When I started woodworking as a hobby out of the many terminologies one that confused me the most was resaw. Why would someone saw the same wood again and again? Now that I know it well, let me explain what is resawing and why would you want to resaw wood.
Resaw Definition: Resawing is the process of slicing the timber along the grain direction to reduce it to thinner sections or to make veneers. In simple terms, you are splitting the thickness of the wood to get two thinner slabs.
Resawing is a type of rip-cut. However, all rip-cuts are not resaws. You can find a detailed explanation of this under rip vs resaw section.
Here is picture of woodworker performing resawing on a band saw.
Later in this article, I will explain the machine tools you can use for resawing and why band saw is the best choice to do resaw. But first, let us see the advantages of resawing why do you want to do this.
Why Resaw Wood
Resawing is done to mill logs into lumber, to reduce the thickness of lumber and to produce veneers.
Logs into Lumber:
Sawmills use large wide blades to cut logs into boards and planks by resawing. If you are cutting a log into lumber on your band saw, start by making a flat face on the side that is going to ride on the table. This is to avoid rolling-off of the log.
Exotic woods are expensive. When you don’t want to use the full thickness of the standard sized lumber, you can resaw the wood on a bandsaw or a table saw to slice the wood into two pieces.
The two different logs of wood will have different grain patterns. Resawing produces two slabs with almost identical grain that can be book-matched. Moreover, the inside of the sliced surface may reveal more interesting grain patterns and colors.
A wood veneer is a thin layer of wood cut from timber. They are usually 0.5mm to 2.5mm or less than 1/8-inch in thickness. Wood veneers are cut by resawing. Veneers are widely used in making furniture and for interior decoration.
Furniture made out of MDF is often covered by veneers that are glued on both sides of the main panel to seal and stabilize. Veneer sheets, veneer beading, and veneer wallpaper are all used for interior designs.
Rip Vs Resaw
What is the difference between ripping and resawing?
Both ripping and resawing are cutting the wood along the grain direction. However, in ripping you are cutting across the width whereas resawing refers to the cutting across thickness.
Take a look at the images below that illustrates the difference between resaw and rip-cut.
Note that in both cuts the length of the lumber is not reduced.
|Ripping||Reduction in width. Length and Thickness remains the same.|
|Resawing||Reduction in thickness. Length and width remains the same.|
In short, rip-cut splits the wider board into two smaller width boards. Whereas, resawing slices the lumber into two thinner boards.
How to Resaw
Resawing can be done manually with a hacksaw or by using a machine tool like a table saw, band saw or sawmills. Since we are mainly talking about power tools, let’s focus on the two types powers saws that the woodworkers often use.
Resawing Band saw vs table saw
The basic process of resawing is similar on both the machines. You have to set the blade straight. Set the fence parallel to the blade at the desired position according to the thickness of the slab you want to cut. Then you push the lumber against the fence and feed it against the blade to make the cut.
For resawing, a band saw is preferred over a table saw mainly because of two reasons.
- Bandsaws can resaw much wider boards
- Thin kerf; table saw blade kerf is usually much thicker.
Resawing on Table Saw
Every woodworker has a table saw. It is one of the most versatile tools that can perform a variety of cuts. Resaw is no exception. However, there is a limit to which the table saw blade can be raised above the table surface. Due to this limitation, you cannot resaw wider boards or planks on a table saw.
However, there is a solution. On a table saw you can use two-pass to cut wider boards.
The procedure is simple. After you made the first cut, flip the wood edge on edge to butt the same side against the fence and make a second cut. However, this only works when you resaw boards with a width less than twice the amount of maximum blade rise.
This is because boards that are wider will leave a bridge between the two cuts. You will have to take this to a band saw and cut it again.
Resawing on Band Saw
The biggest advantage of using a band saw to resaw is that it can resaw wider lumber.
On a band saw, you can raise the blade guide to accommodate much wider boards that can’t be cut on a table saw.
Furthermore, by using the thin kerf band saw blade you will save wood and thus money.
Since the cut is finished in a single pass, the resulting edges are usually cleaner and straight. And finally, bandsaws are less dangerous than table saws.
For the best results, you should use a dedicated resawing blade and tune the bandsaw properly to get clean sawn edges.
Wood slicer blades for Resawing on Band saw
Use a thin kerf blade with 2-5 TPI (tooth per inch) for resawing. Many band saw blade manufacturers are producing dedicated wood slicer blades with minimal set. Get a blade with the variable pitch since they are known for reducing the vibration and produce less noise pollution.
If you use a fine blade with more TPI, there will be less clearance for the sawdust. This will result in biting and deflection of the saw blade.
A wider blade would be more stable and will produce accurate cuts. A ½ inch blade should be sufficient for most resawing jobs for DIY projects. You could go for ¾ inch or 1-inch blade for better results. If your bandsaw can’t accept such wider blades, use the widest possible blade you can use on your bandsaw for resawing.
Resawing is the process of cutting the wood across the thickness and along the length to produce two thinner slabs of wood.
You can resaw manually or with the help of a machine.
Bandsaw is the most widely used machine for resawing.