Reprint from THE "HOW-TO-DO-IT" BOOKS

CARPENTRY FOR BOYS
By J. S. ZERBE, M.E.
Copyright, 1914, by
THE NEW YORK BOOK COMPANY

A book which treats, in a most practical and fascinating manner all subjects pertaining to the "King of Trades"; showing the care and use of tools; drawing; designing, and the laying out of work; the principles involved in the building of various kinds of structures, and the rudiments of architecture. It contains over two hundred and fifty illustrations made especially for this work, and includes also a complete glossary of the technical terms used in the art. The most comprehensive volume on this subject ever published for boys.

I - II - III - IV - V - VI - VII - VIII - IX - X - XI - XII - XIII - XIV - XV - XVI - XVII - XVIII - XIX - XX - XXI

CHAPTER XIII

THE BEST WOODS FOR THE BEGINNER

In this place consideration will be given to some of the features relating to the materials to be employed, particularly with reference to the manner in which they can be worked to the best advantage, rather than to their uses.

The Best Woods.—The prime wood, and the one with which most boys are familiar, is white pine. It has an even texture throughout, is generally straight grained, and is soft and easily worked. White pine is a wood requiring a very sharp tool. It is, therefore, the best material for the beginner, as it will at the outset teach him the important lesson of keeping the tools in a good, sharp condition.

Soft Woods.—It is also well for the novice to do his initial work with a soft wood, because in joining the parts together inaccuracies may be easily corrected. If, for instance, in mortising and tenoning, the edge of the mortised member is not true, or, rather, is not "square," the shoulder of the tenon on one side will abut before the other side does, and thus leave a crack, if the wood is hard. If the wood is soft there is always enough yield to enable the workman to spring it together. Therefore, until you have learned how to make a true joint, use soft wood.

Poplar is another good wood for the beginner, as well as redwood, a western product.

Hard Woods.—Of the hard woods, cherry is the most desirable for the carpenter's tool. For working purposes it has all the advantages of a soft wood, and none of its disadvantages. It is not apt to warp, like poplar or birch, and its shrinking unit is less than that of any other wood, excepting redwood. There is practically no shrinkage in redwood.

The Most Difficult Woods.—Ash is by far the most difficult wood to work. While not as hard as oak, it has the disadvantage that the entire board is seamed with growth ribs which are extremely hard, while the intervening layers between these ribs are soft, and have open pores, so that, for instance, in making a mortise, the chisel is liable to follow the hard ribs, if the grain runs at an angle to the course of the mortise.

The Hard-ribbed Grain in Wood.—This peculiarity of the grain in ash makes it a beautiful wood when finished. Of the light-colored woods, oak only excels it, because in this latter wood each year's growth shows a wider band, and the interstices between the ribs have stronger contrasting colors than ash; so that in filling the surface, before finishing it, the grain of the wood is brought out with most effective clearness and with a beautifully blended contrast.

The Easiest Working Woods.—The same thing may be said, relatively, concerning cherry and walnut. While cherry has a beautiful finishing surface, the blending contrasts of colors are not so effective as in walnut.

Oregon pine is extremely hard to work, owing to the same difficulties experienced in handling ash; but the finished Oregon pine surface makes it a most desirable material for certain articles of furniture.

Do not attempt to employ this nor ash until you have mastered the trade. Confine yourself to pine, poplar, cherry and walnut. These woods are all easily obtainable everywhere, and from them you can make a most creditable variety of useful articles.

Sugar and maple are two hard woods which may be added to the list. Sugar, particularly, is a good-working wood, but maple is more difficult. Spruce, on the other hand, is the strongest and toughest wood, considering its weight, which is but a little more than that of pine.

Differences in the Working of Woods.—Different woods are not worked with equal facility by all the tools. Oak is an easy wood to handle with a saw, but is, probably, aside from ash, the most difficult wood known to plane.

Ash is hard for the saw or the plane. On the other hand, there is no wood so easy to manipulate with the saw or plane as cherry. Pine is easily worked with a plane, but difficult to saw; not on account of hardness, but because it is so soft that the saw is liable to tear it.

Forcing Saws in Wood.—One of the reasons why the forcing of saws is such a bad practice will be observed in cutting white or yellow pine. For cross-cutting, the saw should have fine teeth, not heavily set, and evenly filed. To do a good job of cross-cutting, the saw must be held at a greater angle, or should lay down flatter than in ripping, as by so doing the lower side of the board will not break away as much as if the saw should be held more nearly vertical.

These general observations are made in the hope that they will serve as a guide to enable you to select your lumber with some degree of intelligence before you commence work.

Chapter 14, Wood Turning

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