Traditional lumberyards, and the “pro desk” at a big box store can special order unique lumber for you, and even have it milled to size, saving you time and having to purchase a jointer and thickness planer.
If you look, you can see ads for Lumber in Craigslist, and Ebay is another potential source for exotics, as people tend buy much more than they need (I endorse the practice, and usually figure 20 – 25% overage, to cover errors and “oopses”). If you are really lucky, you can Google “Exotic Lumber” and a local source may pop up!
Don’t be afraid to put an ad up in the local lumberyard, or on some woodworking boards, to see if someone has the species you are looking for available. When we cleared out my dad’s basement, he had a lot of Walnut, Maple, Cherry, and other woods that he was “saving” for the right project. The woodworkers who bought this assortment of wood were excited to have it! Walnut trees mature after 160 years of growth; architectural grade Walnut from old growth trees is prized. This is especially true if you want a wider width, or want to “bookmatch” the boards from the same tree.
When you have the cut list for your project, add 20% for waste, and see what you can get. Be creative. IPE, a South American Hardwood popular for decks, may be available from local deck builders. that would be worth a few phone calls. If you make pens, smaller pieces my be all you need, and a furniture repair shop may have old case goods that have salvageable wood parts. repurposing wood is a very green thing to do.