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  • Fred

The UPS guy hates me.

Our regular UPS delivery gal loves us. Hey, we've got cute kids, what can I say?

The UPS freight guy is not a fan. I ordered several of my larger tools through They're a big manufacturer of workshop tools (both woodworking and metalworking) that has a decent reputation for quality and an excellent reputation for customer support. They also come in around the middle for pricing and have a HUGE line of products to choose from.

Yesterday, the UPS freight 18-wheeler came to the house. He couldn't manage to back up our twisty driveway, so I ended up driving my van down with the trailer and we offloaded one piece of equipment at a time onto the trailer then brought it back up to the shop. I say that this guy hates me, but really, he was awesome. He was very helpful. He could have just left the stuff at the mailbox by the street 200 yards away from the workshop, but he did everything he could to help me get the stuff inside the shop.

We unloaded a band saw (about 300 lbs, 7 feet tall and quite tippy), a shaper (about 200 lbs, pretty compact and easy to manage) a drill press (100 lbs and not a problem), a power feeder for the shaper (about 70 lbs and also not a problem) and that was it. Oh, I think I forgot one...

The JOINTER! When deciding which jointer to purchase, I did a LOT of research and I ended up choosing a 12-inch version. I already have a 13-inch planer (I'll discuss how these work together at the bottom of this post), and jointers come in 6, 8, 12 and 16 inch versions. There are larger ones that cost more than my car, but I'm not really concerned with those. I went with the 12-incher so that I can prepare rough stock for building quickly. Lots of folks have smaller jointers (6 or 8 inch are common) and they often buy rough lumber, cut it length-wise so the jointer can accommodate it, joint it, plane it, and glue it back together. Can you imagine! Not this guy. No sir, not me. I'm going big. Sorry UPS guy.

The jointer weighed just about 1000 lbs in the shipping configuration. Can the UPS pallet jack in the truck lift 1000 lbs? Sure, no problem. How about my trailer? Yep. Lift gate? Of course. The issue was not just the weight, but this thing is about 7 feet long, so it's tipping all over the place! Using two hand trucks, the pallet jack and a fair bit of ingenuity, we managed to get the jointer onto the trailer and then from the trailer onto the raised floor of the workshop. It took us about an hour to get the band saw, shaper, drill press and power feeder into the shop. It took us another hour and a half to get the jointer in there. Some people have these things in their basements! I don't even want to know how that worked.

So, it's all in the workshop. Combined with all of the Oneida-air boxes that our regular UPS gal delivered the other day, I've got quite a bit of recycling to do in the near future.

How a jointer and planer work together:

When you go to a lumber yard, you buy lumber that is rough cut. It doesn't look like the pine boards of 1-by that you find at Lowe's and Home Depot (they're actually 3/4-inch thickness -- they began as 1-inch thick before they were jointed and planed).

If I want some nice 3/4 maple to make a piece of furniture, I buy stock that's 1 inch thick. This is often called 4/4 (four quarters). Everything at the lumber yard is measured in quarters, so 1.5 inches is 6/4. You get the idea.

That 4/4 board that I bought is pretty straight since I picked it out and made sure that if I'm paying full price for lumber that it will be reasonably straight. It's not exactly straight, though, as it was milled from a tree at a sawmill while it was still pretty high in moisture content. As the wood dries out (either in a kiln or air drying) it changes dimensions slightly and it does so differently at different points of the board. Therefore, it's reasonable to expect the board to be slightly crooked, though preferably still basically straight. Also, as it dries, the surface becomes quite rough. Not something that you would want to use to build furniture.

This is where the jointer and planer come in. The job of a jointer is simple: take a board that's not quite flat and make it really, really flat on one side. Technically, you do this on two sides, one of the board's large flat surfaces and one of the short sides adjacent and at a 90 degree angle to that large flat surface.

So, after running a rough cut board over the jointer several times to get two adjacent sides flat and at 90 degrees to one another, you head over to the planer. A planer does one thing: it changes the thickness of a board so that it's the same thickness all along the length. The issue with this is that if the board is crooked and you run it through the planer without using the jointer first, you'll have a uniformly thick crooked board. The planer needs a good flat reference surface to make a uniformly thick straight board. So, you go from the jointer to the planer.

That takes care of three sides. The face that you jointed (1), the edge that you jointed (2) and the other face that you planed (3). To get that fourth side parallel to the edge you jointed, you use the table saw. You have a good flat edge that you push against the table saw's fence and you cut the other edge parallel (this is called ripping the board - when you cut it lengthwise).

OK, so there's some progress toward the vision and there's some how-to for woodworking. I should probably get back to doing some real work.

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