Equipment to Rip Flooring Blanks

What's best, a straight-line or gang saw? Gang comes out ahead in this long discussion. October 2, 2005

I own a Logosol 260 and I would like to know the best way to make true blanks for flooring. Straight line or gang rip saw?

Forum Responses
(Solid Wood Machining Forum)
From contributor C:
If you are talking about strip flooring, a gang rip is the only way to go. When you put blades on a gang using spacers, the dimension is exact from one end of the strip to the other. You can not rip a 12 or 16 ft. board on a straight line with total control of width. You will get variations in width that will require you to rip 1/8" or so over so you get cleanup on the side matcher.

From contributor M:
If you are ripping for a Logosol, I will assume you are a small custom shop, as I am. You will be better served with a SLR than a gang saw. To better utilize the lumber for max yield, ripping to random widths is better. It is a cheaper machine to buy and maintain and will be a smaller machine requiring less electricity, and less blade maintenance costs. As I saw my own material for my shop, I never run anything over 12 foot, and most material is 8 foot long, so the ability to hold the dimension is not a problem, even on the old Diehl 750 wreck that I use.

From contributor C:
Flooring is not random width. It may be more than one width; plank, standard, etc., but it can not be random.

The worst guide on any rip saw ever made in the US is the guide on a Diehl rip saw. You can bump it with a board and see it move. With a Diehl, you have to have 1/8" moulder allowance and that is a minimum. For long boards, you probably would end up with 1/8" to the side.

It is true that a gang is more maintenance, takes more HP, etc., but it gives you a lot of advantages not obtainable by any other means. One of the big advantages is dead nuts accuracy. Granted, it is a big step for a small operator, but we have to assume that a person who asks which way to go can scrape up the money to go either way. Go gang.

By the way, don't go for one of those cheap gang saws. They will kill you. Go MJ or Newman or PSI. Be sure the anti-kickbacks are in good shape. Used machinery in the SE furniture belt is sitting on the street corner, almost, to buy for practically nothing. There is no need to buy cheap gang rip saws when there are so many first class brand names begging for a home.

From contributor M:
Yes, flooring is random, both installed and the way it can be produced. A small operator, especially, can make blanks in whatever sizes best yield from the lumber being ripped. Typically, 2 1/4, 3 1/4, 4 1/4 will all come from random width, rough lumber and give better yield to the shop, and a more interesting floor. Obviously, when selling a random width floor, you will have to give enough of each dimension to be sure each run can be completed. The pattern sold can be 2 3 4 repeating or randomly alternating, 2 4 3 2 4 2, etc. A gang rip would be a poor choice for a small custom floor shop. You might be right about the old Diehl fence - I wouldn't know, as mine has been replaced with a non-stock fence.

From contributor C:
Random in a flooring mill and random in a furniture factory are two different things and I slipped into the furniture definition. A good way to get the various widths you mention is to put all of them on an arbor. Line up lasers or shadow lines with the saws, put the board under the lines and look at the pattern on the board, shift the board right or left to get the best yield and rip it. That will give you yield, exact widths and all of the other good stuff with very little expense beyond the cost of the saw itself. 10 lasers will cost you $10,000 plus a stand and the wiring. An old Carter guide line light can be had for a fraction of that and a clever person can build one themselves. Whether that is the way the questioner should go or not is up to him, but he asked which way is the best and a gang is the best for the above reasons.

All production flooring is made on a gang for the above reasons. Although a small operator can't spend the same money the big guys spend, there are lessons to be learned from the big guys that we all can use. The big disadvantage to a gang in the small shop is setup time. If you are going to make things in ones and twos, it takes too long to build an arbor. But there is no reason that you can't put one blade on a dip bed gang and use it as a straight line when you are running odds and ends.

From contributor M:
I appreciate that. I think that the small niche market custom shop with the little 4 head moulder is a very different animal than the big production factory. My biggest objection to the gang rip is that you do not make flooring blanks with grading in mind as you go, just stuff it in the saw and get what you get. My shop is creating a premium product, more thoughtfully made than that. Your points are well taken, though.

From contributor J:
We have a twin rip from Northteck. It works wonderfully for flooring blanks. As the boards come off the double sided planer (hit or miss to 15/16"), they get sorted in sizes. Just set the size you want to rip and let 'er rip! A laser is great lined up with the inside blade, but if you get creative with your infeed table, you don't need one. You will be glad to have one, though. It's great! 2 blades,1 pass. No spacers for adjusting. Line the laser up with the inside blade. The outside blade moves via crank handle, I believe, up to 9 1/4". I don't know how we made money with the jointer and tablesaw.

From contributor G:
I have to agree with contributor M on this one. If the questioner has a Logosol, a gang rip is overkill in accuracy, volume potential and money spent. I have a new six head moulder and can't justify a gang rip. Some day, yes, but for now, my not-so-old Deihl does a great job. The fence doesn't move very easily if bumped, either.