Resawing is a woodworking technique for ripping boards from larger stock using a band saw. This type of cutting requires the use of a wider band saw blade than blades used for cutting curves, allowing for a flatter face cut of the veneer. Having a flat face straight out of the cut reduces the need for a jointer or surface planer to flatten the boards after the cut.
In many cases, band saws do not come equipped with an adjustable rip fence, which is an absolute requirement for resawing. Aftermarket fences with micro-adjustments are ideal for resawing, particularly for resawing thin veneers. Once you have a fence installed on your band saw, the first requirement for resawing is to adjust the fence so that it is perfectly parallel to the blade. This can most easily be done by aligning the fence with the miter slot on the table.
Second, in most cases, the height of the fence isn’t tall enough to support resawing. Clamping a wide, straight piece of hardwood to your fence will typically provide the vertical support needed to keep the board vertical during the resawing process.
Next, as mentioned earlier, you’ll need a wider blade than is normally used for cutting curves. Typical resaw blades are at least 1/2-inch wide with a thin kerf to reduce sawdust and around three TPI (teeth per inch) with deep gullets for removing the sawdust that is created during resawing. If the gullets aren’t deep enough and sawdust is allowed to build up, unsightly burning of the board faces can occur when making your cuts.
Additionally, if your blade is not sharp, burning can also occur and mar the faces of the veneers, not to mention that you’ll have to push harder to move the wood through the cut. As with nearly every case in woodworking, a sharp tool is actually safer than a dull one.
Because resawing creates so much sawdust, your band saw will run far smoother if you attach a high volume dust collection system or portable woodshop vacuum to the dust collection port on your band saw. If sawdust collects within the base cabinet, the band saw’s motor will need to work harder to keep up with the extra drag being placed on the blade and wheels.
When resawing with a band saw, there are two schools of thought as to what face of the board should be placed against the fence. One school of thought is to treat resawing much like cutting with a table saw, where the fence is placed the precise distance from the blade matching the desired thickness of the cut, with the remainder of the cutoff on the opposite side of the blade from the fence. The drawback to this method is that the cutoff section can be pushed against the blade, which can cause the blade to bind and burn the wood.
The more common, and likely safer method is to position the majority of the stock against the face of the fence, leaving the section of veneer being cut off to fall away from the right side of the band saw blade. The drawback to this method is that when pushing the board through the blade, your fingers will be closer to the blade with a thinner piece of stock between the blade and the edge where your hand will be. However, using a push pad against the board to keep your hands away from the blade will help to solve this problem.
Also, you may find it a little more difficult to measure the correct thickness of the cut using this method, but the results should be a smoother and more even, clean cut. In either case, should the cut not be as smooth as required after resawing, you may wish to run the board through a jointer or a surface planer to smooth out the cut face of the board. This is particularly a good idea when you are cutting a number of thin veneers out of a single board. Planing the face of the stock after each veneer is removed will allow for consistent, clean cuts of subsequent sections of the veneer.
From a safety standpoint, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. First of all, be careful that you don’t overfeed your blade. Trying to push the board through the blade too quickly will bog down the motor and cause a rougher cut, but pushing too slowly may burn the board faces. With a little practice, you’ll find a happy medium.
Additionally, if you’re resawing longboards, place an outfeed roller about a foot past the far edge of the band saw table to support the stock after the cut. This will allow you to focus on forwarding motion through the cut rather than on holding the stock onto the table.