Dimensioning rough boards by breaking them down into smaller, precisely sized parts is one of the key first steps in any woodworking project. This preliminary process certainly isn’t the most glamorous part of working wood, but virtually every skilled artisan will agree it’s one of the key steps for achieving consistent, high-quality results.

In this video, artisan Eric Matson, who is the Director of the University of Rio Grande’s Fine Woodworking Program, walks us through the same eight steps Eric’s students must master early in their college training. Eric explains how even twisted, cupped, bowed or kinked boards can be quickly and safely broken down into smaller rough parts, which can then be milled to tight tolerances and made ready for jointing and other more refined processes. In part one of this two part series, you’ll learn how to rough cut boards to length, rip to rough width, joint one face flat, and plane both faces to thickness. But there’s more to Eric’s approach than just these basic steps. Eric also shows you how to stay organized and mill parts in batches, and why it’s important to prepare extra parts for set-up, testing, and disaster recovery. His entire approach offers you a comprehensive strategy that will help you achieve the tight tolerances essential for master quality work. — Keith (11 Minute Woodworking Video)

Click here for Part Two, the final segment in this series. Watch steps 5 through 8..

Eric Matson is the Director of the Fine Woodworking Program at Rio Grand University. Rio Grande offers a one year certificate program, as well as two year associates and four year college degree programs. Graduates have the skills and knowledge to be productive in custom furniture shops and architectural/cabinet shops. Rio Grande (pronounced rye-oh) is in Southern Ohio.

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