Re-sawing for thinner boards

The most common thickness of rough lumber is 4/4 (four quarters of an inch) and is meant to be planed down to 3/4″ prior to use.  What if you need lots of 1/2″ boards for a project?  It sometimes doesn’t occur to us to buy much thicker lumber than we want to end up with and re-saw it down to a more suitable size.  

I plan on putting headers above all my doors like this one in the library closet and almost all of those pieces are 1/2″ thick.  To me it seems like too much of a waste of wood to buy 1″ lumber and plane half of it away….not to mention the bags of saw dust that would create.

Solution: I bought 6/4 (1-1/2″ thick) boards with the idea they could be re-sawn into 3/4″ rough pieces and then planed to 1/2″ thick.

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Finished Door!

I was too busy working to stop and take a picture of the boards before I started dimensioning them….but they were rough.  As in they had saw marks on all 4 sides and looked very furry.

To start with I put a Straight-Line on one edge, then planed one side of the lumber.  This way I would have flat surfaces to cut off of when I cut the wood to width, then when I turned it on it’s side to cut it to thickness.

A note on planing:  Some of these boards were very obviously cupped.  When you are planing a cupped board, you start on the convex side, taking small passes until you have flattened it out.

You can see in the picture below some of the boards have their rough edge showing, the board on the bottom has it’s straight edge showing.  When I cut them, I cut them planed side down, straight edge against the fence.

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One straight edge, one planed side. 

For my headers I need 3″ pieces for the back, 2″ pieces for the top and 1-1/4″ pieces.  I cut my boards into these widths, then set up to re-saw their thickness.  I always cut my boards about 1/4″ thicker than I need them in the end so I can edge plane them down to the final thickness.  This removes any saw marks and makes up for any mistakes while sawing.

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Ripping boards down to width.  

I have a 10″ table saw, which means I can raise my blade to around 3-1/2″ and saw boards that thick.  Anything thicker and you need to make two passes by turning the board over and sawing the other side.  Which is what I did for my slats on the bathroom cabinet door.  

My boards were roughly 1-1/2″ thick, so I set my blade centered on 3/4″ then raised it up until it was about 1/4″ above the wood.

You need to go significantly slower when you are sawing through this much wood at a time.  My saw actually stalls on me if I go to fast…I’ll take that over being in fear or it slipping to quickly through anything ;0).  It’s the motor, not the sharpness of the blade.

You can see in the first picture that my board is thicker on the left.  After cutting off the first board, I ran the thicker piece through also so they would be the same thickness when I started planing.  In some places it just shaved the wood, in others it took off an 1/8″ sliver.

That’s all there is to it!  Don’t forget to use your Push Stick and stand to the left of the blade if you are right handed.

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