Resawing boards by hand

Resawn walnut drawer fronts

I bought some 5/4″ walnut rough from the lumber yard. The stock needed to be resawn to produce 1/2″ thick drawer fronts for the dresser I am building. I looked online for resawing advise which can be summarised as follows:

  • Resawing by hand takes time and physical effort no matter what method is used. Resawing is an intensive task.
  • You can use a specialised frame saw like this one by the Renaissance Woodworker. To date, they cannot be bought, only made.
  • You can use a regular rip saw. This is what I did because I have one. It works.
  • Saws need to be sharpened before resawing. They are removing a great deal of material and it is hard on the saw.

I followed the advice given on this Saw Blog post and this YouTube video by Alex Mosher (not to mention multiple posts on the Close Grain blog). Here is my sequence of events:

  1. Sharpen the rip-saw.
  2. Mark a center like all the way around the board with a marking gauge.
  3. Use a backsaw to start a cut on each corner. I used a dovetail saw. A solid and straight start makes the remainder of the process a lot easier.
  4. With one end of the board up from the vise, using the rip saw, start at the far corner of the board and work back along the end of the board along the line until you reach the near corner.
  5. Re-angle the board so now you can saw from the near-end and down the side of the board.
  6. Flip the board every couple of inches and saw from the other side.
  7. Between sides I sometimes saw straight down to remove wast from in the middle of the board
  8. Near the end, flip the board over to expose the bottom and start the process again until the cut is complete.
  9. Admire the book-matched board.
  10. Have a shower.

I like to saw down almost to the bottom of the board before turning it and starting on the other end. I used to do both sides equally and meet in the middle, but the cut sometimes doesn’t match up and a lot of planing is then needed to flatten the boards out.

If the saw starts to bind, I insert some small wedges to open the kerf, as suggested in this Galoototron blog post. I guess another fix would be to widen the set of the saw teeth, but that would make sawing straight more difficult and cause a little more waste.

Quite some work to do by hand, but when the book-matched boards reveal themselves at the end, the effort is worth it.

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