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Cut Down to Size

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image Resawing is a good way to get the most out of a piece of valuable wood such as this crotch walnut.

Simple techniques to mill thin wood for scroll sawing

Resawing is the process of cutting a board through its width, making it into two or more thinner boards. Resawing thick wood into a number of thin slices is a great way to get the most out of rare wood.

The ability to slice thick stock has broad appeal to the experimental woodworker because it greatly enhances your design abilities without requiring extra tools or accessories.

Blades for Resawing

Bandsaw Blades
There are several blade configurations for resawing wood.

Cutting thick stock puts maximum strain on both the blade and the machine. For best results, use the largest hook-tooth blade your saw can handle. Check your owner's manual to determine what the maximum is for your saw.

Hook teeth cut aggressively, and their large gullets have the capacity to carry the waste through the stock. Start with a new blade or a newly sharpened one. As the blade dulls, the cutting speed will slow, and the tendency to wander or lead will increase; increasing the tension from the ½" to the ¾" level may help for a while, but when resawing, there is no substitute for a new, sharp blade.

Resawing Technique

Before resawing, check to ensure that the table is square to the blade and that the face of the resaw fence is also square to the table. If the blade and the fence are both square to the table, they should be parallel with each other.

There are three frequently used techniques for making straight band saw cuts. One technique is to use the rip fence as a guide, but this requires you to adjust the fence to account for the blade lead. Another technique is to use a single-point fence to help guide the work freehand. The technique that I prefer, and think is the easiest to use, is a curved resaw guide, such as the Kreg fence, attached to the standard rip fence. This curved guide method is a hybrid of the two techniques.

The advantage of the shop-made point fence and the aftermarket curved fence is that you can finetune the feed direction during the cut. This is necessary not only to compensate for lead or drift, but also because each board has a different density and may require a slightly different feed direction.

These fences also avoid the annoyance of having to check for drift and adjust the fence angle each time you change a blade.

See the image gallery for step-by-step resawing techniques.

Image gallery
1. Set up the fence. 2. Begin feeding the wood into the blade. 3. Steer the wood along the layout line. FInish the cut.
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Author info
Mark Duginske
Mark Duginske is a fourth generation central Wisconsin woodworker. He makes his living as a woodworker, designer, writer, and inventor. He was formally a contributing editor to Fine Woodworking Magazine and now writes for a number of magazines. His work has appeared in Fine Woodworking, Fine Home Building, The Design Book, Americana, Chicago Magazine, Architectural Digest, Architectural Record, Woodsmith, Wood Shop News and Wood News. His restoration work in the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio in Oak Park, Illinois has appeared on This Old House and the PBS Frank Lloyd Wright Special. He has 8 patents on woodworking tools and a number of patents pending. He is the author of 10 books. He has done two videos for the Taunton Press. more