Having your own arsenal of woodworking tools is really awesome, especially if you know what their uses are and how to use them. That said, there are many types of sawing to be familiar with. If you are just getting into the world of woodworking and carpentry, one term you might have heard is “resawing.”
If you don’t know what it means – or if you don’t know how to do it – you have come to the right place. In this article, I’ll dive into the details of this technique.
What is Resawing?
The technical definition of resawing is “the process of cutting the wood across the thickness and along the length to produce two thinner slabs of wood.”
In layman’s terms, resawing reduces the thickness of a board, while its width and length stay the same.
In terms of picturing this, imagine a 2 x 6 standing on its side, so that the 2-inch measurement is flat on the ground along the length of the lumber, with the 6-inch width of the board facing upwards vertically. To make a resaw cut, you would stand this board on its side and then cut along the length through the 6-inch width, which will effectively reduce the thickness of the board. So, if you resawed the board halfway through its thickness, if you started out with a single 2 x 6, you would end up with two 1 x 6 boards.
Resawing vs. Ripping: What’s the Difference?
Technically speaking, resawing is a type of rip cut. When you make a normal rip cut, you cut a piece of lumber along its length, effectively cutting down the width of the board. In other words, a rip cut involves the saw blade passing through large flat sides of the lumber. With a rip cut, the length and thickness of a board stay the same, while the width is reduced.
A resaw cut is technically a type of rip cut because it also involves sawing a piece of lumber along its length. However, a resaw cut, unlike a rip cut, involves cutting down the thickness of the board, instead of the width.
So, with a resaw cut, the blade passes through one side of the board to the other, slicing off thin sections along the length to reduce the overall thickness of it.
What Is the Best Tool for Resawing?
When it comes down to it, you have two tool choices to go with for resawing lumber. The two choices at your disposal are the bandsaw and the table saw. Bandsaws feature a long and thin blade that moves in a single and continuous direction. Here, the blade is literally one very long and serrated band. On the other hand, a table saw features a circular blade that protrudes up through a work table.
Generally speaking, the best tool for this application is the bandsaw, and this is true for two main reasons. First off, while table saws do work fine for resawing lumber, the blade can only protrude so high out of the table, usually no more than 2 or 3 inches, which means that table saws can only resaw lumber that is not very wide.
However, with a bandsaw, you can adjust the spacing between the arm and the table, or in other words, the length of the blade, to be much longer than with a table saw. With a bandsaw, you may be able to resaw lumber that is up to a foot wide, or even wider.
The other reason why the bandsaw is the better choice is because of the kerf of the blade. With a bandsaw, the kerf width is much narrower than with a table saw, which allows for thinner cuts that saw away less material, which is pretty important for resawing.
How to Resaw with a Bandsaw
Seeing as the bandsaw is the best tool to use for the job, let’s go step-by-step through the process of resawing wood with this tool.
For the purposes of this guide, we will be using a 2 x 6-inch board. That said, you can follow the exact same process with virtually any board.
Step 1: Measure
First off, you want to mark and measure your lumber that you plan on resawing. So, in this case, that is our 2 x 6 board. To keep things basic, here we will be making a 1-inch resaw cut which will turn a single 2 x 6 into two 1 x 6 boards.
As such, mark the line down the thickness of the board using the appropriate tools.
Step 2: Set the Fence and Prepare the Saw
The fence on your bandsaw will help you stay on track. This is what the lumber rests against as you move it through the blade. So, if you are resawing a 2 x 6 into two 1 x 6 boards, you would set the fence to 1 inch, as this is how much is being cut off the original piece.
Also, when you are adjusting the saw, make sure that you only expose enough of the blade to make the cut. So, if the board is 6 inches wide, set the blade to just over 6 inches – just wide enough for the lumber in question. Otherwise, you will risk damaging the blade and hurting yourself.
Also, make sure to use a thin kerf blade to make a cut as accurate as possible.
Step 3: Power Up the Saw and Cut
For resawing, turn on your bandsaw to a moderate speed (it doesn’t need to be too fast), and rest the lumber against the fence. The aim here is obviously to push that board through the bandsaw blade along its thickness, along the line you marked in the first step.
Slowly push the lumber through the blade while making sure to keep your fingers clear. It is recommended that you use a push stick to push the lumber through, instead of just your hands.
Once you push your board through completely, you are done with the process.
How to Resaw with a Table Saw
Although the bandsaw is the number one choice for resawing, using a table saw is possible, so let’s talk about how to do this as well.
The process is more or less the same as with a bandsaw.
Step 1: Measure
Mark a line down the thickness of the board using the appropriate tools. Measure how much of the lumber you want to saw off using this resaw cut, and make the appropriate markings.
Unlike with a bandsaw, you might want to mark both sides of the cut since you might have to flip the board to cut through it completely.
Step 2: Set the Fence and Blade Height
Just like you did with the bandsaw’s fence, you also need to set the table saw fence up properly. Going with our original example, this would mean setting the fence to make a 1-inch cut.
However, keep in mind that with a table saw, you won’t be able to resaw a board that is 6 inches wide easily, maybe 3 inches at the most (depending on the specific table saw). For anything more than that, you would need to flip the board around as mentioned in Step 1. That results in more complexity and less accurate results, though.
Either way, set the fence appropriately. Also, set the height of the blade as needed. If the lumber you are resawing is 2 inches wide, set the blade to just over 2 inches.
Step 3: Power Up the Saw and Cut
Now, turn on the table saw and let it get up to speed, then rest the lumber against the fence in order to allow the blade to cut along the thickness. Then, just like with the bandsaw, use a push stick to slowly but consistently feed the lumber through the blade.
Once you pass the entire board through the saw, you are done. That is unless you are resawing a wide board which will need another pass from the other side.
Mistakes to Avoid, Tips & Tricks
While the above should be enough to give you the basics, here are some additional tips and tricks that will help you make the process easier and safer:
- When resawing, always use a push stick as it is much safer for your fingers.
- Never work around any distractions when resawing. This is a type of cut that requires a lot of concentration.
- Never wear long sleeves or have loose long hair around these kinds of saws.
- Always wear appropriate eye protection when using any sort of saw.
- Resawing anything that is thinner than 1 inch is going to be a challenge and requires utmost care.
As you can see, both bandsaws and table saws are fine for resawing.
That said, the bandsaw is a much better choice as it can handle much wider lumber without too much complexity. Whichever choice you go with, always remember to take your time and take care when using power saws.