Resawing on a Bandsaw Mill

It's tricky, but doable. May 14, 2006

I've got a lot of kiln dried 4/4 maple. I've got a buyer who wants all different widths of thinner boards - 1/8" and 1/4" - a few thousand sq. ft. worth. I've got some bandmill guys near me and I was thinking of approaching one of them to see if they'd slice up my boards. I know you bandmill guys have dogs that hold the logs, and will also clamp a board, but can you resaw boards this way? How low can your blade go? Is this viable, or a real pain to do?

Forum Responses
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
From contributor A:
Most bandmills can clamp and saw down to 1" from the bed. It's easy enough to saw thicker stock (like 8/4) down to that 1" limit but beyond that is a pain. Most of the time, KD lumber is not square or flat and can be a challenge to clamp securely. Figure on needing a healthy overrun of rough stock to compensate for losses due to the resawing procedure on out of square lumber.

From contributor B:
Find a pallet mill with a band resaw. Most of them will cut down to 3/8" and the feed rate will be 80' to 100' per min.

From Gene Wengert, Sawing and Drying Forum technical advisor:
Is the lumber green or KD? If green, then a pallet mill will work. If KD, with stresses and warp it will be tough to do, but a linebar will do the best.

From contributor C:
I built my own deck with resawing in mind, but 4/4 is tough. I can get 3/8 from the deck, but when you start with 4/4 and take out 1/8" kerf you aren't getting many. Also, as stated, the lumber is probably not flat. It may look so, but the saw will tell for sure. I have resawn some 4/4 with success for my own use when I needed a single 1/4" and was willing to risk most of the rest and hope to save it with the planer and have a 1/2" piece left. But most of the time I just make a mess of things, due to warp, cup, or twist in the stock I was trying to resaw. Thicker is better for a bandmill.

From the original questioner:
It's kiln dry to 6% - Maple, birch, and elm. H&M planed to 15/16.

From contributor C:
Another thing I didn't mention, you are going to pay $.25-$.35 per board foot to have it sawn around here or $30-$40 hr, whichever is agreed on. I consider any cut a board foot, meaning if I saw any smaller that 4/4 it is the same cost per cut. Itís the same wear and tear on the saw, same fuel, and the same time. If a guy wants a log sawn 1/2" thick he is paying twice for the sawing as 4/4. I can only assume it is the same where you are. I don't know what money you have in the 4/4, but sawn, kiln dried and planed you would have to already have a little something in it. I would try to market it as is. Unless the thin stock is worth a lot to the buyer, I don't see the extra sawing paying off in this case given everything mentioned.

From contributor D:
There is a machine made for this but I can't recall the name of it. Call millworks in your area and see if one of them can do it.

From the original questioner:
To contributor C: Basically what you are saying is, once you start sawing less that 4/4, you start calculating on square ft., rather than board. ft. Itís the same thing around here. My sawyer saws for 12 cents/bd.ft, so it's pretty reasonable, and yes, my buyer is paying plenty for the thin stock. But it doesn't look like these bandsaw mills can slice up 4/4 stock very effectively, which means my only option is to do it on my vertical bandsaw, or find someone with a stand-alone resaw, which is expensive. On my vertical bandsaw I can get five 1/8" slices from a 4/4 board. My local mill with a resaw, gets only 3, and he charges 50 cents/sq.ft. to slice.

From contributor E:
Depending on how much you have and whether this is a one time situation or ongoing, you may want to consider adding a power feeder to your own bandsaw. Grizzly has a 1/4 HP bandsaw powerfeed for $575. Even if you do only need it once, you could probably e-bay it for $300 or so. It is unlikely that you would get the same number boards as you do hand feeding, but could possibly get more than the person with the resaw.

If you do want to pursue a bandmill option, a poster previously posed a method where he uses a laminate covered counter top clamped in his mill. He sets the blade xxx above the top of the counter and leaves the head stationary. Then he pushes the boards past the band blade, similar to a horizontal resaw. You would probably get no more than 4 pieces/board due to the kerf, maybe back to 3.

No matter what method you use, this is still going to take a good amount of time. You indicated ~2000/bf. Assuming 8" wide boards (best case) that is 3000 linear feet. Slicing each board 3 times is 9000 linear feet. (4 times is 12000 feet...over 2 miles!) If you can get 10fpm cut rate that is still 900 minutes or 15 hours. That doesn't include time for clamping/stacking/coffee/etc. You should consider that my estimate is probably significantly low. Not trying to discourage you at all, just wanting to make sure that your buyer really does pay what this job is worth.

From contributor F:
Woodmizer makes a resaw attachment to sit on the bed of their saws. It has power feed and hold down rollers. This helps keep the board feeding at the proper height. Call woodmizer and they may be able to connect you to someone in your area that has this resaw. This is a continuous feed system and you can control the feed rate easily. Feed rate will depend on the power of the mill, but I would think 30 to 50 fpm is easily done on 8" stock.

From contributor G:
I previously posted the solution that contributor E is referring to. This is my resaw for my WM. I can split about 80 8' boards an hour with help. I can split from 1/8 off the resaw on up. I even put down a tapered board to make beveled siding. It is a good planed 2 x 10 x 12 with a 1 x 4 screwed to the back and clamped to the deck. It has finger boards to keep the board to be split held down in front of the blade. Head is chained to the axle and there is a slot in the 1 x 4 for the blade to drop into. Poor people have poor ways. A WM 4 degree blade is best for splitting KD hardwood lumber - other then that I just use a 10 degree. I just charge by the hour and it goes pretty quick with help.