WoodCentral's Book Reviews
Woodworker's Guide To Selecting And Milling Wood

Woodworker's Guide To Selecting And Milling Wood
by Charles Self

Betterway Books: 1994
Hardback, 118 pp., $22.99
ISBN 1-55870-339-X

       Order Now!

     If you've ever wondered if that yard tree out back would make good lumber, this is a book you probably need to read. For some strange reason, it is currently out of print, but is available used (check amazon.com or abebooks.com).
     Charles Self has put together information on selecting, felling, milling and drying your own lumber. He explains softwood and hardwood structure, flatsawing, quartersawing, half-round slicing and rift cutting. He covers irregularities in wood, reaction wood and fungi.
     A full chapter on North American softwoods describes the cedars, cypress, fir, hemlock, larch, the pines, redwood, spruces and tamarck. The chapter on North American hardwoods includes all the standard species you'd expect, plus apple, catalpa, cottonwood, persimmon, sassafras and black willow. There is also a short section on exotics. The 'Gallery of Wood' is fourteen pages of full-color wood samples with detailed descriptions.
     One-third of the book is dedicated to felling, milling and drying. Chainsaws and their safe use is covered, as well as notching, back-cutting, limbing and bucking. The author discusses chainsaw mills, and briefly, bandsaw mills. A long section on air-drying and building a solar kiln, is full of practical advice for any woodworker wanting to learn and experiment.
     The last part of the book covers using the wood you've dried: jointer techniques, planer techniques, working with burls and using adhesives. There is also a chapter on plywood grades and veneer, hardboard and pressure-treated wood. The book is fully indexed, and includes an appendix of sources for tools and materials.
     Parks departments and utility companies routinely take down valuable hardwood trees that create wood free for the asking. After reading Charles Self's book, you'll be ready to make the most of every opportunity to take it all home.

. . . Barb Siddiqui