Cutting and Staining your own lumber

by Stephen Hatch ..WTA
(Click pictures for larger image)

Madrone Trees

I had to cut up some Madrone trees that fell last winter and I noticed that they had a real nice scale looking grain. These grow in N-California but not many other areas. The wood is very close to Bass wood in grain and texture. However, I also use oak chunks. You get a little fuzz on the edges (a little sanding fixes it).

Fire Wood Chunks

I took some of the pieces and ran them through the table saw at about 3/16ths to 1/4 inch thick. This gave me slabs of wood a little thicker than an 'S' scale foot. I used pieces that were no taller than my blade would go through. I trimmed the branches off as I went. Most firewood is hard enough to use for strip wood. It will cut just fine.

Cutting Strips

I have one of those cheap band-saws that isn't very good for much.....but it turns out it works just fine for cutting strips. I clamped a steel straight edge 1 scale inch from the blade and started slicing strips off of the Madrone slabs. Excellent. 1x12 planks.
Then I set it for 6 inch wide and re-cut the strips to 1x6's.
I was really pleased with how easy it was to cut strips on this little 3 wheel bandsaw. It won't cut plywood very well but it cuts strip wood like a champ.

Simple Easy Staining

I really like shoe dyes for wood staining. I empty most of the bottle into another jar (to use later) and fill the bottle with plain alcohol (from the drug store). This diluted leather dye stains the wood with no mess or fuss. No brushes to dry out etc. You have to try different amounts of dye to alcohol to get the stain just right. I like it thin for light coats.

I like to cut the strips to length before I stain them. Years ago I made a cutter to cut strip wood to length. It's ugly but it works so I use it.
Click for a picture

Stain before assmbly

If you stain all the lumber that just came out of your saw, you are sure to get some interesting variations in the color and depth of the stain in each individual board. This gives the finished model a natural shading as well as a weathered effect....with no other processing.
I use the sponge that came on the bottle....just as is. Put the cap back on when your not using it. Won't dry out as quick.

Darker staining

After you've assembled a wall or what-have-you you can again stain a bit more to blend the pieces. If you get it too dark......just put some of the alcohol on a rag and you can lighten the boards and change their color. This doesn't work if the stain has set for many days. But it works if it's used fairly soon.

Black and Brown

I use both black and brown dyes. The brown gives the wood a redish effect....just like the natural weathering of old wood. The black gives it the gray effect and the brown....the redishness. By varying the amount and number of times you stain, you can get the wood real dark or real light.

An Engine shed from the strips

Here is the Engine shed I built to try out the strip wood. Not much of a building but it shows some of the uses you can put the strip wood to. I also make fences this way...

Here's some home made corrugated roofing.


The new Buena Vista extension

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