Resawing is one of the fundamental ways to cut wood. For any given board, there are three possible types of cuts - rip cuts, cross cuts and resaw cuts. The difference between these cuts is the direction the grain is facing during the cut (see first picture below).
- Rip cuts are the most common cuts on the table saw, and involve cutting along the length of the board with the grain of the wood, splitting a larger board into narrower sections.
- Cross cuts are also very common, and just like the name implies they involve cutting across the grain of the wood, shortening the length of the board.
- Re-sawing is a bit less common, but very useful for certain applications. It's like a rip cut, with a twist - it involves ripping straight through the center of a board the thick way, producing two thinner boards.
Reasons to re-saw
Save money and material
Imagine I have a bunch of 1" thick boards, but my project only calls for 3/8" thick lumber. I could go out and buy some pre-milled thin lumber (which is expensive) or I could sacrifice 5/8" of my current boards by milling them down to size (turning good wood into sawdust). Neither is a good option, but by resawing my wood I can go ahead and use my rough-cut lumber, and end up with twice as much 3/8" wood. That's a good deal!
Book-matching, other grain effects
Have you ever seen nice furniture where all the front panels have matching or complementary grain patterns? How about a nice guitar top with perfectly symmetrical sides? Or a wooden box where the wood grain lines wrap completely around all four sides? Resawing is one way you can create those effects. When you cut a board down the middle, you will have 2 pieces that are almost mirror images of each other.
Make your own veneers
There's no need to stop at cutting a board in half. When you slice off very thin sections (1/8" or less) you are basically creating your own veneers. This can be quite useful for creating interesting grain patterns, like I mentioned above. But it can also be useful for stretching the usefulness of very rare or expensive pieces of lumber.
Also, with store-bought veneers, you only have 1/32" of wood to work with, and if you're not careful you can burn straight through them while sanding, scraping or planing. By making your own veneers, you can start by making them extra thick, then plane or sand them down as thin as you want.
So that's why you should learn how to resaw. Next I'll show you how I 've done it.
Methods - advantages and disadvantages
- Bandsaws are the most common tools for re-sawing. They are useful because they can handle almost any standard size board, and can even be used to resaw whole logs. Bandsaw resawing can be difficult for beginners to master, but a properly tuned bandsaw can greatly improve the process.
- Table saws are useful for resawing narrow boards. The biggest advantage of table saws is that they produce very clean, repeatable cuts. It's easy for beginners to get started, because resawing is just like rip cutting, but with thicker wood.
- However, as always, table saws are one of the most dangerous tools in the shop - and resawing is no exception. Resawing carries a higher risk of kickback than rip cutting, if the board tips away from the blade or falls into the blade after finishing the cut.
Photos found through google image search