Thursday, April 29, 2010

Notes for ripping your own logs with minimal setup

If you're like me you have a very small workshop and therefore must be extremely discriminate about what large tools you fill it with. I have finally developed a fairly reliable process for ripping logs found in neighbors' yards after they fell a tree for whatever reason using only one major power tool: the bandsaw.

You need:

14" bandsaw w/6" riser block (Or bigger. I use a Powermatic PWBS-14CS.)
Wood Slicer resaw blade (The biggest one that will fit on your bandsaw. I use 3/4".)
14" chainsaw (Or bigger)
Scrub plane
Jack plane
Jointer plane
  1. Square up the log as well as possible w/the chainsaw. Be very careful to get the surfaces as flat as you can manage, which is not easy w/a chainsaw. I set the logs on end on a sort of makeshift platform so I can cut all the way to the bottom w/out hitting concrete. Another key element here is to nail a scrap piece of wood to the bottom of the log like an arm, and then lay a bag of dirt, or some kind of dead weight, on the arm. This will keep the log from turning as you saw through w/the chainsaw, which creates a tremendous amount of torque.
  2. Once you get the kind-of squared up log into the shop, use the planes to flatten the flattest side of the log to the point where it will sit stably on the bandsaw's deck while you push it through.
  3. Tune your bandsaw to use the Wood Slicer, which is the most awesome bandsaw blade ever created. If properly tuned, it will cut through like butter. I mean really take your time here or you will be extremely pissed when your blade drifts diagonally into your log. Set the tension high and make sure you have enough clearance. Oil the bearings, whatever you need to do to make that bandsaw cut straight.
  4. Place the log flat side down on the bandsaw deck and rip as straight a line as you can. Repeat this process until you have four flat sides
  5. Now rip your well-squared log into rough boards.
  6. Dimension the boards w/your planes.
You might not need to do the whole chainsaw bit if you can come up w/some great log jig for your bandsaw. I haven't figured one out yet.

This may all sound easy, but it is extremely time consuming to flatten the faces, and the bandsaw ork requires a very good understanding of the bandsaw. Read up everything you can on compensating for drift and properly tuning the bandsaw or you will just waste a lot of potentially great wood.

Ripping found logs is fun, because it's usually really old growth hardwood, which can be ridiculously expensive to purchase, but one problem I keep running into is that the tree was usually cut down due to some kind of insect invasion. You might have to throw away several boards due to bore holes, but there will be some gems in there too.

3 comments:

skmckinn said...

How do I sew the wood into a dress?

The problem, of course, is the hem. It's the folding-over. And also, the turning-inside-out.

Digitizdat said...

Kate, you have got a seriously clear eye for style. I need some well tailored, stylish, yet not overstated pants. You have any idea how hard it is to find some really awesome men's pants? I make you sewing table, you make me pants. Wait, you haven't seen my actual handywork yet. Stand by for incredible work bench in about 1-2 months.

skmckinn said...

HELL. YES. Hook it up.

I'll start studying gussets. Never done one before.