Rough Milling the Desktop

With the chosen plank in hand, it's time to head down to a nearby shop for some assistance. The goal here is to flatten the slab prior to resawing it into a pair of book matched planks for the desktop. At a hefty 3 1/4" thick, 2' wide and 7 1/2' long it's tough to imagine doing a large job like this by hand. So... keeping my own safety and durability in mind (!), I decided it's time to hand the plank over to the good folks at Forest Products Supply and their trusty CNC router.

The CNC router does an excellent job. The plank rests in a stationary position, shimmed and adjusted for level as the router passes up and down the length of the slab. Below you can see the results of the first pass. Close, but not quite flat.

I had the operator drop the bit a little less than an eighth of an inch for a second pass. This provided a flat, level surface, with a minimum amount of stock removal.

After that second pass, we flipped the plank over, setting it directly on the platform. No shimming needed for this side.

Now it's looking flat...

With that completed, I immediately loaded up the plank and brought it out to a sawyer who has the capacity to cut the wide plank. Unfortunately, as is typical around here, the maximum cutting width is about 24". This required a slight bit of trimming on one edge. This trimmed edge will be at the center of the desk.

After that we laid the plank down flat and he readied it for the wide horizontal cut. The cut was quick (about 10 seconds, or so) and then it was done. No turning back now!

Opening up the freshly cut center revealed the book match you see below. I had high expectations, but I have to say, I wasn't disappointed.

The amount of movement of the wood after the cut was minimal... about 1/8" of bow over 5' of length and 1/8" of cupping over 2' of width. The minimum thickness of the rough planks is about 1 3/8". This should allow me to achieve a final thickness close to 1 1/8". This is similar to the thickness of the Nakashima table tops at the Minnesota Landscape arboretum that I showed in an earlier post.

Before I can begin work on the desktop, I need to let the planks acclimate to the relative humidity in my shop. So, for the duration of the holiday break, and maybe a little longer, I've put them to rest as you see in the photo above. This set-up holds the planks straight and flat, plus it allows air to circulate on all sides which will help to even out the moisture level in the wood.

There's lots to look forward to in the new year!

Hej då, and happy shavings!

Craig