Lots of tension in my mahogany!

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Blog entry by CharlieK posted 03-22-2017 10:13 PM 2428 reads 0 times favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch

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Recently I was ripping a piece of mahogany on my table saw and there was so much tension in the board that I couldn’t complete the cut. In fact, it was binding so tightly on the blade that I had to work to get the board off of the saw.

I haven’t experienced this kind of wood tension very often. What is your favorite way to deal with this kind of problem?


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14 comments so far

View johnstoneb's profile


3166 posts in 3150 days

#1 posted 03-22-2017 10:24 PM

drive a screwdriver in the kerf to widen it.

-- Bruce, Boise, ID

View Grumpymike's profile


2480 posts in 3292 days

#2 posted 03-23-2017 12:31 AM

I have some small wedges in my apron pocket just for that scenario. Watch the outfeed end and if the kerf starts to close up insert a wedge or two.

-- Grumpy old guy, and lookin' good Doin' it. ... Surprise Az.

View Mikesawdust's profile


330 posts in 4016 days

#3 posted 03-23-2017 08:44 AM

wedges definitely, I work with a lot of rough air dried lumber and have had it stop the blade. Of course once it’s cut it is going to need flattening again. I would let it sit for a day after flattening it to see if its settled or needs another flattening.

-- You never cut a piece to short, you are just prepping that piece for a future project

View ScottM's profile


753 posts in 3124 days

#4 posted 03-23-2017 11:49 AM

My question in return would be, what do you do with the wood after you manage to get it off the blade? In other words, is wood with that much tension good for anything?

View Bobsboxes's profile


1479 posts in 3641 days

#5 posted 03-23-2017 01:49 PM

I also drive a wedge or screwdriver in the saw kerf. I had a hundred feet of 4/4 hickory and it was loaded with tension. As I cut it, it would blow apart or pinch in. I reaiiy had to use it for some window trim, to far to go get more, so I ripped all the boards, let it sit for a couple of days, and them trimmed everything up. Installed it and it still looks good today.

-- Bob in Montana. Kindness is the Language the blind can see and deaf can hear. - Mark Twain

View CharlieK's profile


605 posts in 4770 days

#6 posted 03-23-2017 03:22 PM

You guys are great! I will definitely try using wedges sometime. That said, I think a bandsaw is probably a safer solution.

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View CharlieK's profile


605 posts in 4770 days

#7 posted 03-23-2017 03:26 PM

My question in return would be, what do you do with the wood after you manage to get it off the blade? In other words, is wood with that much tension good for anything?

- ScottM

Good question!! Ideally, I would scrap it, but sometimes you have to play the cards you are dealt. In this case I have a 17bf piece of mahogany and I just can’t bear to toss it out.

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View Rich's profile


6399 posts in 1566 days

#8 posted 03-23-2017 04:15 PM

My experience has been that the pieces are bowed after the cut. If they are wide enough, I can generally get a straight edge on them, and they hold their shape pretty well. Narrower cut-offs aren’t salvageable.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

View JimYoung's profile


399 posts in 2564 days

#9 posted 03-23-2017 04:41 PM

I have a Microjig splitter on my zero clearance insert. It has a secondary splitter that fits loosely in the insert and will actually be pulled out by the wood if it starts to close in from wood tension and hold the kerf open. It is a nice automatic feature and doesn’t require stopping or starting the cut. I don’t work for Microjig, I just like this product.

I have worked a little with Mahogany and have experienced similar internal tension when cutting and milling it. I’ve searched out and asked questions on this topic, and basically you need to expect this and deal with when milling this type of wood. I was resawing 4/4 to 1/2” and was able to alternate bowing boards in the glue up and weighed it down for a few days and it stayed flat.

-- -Jim, "Nothing says poor craftsmanship more than wrinkles in your duck tape"

View EarlS's profile


4224 posts in 3325 days

#10 posted 03-23-2017 05:39 PM

I also have the microjig splitter and it works great to keep the board from pinching the blade.

-- Earl "I'm a pessamist - generally that increases the chance that things will turn out better than expected"

View pintodeluxe's profile


6298 posts in 3790 days

#11 posted 03-23-2017 05:53 PM

If I encounter wood with tension, I rip it oversize. Then joint it again, before ripping to final width.
A little paste wax on the riving knife helps.

Also, make sure the core of the lumber has an appropriate moisture content. If it’s not kiln dried, that can magnify the problem.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View Patternguy's profile


66 posts in 1668 days

#12 posted 03-24-2017 02:08 AM

We used 20,000 board feet a year in a shop I once worked in and every so often you would get a board like that.
It would be thrown to the side of the rack until a suitable application was found for it.
Fortunately, we were able to just get another off the lumber rack.

We used to joke that the elephants probably pi#%ed on that tree.

View Mainiac Matt 's profile (online now)

Mainiac Matt

9773 posts in 3305 days

#13 posted 03-24-2017 05:49 PM

I wonder if it’s reaction wood.

If so, I will keep moving for some time.

-- Matt -- I yam what I yam and that's all what I yam

View PaGeorge's profile


22 posts in 1413 days

#14 posted 03-27-2017 03:22 AM

As a kid wood wedges were something everyone had when ripping,,sort of,in a way a fundamental part of using a table saw..I still use them to this day.

-- PaGeorge

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