Move on to rough-sawn
If you’re a woodworker who wants to move on to more advanced projects, there’s only one path; that’s learning how to flatten rough-sawn wood. Continuing to buy S4S (smooth all four sides) at the home center will limit your project portfolio for two reasons. First, you’re stuck with 3/4-in.-thick stock. Advanced woodworking calls for a myriad of thicknesses only available in rough-sawn form. Second, by flattening dry, rough-sawn wood, you’ll end up with boards that are perfectly flat, straight and true, which is rare with store-bought boards.
The must-have flattening tools
It takes an investment to flatten wood, though. You can’t pull this off without a jointer, surface planer and table saw. You could spend a ton of money on a jointer, but a basic 6-in. jointer will do most everything you’ll need; prices start at about $400. If you’re only doing small projects, you can get away with a 4-in. jointer for less money, but you won’t be able to flatten wider boards. Surface planers start at about $350. But you won’t get good results with either tool unless you keep them equipped with sharp knives. As for the table saw, any type will work fine, including portables.