Rack and ruin - Woodshop News

Rack and ruin

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Woodworkers seem to universally agree that sanding, a task apparently hated by all, is the worst possible shop chore. It’s not. Dealing with a lumber rack is.

I actually like the sanding phase of a project. For me, it usually indicates that I’m reaching the climax of the project, the point where I can finally stand back and admire my handiwork. Further, I find sanding to be relaxing, especially when winding down – it’s generally easy work, and brainless enough that it’s the perfect relaxing end to a productive day in the shop.

No, the worst shop task is doing just about anything at all with a lumber rack. If you have a really large shop you have the luxury of having separate racks devoted to different lumber organized any way you want – by size, species, usage, whatever. The rest of us, though, are lucky if we have room for one multipurpose rack. No matter how well organized when you start from empty, in actual use it quickly becomes a nightmare.

I needed walnut yesterday, and have a decent quantity of it scattered through the rack. To get to it all, I had to unload half the rack. Some wasn’t even close to the size I needed, but you can’t tell that till you dig it out, and all of it was splinter-prone. And like that Jenga game with the wooden blocks, removing one piece of wood (no matter where it is) tends to reposition every other piece.

When I’d finally retrieved enough walnut, I was surrounded by stacks of lumber everywhere – on my workbench, my table saw, my assembly table, leaning here and there. Putting everything back into the rack took far longer than taking it out.

On the plus side, the rack is now somewhat better organized, stacked more logically (gravitationally speaking), and roomier as a result.

And I’ve gotten most of the splinters out.

A.J.

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