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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
No routing involved, just making use of wood that got messed up in other projects.

While working on the fort ladder for my granddaughter, when screwing the structural screws into the end grain of the treads, they split. I remade all of them, with pre-drilling and that all turned out fine.

I wasn't sure what I'd ever use the split tread wood for, but just this week, while playing with my 6-yr old granddaughter, building "Kapla" blocks, it struck me. We had exhausted our supply of 200 blocks in the set she has had for several years but until recently had not shown much interest. She said "we need more blocks". DING! I said "I can make some". So I did. Kapla blocks are approximately 5/16" x 1" x 4-5/8".

I could not tell exactly what kind of wood the Kapla blocks are; they looked almost to be pine. I started looking at the pine I have, but it seemed too soft. So I looked at the Douglas fir I had, including the split tread pieces. Looked like a decent match and I though of the split ladder tread pieces because of the close-to-quarter-sawn grain.

I had selected the tread lumber for as much quarter sawn grain as I could, but it still had a lot of angular grain. It looked like I could get some very perpendicular grain if I cut out sections from the treads at an angle. So, I took to the table saw. Not difficult. They turned out trapezoidal, so I squared them up.

Then it was to the planer to get the blanks to the right width, followed by sawing into strips about 5/32" thick. This required resawing on the bandsaw. Then planing to a width of 0.305", to match the originals. Cutting to length was done with my Incra 1000SE miter gauge. Matching dimensions was initially done using calipers, but final dimensions were matched using what I'll call the "finger slide", laying the blocks on a smooth, uniform surface and feeling for differences in thickness, something that can be much more sensitive than even precision measuring tools.

I am very pleased with the match between the originals and my blocks, in dimensions, color, firmness and weight, so I think the D. fir was a good choice. Due to the split sections and other flaws in the tread material, I was only able to get 110 new blocks. Comparing the grain patterns between the originals and my blocks, I think I can relax my standards for the amount of angular grain and get more out of some of the treads I chose not to use, plus some other scrap I have lying around. It just needs to be long enough to run through the planer. I want to get another 90 blocks made at least, so I'll give this a go soon.

Rick
 

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nicely done...
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
It says they're made from Pine, from the South of France.
I'd never heard of KAPLA Blocks before, great concept!
https://www.kaplaus.com/
Thanks, I did not look far enough to discover that. I have some pine strips already planed to size. Just didn't cut them to length as I was unsure of how they would hold up. I wonder if the pine strips are made of is softer than the French pine. Pine in my area (NE Oregon) is likely Ponderosa, but it also would not surprise me if it were imported from other regions of the USA.

I will cut these up and put them into use, see how they hold up.

Rick
 

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If I remember right there is lodgepole or jackpine in the highlands to the east of you Rick. I was only through that national forest once back in 89 but I seem to recall it was similar to our area up here.

We had a lighthearted discussion once on the forum about the subject of whether there actually is such a thing as shop scrap and most of us decided that scrap is another term for wood that hasn't found it's end purpose yet.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
If I remember right there is lodgepole or jackpine in the highlands to the east of you Rick. I was only through that national forest once back in 89 but I seem to recall it was similar to our area up here.
I know of lodgepole but not of its commercial use as dimensioned lumber, only as fence posts and telephone poles mainly and of course by Native Americans as lodgepoles. It occurs only sparsely in NE Oregon, at higher elevations and in the north Cascades in WA, although I recall seeing it on the Olympic Peninsula in the 1960s.

Jack pine, according to Wiki is native east of the Rockies and does occur, at least now northward from about the 45th parallel in Oregon. It hybridizes readily with lodgepole. I am not aware of how it is used as a lumber species. Kid at the lumber yard where I get most of this was once a lumber grader in mills, so I can ask him.

We had a lighthearted discussion once on the forum about the subject of whether there actually is such a thing as shop scrap and most of us decided that scrap is another term for wood that hasn't found it's end purpose yet.
Yup, even to the point of being firewood or the sawdust as flux for casting boolits.

I finished cutting to length the planed out strips and tossed them (top, center) on the pile of blocks. Very evident they are different from the Kapla French pine and D. fir, which are all mixed together now. Single light colored blocks in the lower right and center right are due to light reflection, not the color of the wood.

Rick
 

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Charles may be able to confirm this but I believe the bulk of our 'whitewood' up here (SPF labeled) is Spruce rather than Pine, but I might be wrong.
I love the smell of Spruce being machined; sort of an outdoorsy spicy perfume.
It depends on where you are. From the border up to Prince George/ Vanderhoof/McKenzie it's mostly lodgepole pine percentage wise. From Williams Lake south D fir is probably second. The fir in SPF is balsam fir. Once we get up to about 4500- 5000 feet elevation the forests start changing to balsam and spruce. Lodgepole flourishes after major forest fires. Wetter areas near you and the far north are mostly spruce. I spent one winter up near Ft. Nelson, BC and it was hard to find anything besides spruce or poplar.

Rick as I recall the lodgepole or jackpine near you was big enough to make lumber from. I've logged lodgepole up to around 18 -20 inches diameter and close to 100 feet tall. Because it has so little taper and it's relatively easy to saw it's one of the preferred species for the mills.
 

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Yes. But it's a 'grab bag'; you get what you get. As Charles pointed out, BC is a vast forested area with just about every climatic zone except Tropical. Not that the Interior doesn't get ferociously hot in the Summer.
Most Summer days the hottest place in Canada will be in BC...Lytton, Princeton, Lilloet being good bets.
 

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@cherryvilleChuck, Hi Charles,the Lodgepole or Jackpine you mentioned in the last paragraph would be great telephone poles.We used to call trees that shape "tooth picks"& let them grow. They don't let any trees grow out nowadays,going by the saplings you see on the timber jinkers going to be ground up to make paper. James.
 

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OK; on topic...
I am intrigued!Out of curiosity I took a 2'-2x4 and using only my TS, with a thin kerf blade, I wanted to see if it could be done.
So, short answer; yes!
First I ripped the 2x4 standing on edge, to 1" plus a hair thick; two passes...one way then flipped it over and repeated... a 3/8" offcut -2' long falls off.
I'm not doing any planing, just sawing leaving just enough thickness to plane when I do this for real.
OK, now I ran both the offcut and the 1" slab through taking only a 1/16" off both factory eased edges on both pieces.
Next, I ran the 3/8" thick length though at 1" wide, yielding 3 lengths
Finally, using one of the 3/8" thick strips as a thickness guide, I set the fence for that 3/8" thickness and ran the 1" thick slab through Yielding 8-1"x 3/8" strips
Finally I cut all the 24" strips to 4 1/2" long
My total yield from that 24" 2x4 was 40 pieces. So, even allowing for a few scraps I should be able to get 150 at least from an 8" length
3-8's would give me at least 450 pieces!

Thanks again, Rick!
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
OK; on topic...
I am intrigued!Out of curiosity I took a 2'-2x4 and using only my TS, with a thin kerf blade, I wanted to see if it could be done.
So, short answer; yes!
First I ripped the 2x4 standing on edge, to 1" plus a hair thick; two passes...one way then flipped it over and repeated... a 3/8" offcut -2' long falls off.
I'm not doing any planing, just sawing leaving just enough thickness to plane when I do this for real.
OK, now I ran both the offcut and the 1" slab through taking only a 1/16" off both factory eased edges on both pieces.
Next, I ran the 3/8" thick length though at 1" wide, yielding 3 lengths
Finally, using one of the 3/8" thick strips as a thickness guide, I set the fence for that 3/8" thickness and ran the 1" thick slab through Yielding 8-1"x 3/8" strips
Finally I cut all the 24" strips to 4 1/2" long
My total yield from that 24" 2x4 was 40 pieces. So, even allowing for a few scraps I should be able to get 150 at least from an 8" length
3-8's would give me at least 450 pieces!

Thanks again, Rick!
You're getting the idea, for sure. It sounds like you were not considering grain direction, which I was (see photo in this thread about resawing), unless your 2x4 had very perpendicular grain (quarter sawn). Because of this, I was able to get only two lengths of 1" thick blanks from a section of 2x4 and did not want to use off-cuts because they had grain patterns I didn't like. Plus, I was using a 1/8" kerf saw blade, but I don't know that it would make that much difference. I am getting only six usable strips out of a 4.75" length of 2x4. Still, if that process works for you, great. I think I was working in a way that resulted in a lot more sawdust than you were, both from sawing and planing.

My resawing wasn't as consistent as I'd hoped and I got thin sections that didn't plane out, so I lost several sections that would have otherwise been good blocks. I also lost some of the ends due to sniping. I have a jig book that talks about making an extension bed that helps reduce/eliminate sniping. Too late for this round. I've sawn and planed that really nice 2x4 to width and thickness strips and am ready to cut to length. My estimate is I'll get about 110 good blocks, which is a fair bit less than I expected. I've salvaged most of the repurposed tread scraps so will get another 20 or so blocks, so our total count could be about 350, not counting the pine ones that I don't think will hold up.

I look forward to hearing about it when you do this "for real".

Rick
 

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Rick; The grain on the Spruce isn't as pronounced as the D. Fir. Very tight grain so you're right, I didn't worry about the grain direction. Since I started making stuff for our Kid's Toys Xmas program I've pretty much stuck with SPF lumber. I haven't encountered any problem with splinters which of course is a concern for toys. There were a few small tight knots as well...adds character :)
Since I can only get lumber by phoning in an order...no hand picking...I'm leery about placing an order for a doz or so 8's. No telling what they'll offload on me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
My concern about the grain direction is about warping. These blocks would not work very well if they warped much. That is why I am sawing them out for grain direction and getting fewer blocks per BF. For a lot of toys, it may not matter. I do have the luxury of hand picking my lumber, so I can get the best pieces to start with. I have never worked with spruce. Is the SPF you are using pine or spruce? Is there a difference? Is there a true spruce, such as was once used in airplanes?

For the ladder I was building, I selected 2x12s that had as much quarter sawn grain close to the outer edges as I could find, but had the center of the tree in the middle. I then ripped the outer 5" for the treads. The treads show that the grain was still angular, particularly where it got closer to what was the center of the tree. For these blocks, I cut the scrapped tread boards at an angle to get the grain oriented more perpendicular, as shown in some of my photos, which means fewer pieces per board.

If you can do it as you described, great, go for it. I would love to be able to do it that way. A lot less work and waste. But, at the very least, I am choosing to worry about the grain.

Rick
 
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