Efficient cutting parallel to bark

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When cutting for grade, what is the most material-efficient method? Illustrated. April 2, 2002

What is the most efficient cutting pattern when sawing parallel to the bark when cutting for grade? I see myself ending up with long stakes, or maybe a rhombus. Do you cut down until you lose grade then turn and repeat, and then square off the remainder?

Forum Responses
Yes, you do get a tapered section after the high grade is removed. Then square this up. The taper is therefore taken out of low grade rather than high grade lumber.

Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor

From contributor L:
With my mill I don't like to taper saw. The smaller logs I get usually have one or more bad faces, so I open on one of the bad faces and when I flip the cant I am sawing parallel to the bark on a good or better face than where I opened. If the log has 3 or 4 good faces and is decent size, I go ahead and taper saw.

Contributor L has the right idea. Sawing parallel to the bark is only done on higher quality faces. Also, by starting on the poorer face without taper, the opposite side is automatically parallel to the bark. This is the technique mentioned in the sawyer's video "From the Sawyer's Perspective". (Contact Dr. Scott Bowe, 1630 linden Drive, Forestry, Univ of Wis, Madison WI 53706 for more info.)

Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor

Contributor L, what would "decent size" be in your eyes?

From contributor L:
Anything over 15" is a decent sized log to me and I love the 18 to 20 inch logs. My mill is manual, so the bigger logs get to be too much work, but that is going to change.

Below is a picture. This is a little 14" ash log. I knew that I had one bad face with a couple of knots and one excellent face 180 degrees apart. I wasn't sure about the third and fourth face. I opened on the worst face and took a heavy slab cut and a #2 board. Rotated 180 degrees to my best face and took 2 nice FAS boards off. At this point I had another decision to make. I could get 1 more #1c off my second face but I would have dropped the cant thickness under 6 inches for face 3 and 4 and would have lost one grade there. Since I had two faces opened up I could see that on face 4 (the face that is down in the picture) the FAS was going to hold up almost to the heart. I decided to turn the cant and face 3 is up. Got a FAS there and a 1c. Cut almost to the pith and turned to face 4. Got 3 FAS boards there.

Dr. Gene, how do you like that centered heart and the 180 degrees? You converted me even though I was very skeptical. Have never looked back at the 90-degree rotation.

I like to use 13" or 15" for the important size difference.

Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor

I always saw with the best face down and get the taper off the bad face. If the log is really good I taper cut it and square up when I get to 2C. The grade oak place will take tapered boards and measure the width at the narrow end so I do not have to edge. It can up your FAS count.