If you are a professional woodworker or DIY enthusiast, the chances are that you will undertake projects that require thin stock. It could be 1/4-inch or 1/2-inch stock.
Most lumber and wood yards sell thin stock by square feet. Their prices are ridiculously high, especially if you buy stock with a thickness of less than 3/4.
You may ask, why can’t I plane down thicker stock? Well, this method could be easy, but it’s pretty wasteful. Big chunks of your material will end up in the waste bin, negatively affecting your woodworking budget.
Learning how to resaw on a bandsaw is the best investment for your time and money as a woodworker.
Resawing allows you to cut a board into thinner pieces of similar width and length. It will enable you to produce thin sheets of veneer and wide panels out of narrow boards. Resawing skill will also help you slice big logs into lumber.
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Step-by-Step Guide on How to Resaw on a Bandsaw
Choose the Right Blade
Resawing involves cutting through the width of a thick board. You will need to install the correct blade for this purpose.
The ideal resawing blade has fewer teeth per inch (TPI) than crosscutting and curving blades. The spacing of its teeth should be irregular to help reduce vibrations and produce a smoother cut.
For most 14-inch bandsaws, a blade with 2-3 TPI is an excellent choice. Blades with 3-4 teeth per inch have large gullets to accommodate the waste generated by sawing through thick stock.
The width of your blade is also crucial in determining your resawing outcome. A wider blade has higher beam strength and maintains its straightness better. However, wider blades are not always better. Most bandsaw blades have an ideal width of 1/2 inch.
Tension the Blade
After mounting the blade in the saw, the next step is to adjust its tension. Proper blade tension keeps the blade strong enough to rip through wide pieces of wood/ lumber without deflecting or making a barrel cut. It also minimizes the blade’s vibrations and helps to keep stock at the center.
To set a desirable blade tension, install a wood slicer blade on your bandsaw. Ensure that the thrust bearings and lateral guides are open and backed off above and below the table. This way, they won’t come into contact with the blade.
Apply some tension and gently poke the blade sideways using your index finger. It should settle at the middle of the lower and upper wheels and then deflect slightly in a way that seems to hit a wall.
Add more tension until the sideways movement is 3/8 to 1/2 inches on the saw with a depth cut of 6 inches.
Track the blade on the upper wheel and ensure that the deepest part of the blade’s gullet is at the center of the tire.
A bandsaw has a built-in tension gauge, but it’s not recommendable to rely on it as it tends to be inaccurate.
Adjust the Blade Guides
Now that the blade is well-tensioned and tracking correctly, close the wheel covers, plug in your bandsaw and turn it on. Confirm if the blade is tracking well at full speed. If not, adjust its settings accordingly.
Observe the blade and if vibrations are blurring it, increase or decrease the tension slightly. The blade should run quietly and smoothly in a straight line from wheel to wheel.
Bring the thrust bearings and lateral guides close to the blade.
Note: If your bandsaw uses the traditional steel blade guides, you need to replace them with cool Blocks.
Cool Brocks are modern roller guides made of phenolic graphite-impregnated resin. Unlike their traditional counterparts, these guides snug right against the blade to provide a more accurate and stable guided cut.
They also eliminate heat and friction generated by the metal-to-metal contact. This way, the blade becomes quieter, more relaxed, and smoother than steel/ metal guides. Cool Blocks play a crucial role in extending the life of your bandsaw.
Make a Fence
One of the most crucial resawing tools is a fence. Most bandsaws come with a fence on purchase. But if yours didn’t have, you can easily make one.
It is preferable to use a tall flat fence. It can clamp to the saw’s table and provide the necessary support for your workpiece. This feature comes in handy when resawing veneer or thin stock.
A fence alone does not guarantee a straight cut. Most bandsaws sway to the right or left when cutting. This behavior is known as blade drift.
The amount of drift varies from blade to blade. You can handle it by clamping the fence well to match the drift angle.
Another excellent way to handle blade lift is by using a single-point fence. It works by scribing a line on the edge of your material. It then cuts on the line by pivoting the material to match the angle.
Setting the Fence: Compensating for Blade Drift
Feed Rate and Techniques
Your bandsaw will help determine the necessary feed rate for resawing, despite the style of the fence.
As a rule, push the stock through the blade as fast as your saw allows. It should not produce unusual noise or bog down. Feeding too slow will wear out the blade more quickly. Feeding too fast leaves pronounced bands of the blade’s wide diagonal tooth marks.
The best way is to feed at a moderate, consistent pace. Doing so prevents the blade from wearing out prematurely and enhances its performance.
After the first few cuts, you will feel the right speed. A decrease in this cutting speed is an indication that the blade is getting dull.
One major limitation of resawing is that the blade gets dull too fast, affecting its cutting efficiency. It is recommendable to buy a carbide-tipped blade to prolong the life of your saw.
Cut and Plane
Make it a habit to plane or joint the face of your workpiece between each cut. This way, you will have an easy time when cleaning up the pieces.
Like any other woodworking skill, resawing takes time and a lot of practice to learn. But once you master it, it is a vital skill that will allow you to make the most out of your wood or lumber.