welcome to my blog

designing and building with wood channels my creativity and challenges my mind.
This blog is a record of my life in my studio.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Re-Saw Magic

By replacing the motor, I can re-saw 12" of maple
The band saw is regarded by many woodworkers as "the most important saw in the shop", due in no small part its unique capabilities.  Band saws can cut curves - unlike a table saw, chop saw, or hand saw - and with a thinner kerf than a router, and with no need for a special fence or guides.  Band saws can also perform the initial milling of raw timber: turning a tree trunk into boards.  And band saws can "re-saw".

Re-sawing is splitting a board in two...the hard way.  Take a look at the picture on the left and you'll see what I mean.  What you see in that pic is a piece of 3" thick hard curly maple, standing on edge roughly 12" high, and 20" long.  You also see a re-sawed slice.  The slice is 1/16" thick, and was peeled off of the block of maple on my band saw.

Unlike a table saw's disc-shaped blade, a band saw blade is a giant hoop, drawn tight between two cast-iron wheels.  And unlike a basic, 10" table saw blade, which can get bogged down trying to cut through 3" of hard maple, even a small band saw can easily go through 6" or 7" of the same hardwood.

My own band saw - a gift from a friend - is a very basic Delta model from 1991.  It has a 14" throat capacity (that's the distance between the blade and the back arm of the saw), and roughly 20" of vertical capacity, thanks to a riser block that was installed by the previous owner.
The thinnest sheet is 1/16" thick.

When I first used the saw, it had trouble cutting through 3" of maple.  Its motor offered up a mere 1/2 HP, barely enough for the most menial sawing tasks.  I replaced the stock motor with a 1 HP motor I had lying around the shop, and now my little 14" band saw performs like a champ.

But I wasn't expecting to be able to cut through 12" of hard maple.  that much wood would make my 5 HP table saw choke, if the blade were big enough to reach through all that.  When I fired up the new motor on my band saw, and began feeding the maple into the blade, I was amazed at how easy it was to slice off thin sheets of wood.

I didn't find I needed any kind of fence to keep the blade on track, and I got down to peeling off 1/16" thick sheets.  Wow!  I'm sure that as I get better at controlling the workpiece, I'll be able to cut even thinner slices.

No comments:

Post a Comment