George Vondriska

All About Wood

George Vondriska
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  • In-depth Instruction; over 91 mins
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  • Available for purchase: $39.99
As woodworkers, we use a variety of materials for each project we do, and it's important to understand the advantages and disadvantages of each. Just like not all trees are the same, the material we get from the trees differs as well. This introductory session will preview the wide array of commonly used woods and man-made materials that we’ll cover in this class.
Imagine taking a bunch of sawdust and chips from your shop, mixing it with glue, and forming it into a sheet. That’s basically how particle board and MDF are made. They’re inexpensive, which is great, but there are some downsides to working with them. Weight, strength, and abrasiveness to cutters are just a few considerations you need to make.
Melamine is in the particle board family, but includes a plasticized coating. It’s great for cabinets and shop jigs. If you’ve only seen white melamine, you’re missing out. There are lots of colors and patterns available. This is a very versatile form of sheet stock.
Of the sheet goods we consume as woodworkers, plywood is at the top of the list from a quantity perspective. It’s strong, lighter in weight than particle board or MDF, and readily available. Of course, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. What are the downsides to plywood?
Also known as Baltic Birch or Apple Ply, multi ply is a whole different form of plywood. No internal voids, thicker face veneers, and A LOT of plies in the core...these are all great attributes. They also make multi ply a more expensive form of plywood. So, why use it?
As your woodworking grows and you look for better grades of material, you’ll need to move away from home centers and lumberyards. How do you find a good source for better sheet stock and quality solid wood in your area? We’ll give you some tips on locating a supplier, and provide you with questions to ask to make certain you’re getting what you need.
What’s the difference between plain sawn and quarter sawn? Is it best if lumber is air dried or kiln dried? (Part of the answer, it depends…) What the heck is a medullary ray, and how do they figure into material choices? This session provides the answer to all these questions, and more.
Cutting logs into planks is only one part of the conversion process. Once cut, the lumber will be very wet, and needs to be dried. There are two common approaches; air drying and kiln drying. There are distinct advantages and disadvantages to each method including working characteristics, and the possibility that the drying process changes the natural color of the wood. In this session, you'll get the ins and outs of each process.
Can standard 2x4s, 2x6s, 1x4s, construction material in general, be used for quality woodworking projects? The answer is a qualified yes. These materials are inexpensive, but there are some downsides you need to be aware of if you’re using them, and approaches you can take to minimize potential problems.
All hardwoods are not necessarily hard woods. And all softwoods are not necessarily soft woods. A simple scientific classification defines hardwood and softwood, and these names shouldn’t be used to determine working characteristics. How do you do that? We’ll fill you in.
A board foot measurement tells you the volume of wood you’re using, not how many lineal feet. It’s very important that you know how to calculate board feet in order to determine how much wood you need for your project, and how much to order from your supplier. Another wrinkle…what’s the deal with 4/4, 6/4….? Don’t worry, we’ve got that covered too.
You don’t always have to buy the best grade of material. Many projects lend themselves to using a less expensive grade, and working around the parameters for that grade. We explain Firsts and Seconds, Select and Better and #1 Common, and give you buying advice that will help you choose the appropriate grade for your projects. We also explain the many operations a supplier can do for you such as surfacing and straight-line ripping.
Veneers provide a viable way to get a very expensive looking project, without breaking the bank to do so. A single piece of veneer can be beautiful, but when they’re sequence cut and bookmatched, they are truly stunning. Using veneer can add lots of new options to your shop and projects.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. What some people see as a defect, others will see as character. In this session, we show you a variety of “defects.” Our hope is that you can come to embrace the amazing beauty of wood, and the singular look that this character can bring to your projects.
If your projects have been primarily pine, oak, maple or walnut, you’re missing out. There are so many amazing woods out there to experiment with. Many imported/exotic woods can be expensive, but you’ll find truly amazing grain, color and working characteristics in these materials.
Learn more about the importance of knowing about material choices and determining what’s best for your projects
Learn more about your instructor.
17 Lessons
1  hrs 31  mins

As woodworkers, we use a variety of materials in our craft: Solid wood in the form of hardwoods and softwoods; domestic and imported woods; plywood; MDF; melamine; multi-ply plywood, and more.

Like choosing the right tool for the job, it’s important to choose the correct material. That’s why we created this class. We want to help you better understand the material you’re working with, and educate you about materials you may not be familiar with.

In addition to understanding material, it’s also important to understand what happens behind the scenes. How are trees converted to lumber? How are hardwoods ordered? What’s the difference between particle board, MDF and plywood?

This class comprehensively covers:

• Man-made materials (plywood, MDF, particle board, melamine, multi-ply, grades)
• Where to buy quality materials
• Milling lumber (plain sawing, quarter sawing, air drying, kiln drying)
• Using construction grade lumber
• Hardwood, softwood, and what those names mean
• Mastering board foot calculations
• Hardwood grading (firsts and seconds, select and better, #1 common)
• Paying for machining (surface two sides; straight line one edge)
• Veneers
• Incorporating defects into your projects (wane, spalting, blue stain, insect holes)
• Exotic/imported woods

Having this information at your fingertips will make you a more educated consumer, help you save money on your projects, and ensure that you’re choosing the best material for the job at hand.

George Vondriska

Formally trained in technology education, George Vondriska has been teaching woodworking since 1986. He has been the managing editor of Woodworkers Guild of America since 2007. In addition to classes at his own Vondriska Woodworks School, George teaches at woodworking shows across the country and has taught woodworking for the Peace Corps, Andersen Window, Northwest Airlines and the Pentagon.

George Vondriska

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