How Resawing on the Bandsaw can put your thick woods on a diet and slim them down for building smaller projects
Face it. You simply can’t build small projects like gift boxes, toys and similar items with standard 3/4″ or 1″ thick lumber (unless you don’t really care how they’ll look once you put them together). Do the words “clunky”, “overweight” and “unsightly” ring a bell?
So, how do you avoid this malady? The answer is…with resawing, the process of making thinner boards out of thicker ones.
This process is possible on a table saw, as long as your boards aren’t thicker than your table saw’s depth-of-cut. For example, if you need a 1/4″ thick by 6″ wide piece of stock for your project — and your table saw’s depth-of-cut (typically, limited by your saw’s blade diameter) is only 3″, for example — you’re only going to get “half-way-home” in a single pass.
As a result, you’re going to have to flip your board over and make another pass on its opposite side. However, besides the fact that, for safety reasons, we strongly advise you NOT to use this approach, it also creates a board surface that’s stepped and uneven — PLUS — unattractive, to boot.
So, what’s the answer?
Simple — your bandsaw can do this job quite nicely in a single pass that will leave your board with an EVEN, consistent surface without stepping. And it is FAR SAFER than the table sawing alternative.
HOW DOES THIS WORK?
When resawing, it’s recommended that you use the widest blade your bandsaw can handle. The wider the blade, the less likely it is that your blade will deflect from the top edge of your board to its bottom edge, producing a cut that leaves your workpiece wider at the top of your board than at its bottom (or vice-versa). Another possibility is that this blade deflection could leave your board with a wavy surface. Wider blades are stiffer — and that stiffness means a straighter cut.
ALL ABOUT BLADE LEAD:
Often, bandsaw blades want to lead off line as you make your cut. That means that the blade will have a tendency to wander off your cutting line in one direction or the other as you make your cut. This is most evident when your plan is to cut a straight line.
This lead can be compensated for by making some adjustments to various bandsaw components such as blade guides or rip fences. If you have a newer model Shopsmith Bandsaw, your machine’s Owner’s Manual will show you how to adjust the rip fence to offset this lead.
If your non-Shopsmith bandsaw doesn’t come with a rip fence, here are a couple of shop-built resawing alternatives that will help you compensate for this lead.
The first of these is a simple L-Shaped device with a rounded vertical-standing edge. Start by clamping the device to your bandsaw’s table surface, next to the blade. Adjust its distance to the blade to match the thickness you seek. Important Note: Before you start cutting, use a marking gauge or pencil to create a line down the top edge of your board that you’ll use as your guide while making your cut.
As you begin to cut, rest your workpiece surface against this vertical rounded edge and begin to feed it into the blade SLOWLY for the best control. If your blade begins to wander off your cutting line, swing the infeed end of your board left or right to compensate for this blade lead.
The second of these is a variation of the first. It’s designed for those of you with a different brand of bandsaw that comes equipped with its own rip fence. It’s nothing more than a 1-1/4″ to 1-1/2″ diameter piece of dowel with one face flattened. Attach the flat surface vertically to one end of a short board that is then screwed to your rip fence from its back side.
Use it exactly as you would use the version described above. Make your cut about 1/64″ to 1/32″ thicker than the finished thickness you need – leaving enough board to run the sawn edge over your jointer or belt sander to bring it to the final thickness you need.
Resawing is a fantastic way to get the exact thickness of boards that you need for your projects.