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Milling Lumber: From Rough to Ready

Reap the satisfying rewards of milling your own wood! Confidently navigate your local lumberyard and gain valuable skills for beautiful results on your next project.
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Elevate your next woodworking project with lumber you can proudly say you milled yourself! Carpenter and professional instructor Luke Goodhue is your guide as you get to know your wood and learn techniques for working with, across or against the grain. Luke breaks down everything you need to know before you head to the lumberyard, including what kind of wood to select, saw essentials and lumber lingo. Moving on, find out how to identify common defects in your wood and get techniques for roughing out and storing your selected wood. Then, become comfortable using a jointer, use your body correctly and get tips to avoid tear out. Next, learn how to use a planer, work with wood of various thicknesses and plane legs! Finally, Luke will demonstrate how to safely work with a table saw to complete the milling process. Plus, learn how to tip-cut parallel edges, cross-cut ends and even use a cross-cut sled for stunning results.


Luke Goodhue


Luke Goodhue is an instructor, custom furniture maker and carpenter. He teaches in the Fine Woodworking and Lutherie program at Red Rocks Community College in Colorado, and his work has been commissioned by the Denver Art Museum, the Clyfford Still Museum and by private patrons.

By This Expert

Know Your Wood

01: Know Your Wood

Meet your instructor, furniture maker and professional woodworking instructor Luke Goodhue, as he introduces you to the basics of wood. Discover how wood is formed and gain an understanding of how working with, against and across grain affects your lumber.

7 min
Before Heading to the Lumberyard

02: Before Heading to the Lumberyard

Learn how to create a "story stick," a thin plank of wood that has all of your project's measurements on it, and be sure to get exactly what you need at the lumberyard. Then explore the woods commonly available at lumberyards and get Luke's tips for what wood is best for beginning millers. Then, gets clued into lumberyard lingo so you know what to ask for and how to ask for it. Finally, see the different ways lumber is cut to create the wide variety of boards available at the lumberyard.

7 min
Navigating the Lumberyard

03: Navigating the Lumberyard

Travel along with Luke to the lumberyard as he shows you how to pick out the perfect board for your project, making sure you don't buy too much or too little. Discover what to look for in a board and what to avoid. Then, pick up invaluable tips for roughing out your project's needs, as you make initial cuts using a circular saw and a jigsaw.

18 min
Jointer Anatomy

04: Jointer Anatomy

Now that you have the individual pieces of your project cut out, it's time to refine them into workable elements. See how using a jointer can flatten, straighten and square stock as Luke gives you a peek into this useful machine. Discover how to read the grain of your wood so you can minimize tear out and maximize success before you even turn on the machine.

8 min
Using the Jointer

05: Using the Jointer

It's time to put the jointer to work. Luke demonstrates proper technique and safety measures as he demonstrates how to flatten, straighten and square a variety of boards: long, short, and even table legs. Then, he highlights some of the most common pitfalls that confront woodworkers as he shows you how to turn bowed pieces into flat planks and minimize tear out.

19 min
Using the Planer

06: Using the Planer

Learn how to use a planer to achieve a uniform thickness on a plank, or even on multiple planks. First, delve into how a planer works and how you should operate it to achieve maximum success with minimal danger and tear out. Then, see how to achieve uniform thickness over your entire project as you plane multiple boards to the exact same width. Finally, learn how to create perfectly square table legs and how to avoid snipe, where the ends of your board are thinner than the middle.

16 min
Using the Table Saw

07: Using the Table Saw

Finish milling out your lumber as you take one last pass on the sides and edges with a table saw. Learn essential safety tips and the tools you'll need to achieve safe, smooth cuts. Gather tips for cutting long sides and short edges as you finish creating lumber that has flat and parallel faces, sides and edges.

17 min