Expert Answers: The Dressing Procedure That Minimizes Tearout

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This article is from Issue 102 of Woodcraft Magazine.

Q: All of the instruction I’ve seen on dressing stock stresses the importance of working in a certain sequence to ensure flat, straight, square pieces. Usually, the following approach is recommended: Joint one face, plane to thickness, joint one edge, rip to width, and then crosscut to length. But I’ve also heard that you can first joint one face and one edge. Since you’re already at the jointer, this seems more efficient to me. So why bother to dress both faces before jointing an edge?

Steve Roswell

A: Great question! The answer lies in grain direction, which dictates a board’s feed orientation when jointing. For stability and clean-cutting, a board should be fed concave-face or -edge down, with the grain sloping downward toward the trailing end of the board. After performing this first step, yes, you could then orient that dressed face against the jointer fence and joint one edge. However, the grain slope may or may not be oriented properly. On the other hand, if you’ve already thicknessed the board, you can choose which face to run against the fence to yield the cleanest cut on the edge. This allows for an efficient, systematic approach to stock-dressing. For more on this very important topic, visit woodcraftmagazine. com and click on onlineExtras.

Paul Anthony
Senior Editor, Woodcraft Magazine


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