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Suggestions for splitting back wood


C.B.Fiddler
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I have recently undertaken an apprenticeship with my violin maker. After 10 years of riding him, he finally relented and now I have a wonderful opportunity to fullfill a life long dream.

He and I recently visited his wood source and came across some of the most beautiful slab cut aged Maple. Here's the problem: I have three 4 ft x 9 inch x 1 3/4 inch boards of this spectacular wood. My issue is that I need to have the boards split lengthwise - effectively creating six 4 ft x 9 inch x 7/8 inch boards.

The issue is that I do not have a saw that can effectively "split" this wood. I have contacted cabinet makers around town that don't want anything to do with such a menial task. My next step would be to hand saw it (yuck!) or run it top and bottom through my table saw and hand saw the remaining "middle."

I could get 12 -14 backs out of this wood by accomplishing this - I would hate to waste it or botch it up using inappropriate methods.

Any suggestions? (I do not have the funds to purchase an appropriate band saw.)

Thank you,

Chris

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Check with the local woodworking tool/supply store (i.e. if you have a Woodcraft nearby), they may know someone willing to take this on - but be sure they know what they're doing, this is not a bandsaw task just anyone executes well the first time.

The tablesaw idea seems sensible, particularly if you have a suitable blade with a relatively narrow kerf.

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I suggest you ask around for someone who has a portable band saw mill. This type of work is much better suited to one of those than to a shop band saw. Another alternative is to cut off a single piece and handsaw it. Doesn't take long with a good rip saw. You don't need to split them all at once and this way will minimize the effects of any mishaps.

Lyle

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If you dont mind a little handsawing, ive done this. My tablesaw(small size ,maximum 3" depth of cut) only has around a 10" blade in it and my bandsaw only has a cutting height of 150 mm , i cut the timber into lengths that are big enough for instruments. I then cut down the middle from either side using the table saw,which left a couple of inches in the middle. Then i used a japanese rip saw or normal handsaw to cut through the remainder,joining up the two saw cuts left from the tablesaw..

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When you guys first started recommending he saw it by hand, here's how I saw it going:

First, buy yourself a copy of George Sturt's "The Wheelwright's Shop", then read the first few chapters where he discusses obtaining, seasoning, and sawing wood. Close your eyes and soak in the fact that the sawyers he was talking about using manpower and handsaws to cut up entire trees, from solid trunks down to the individual timbers. Then pull out your ripsaw, put on some good music, relax, and start sawing. :-)

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Hi C.B.Fiddler,

quote:


My next step would be to hand saw it (yuck!) or run it top and bottom through my table saw and hand saw the remaining "middle."
quote:


You would have to be very careful using your table saw without any guards. There is the danger of kick-back, slipping and ruining the wood. The best idea is use a hand saw. It might give you one or two blisters but think of the excersise it will give you!

Cheers Wolfjk

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Yeah, the table saw already schooled me on cutting pieces of wood that are to small for it. It was similar to hunting mosquitos with a bazooka. A nice little knock to the head with an ice cube sized piece of maple will reinvigorate your respect for such tools.

I have one more (hopefully friendly) lead to a cabinet maker that my father-in-law is associated with. Past that, I will get ready for some blisters!

Question B is related to cutting ribs from the same stock - I hope that cabinet maker is a gracious fella!

Thank you very much for your insight.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Well, I found a friend of a friend that has a pretty good workshop in his home and we clicked pretty well. He's absolutely fascinated with helping me prepare this back wood and the ribs. He has a Delta band saw with a 14" throat, and he and I went to Woodcraft the other day and bought two re saw blades. I had a gig that afternoon, so I had to leave it with him. I'm a little nervous but this guy is an engineer - I hope that bodes well for me!

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I use the woodslicer blade for resaw, and I do a good bit of it, I saw all my backs out from a log. with wood this valueable, it is well worth the effort to have the best blade, available. After I set up my saw it has essentially zero drift.

I happened upon the idea of making the fence parallel to the blade, rather than perpendicular to the table.For resaw work, makes a BIG difference. even if the blade is square to the table, it's still impossible to hold the piece perfectly square tp the table, . but it's a cinch to hold it flat against the fence. for a piece of wood this size I wood make a fence from a flat 2"x6" .

I would also plane the surface of the work flat before I cut.

Do you have ball bearing guides? The blade should run with ANY friction sounds. Test the set-up for drift with a free 1"x4", cutting free hand, then cut a 2"mm slice against your fence. let the blade eat the wood , don't "push "it. If there is zero drift you are ready to cut.

Good luck

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Thank you FiddleFaddle,

That is good info - although I fear he has already done the deed (at least in part.) He used a either a 3/4" or a 1/2" skip tooth resaw blade (we bought both at @ $27 each) and purchased a very nice fence with bearing attachment. I just hope the blade is as good as the one you suggested. I'd hate to see this beautiful wood wasted!

Thanks again,

Chris

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