DAR, better known as “dressed all round” may be a term used for timber sold for the building industry, but is no where near the sort of finish and accuracy really needed in woodworking.

You can do a lot better in your own workshop, and correct some common defects at the same time.

Whether you have resawn your own timber, or bought some already (theoretically) dressed-all-round, the next stop is the Jointer (also called the planer in UK/Au/NZ, not to be confused with the planer in the US, which we call a thicknesser!  I will stay with my nomenclature of calling this the jointer, and the other tool the thicknesser – saves confusion (hopefully!))

The jointer has two main purposes in life (although once you have one, there are some other related tasks it can achieve).  Those purposes are: 1. to produce one perfectly flat side, and 2. to produce one perfectly flat edge at exactly 90 degrees to that first side.

Yes, you can angle the fence over, you can use it to produce tapered furniture legs etc etc, but the reason for having the tool in the first place is 1 side and 1 edge being flat, true and square to each other.

You could, if so desired, use hand tools to achieve the same – the trying plane was made for this purpose, but that is also valid for most (if not all) other powered tools in the workshop – they are versions of hand tools that work faster, with less effort.

The outfeed table is at exactly the same height as the cutting blade (and if not, welcome to snipe city), and you vary the depth of cut by lowering the infeed table below the blade.  I have mine typically set to 0.5mm – no need to waste any more timber than necessary, and although a bit slower (needing more passes to flatten a board), I’m not in a rush either.

You start by flattening one face (I’ll get into the whys and hows another time (and there is already info about that on here somewhere!)).  Ensure you use push blocks – the potential injuries if something does go wrong (too much pressure, hands slipping etc) is not worth considering.

Once you have a true, flat side, this is pushed against the fence, and the edge is then machined straight.

Check out the before and after photos – this didn’t take many passes and I now have a nice, square piece of camphor.

With that, this tool has finished its task, and it is onto the next – the thicknesser.

You may (and many have before) wonder why you cannot use the jointer to then flatten the other side, which will give you 3 sides, each at 90 degrees.  Sure, you most certainly can, if you want to produce a door wedge!

See, each side is at 90 degrees to the other, which is what the jointer can achieve.  But it can’t ensure the two sides are parallel!  For that you have to use the thicknesser (or a machine, such as the overhead router that references off one side of the timber when machining the other – which is what the thicknesser also does).

The jointer and thicknesser – two machines that are often spoken about in the same breath as they are very complementary.  Between them, you can produce DAR timber that is actually worthy of the title.

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