Occasional Table Class (Hand Tool Build) #19: Resawing by hand, and some further stock prep

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by RGtools posted 12-06-2011 04:04 PM 21742 reads 0 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 18: One step back to take two steps forward. Part 19 of Occasional Table Class (Hand Tool Build) series Part 20: Planing the legs to thickness (and width) »

I don’t recommend that you do a larger resaw for the top of your table. While doing this gives you the option to book-match figure, that invites two problems. One, the grain direction on a book matched table top reverses across the joint making the smoothing operation a more more careful process. Two, resawn stock always moves…no matter how dry it is, it is always more moist on the inside of a board than on the outside. As it equalizes it moves. This requires you to either re-saw your stock early in the project and let those components rest while you work on other parts (what I do), or to resaw, square and cut joints all in one day before the wood has a chance to move (a serious gamble and not a feasible option for a table top).

However the likelihood is you will have to resaw a board at some point (especially when you start building drawers). Since I ran into the need to do this for the stretchers in my desk (I only have the one slab of wood to work with) I think this is a good time to show you how to do it.

Careful layout is key to a good resaw, a deep scribe line and possibly a small knife cut along your layout line make a huge difference in starting your saw. If I am working with rough stock, or if I have to resaw a board other than in half this is what I do. If I am working with nearly dimensioned stock I can cheat a bit and use a marking guage to make a V groove for me (simply mark the center-line from both sides, the bevel of the gauge makes your V).

When starting a saw, use a light touch and a light angle to kerf in your work on the line, (an eighth inch groove is sufficient.) Do this from both side to make sure you don wander to much. Take you time. With you have a kerf around the initial part of your cut. You will use the heel of the saw mostly to do this. You can saw at an angle once this is done. Work at roughly a 45 degree angle to the work, and flip the work over often to ensure you don’t go astray. This should be more monotonous than exhausting, use a light touch, whistle, and let the saw work for you. If the work is long enough sit on it and finish the saw cut using an overhand grip. If it is shorter clamp it in a vise and finish it from the other side (I hate the hump this creates so I present an alternate solution in the video).

Always give yourself extra thickness to deal with warp after resawing…it’s a fact of life learn to cope with it.

As far as stock prep is concerned, I am starting (or re-starting) on the legs. Make your true faces the inside of the piece, they accept the joinery. Pick the two ugliest sides and make those flat. For a stock prep session like this what I like to do is get all of my true faces done for each leg and then use one setting on my marking gauge to plane to thickness and width on all the legs. This gives me very uniform looking stock as well as giving me the opportunity to modify my design a bit if the components need to come out slightly undersized do heavier than anticipated planing.

I should be able to post video of planing to thickness soon.

Have fun making a pile of shavings.

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

13 comments so far

View skeeter's profile


233 posts in 4117 days

#1 posted 12-06-2011 05:42 PM

im curious if you wet the wood on either side before you resawed it, if it would help with the moisture problem on the inside. kind of like veneering with hide glue. wetting both sides to keep the veneer from warping. Has anyone tried this?

-- My philosophy: Somewhere between Norm and Roy

View RGtools's profile


3372 posts in 3431 days

#2 posted 12-06-2011 07:03 PM

No. That’s an interesting idea though. I would like to hear from someone who has messed around with this option.

I typically just work with very dry stock and give resawn stock a week or two to figure out what shape it wants to be before I plane to thickness.

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

View Brit's profile


8079 posts in 3619 days

#3 posted 12-06-2011 09:34 PM

Once again you are teasing me with that lovely saw. :-)

I love the smell of Sapele, but it can be a challenge to plane and finish. Are you going to fill the grain? I don’t know what finish you have in mind RG, but I would strongly recommend going through your finishing process from start to finish on a test board. I built a garden gate out of Sapele which you can see in my projects. I filled the grain on the panels, but not on the frame and there is a stark difference as you can see in the photos. Obviously it doesn’t matter on a gate, but it wouldn’t look nice on a piece of furniture. It wouldn’t be a problem if you were using an oil finish, but varnishing without filling the grain will look awful.

Great blog. The highlight of my week.

-- Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3891 days

#4 posted 12-07-2011 12:30 AM

thank you RG :-)
goood blog

funny to see you flip the board as you saw thrugh it with this big handsaw
I know we do it when using framesaws but I have realy thought about this for some time
without coming up with the answer to …... it shuold be possible to resaw from one side only
with the same good result ….. but in the last 4 years on the net I havn´t seen
the right tecnic yet since they all have there drawbacks when using a handsaw
little werd since doing it on a bandsaw they allways looked good when you compare it
to a handsawn piece
have you thought about this .. if so …. have you any idea´s of where the big secret is hidden …. :-)
obvious a knowledge we have forgotten over the last 150 years

take care

View Bertha's profile


13588 posts in 3469 days

#5 posted 12-07-2011 12:39 AM

Resawing by hand? Calculate a galoot factor on that!

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View RGtools's profile


3372 posts in 3431 days

#6 posted 12-07-2011 03:18 AM

Andy, the first picture was purely for your benefit. I was thinking either oil or thin (very thin) shellac for the base, but you are right about doing a finish on a practice piece. That would be a very hard lesson to learn on wood so valuable.

Dennis, It;s true we have forgotten quite a bit. It’s nice to be part of re-discovery though. I have a frame saw that I use for most re-saws, but I felt like showing you can do it with a panel (I kind of liked it better to be honest…don’t tell my ECE)

Al….two points perhaps?

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

View Don W's profile

Don W

19621 posts in 3344 days

#7 posted 12-07-2011 03:42 AM

interesting. Think of the money we can save on gym memberships just by upping out galoot factor.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3891 days

#8 posted 12-07-2011 09:33 AM

naa …your ECE will first get blue and then purple if you get one of theese
to resaw with ..


View RGtools's profile


3372 posts in 3431 days

#9 posted 12-07-2011 03:47 PM

Nice. I really want one of those…but my wife already says I have a saw problem.

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

View Dave's profile


11435 posts in 3616 days

#10 posted 12-09-2011 06:28 AM

Very well written and detailed blog. I learned a few things. Thank you for your time and effort in your post. Sapele when finished has a 3d look to the grain that I love. Your project should come out wonderful.

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are."

View RGtools's profile


3372 posts in 3431 days

#11 posted 12-09-2011 03:45 PM

I’ve really been enjoying the way the color changes with the direction you take it in. Subtle change too.

Thanks for the kind words, I will keep the series going until were are done.

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

View BenR's profile


341 posts in 3404 days

#12 posted 12-12-2011 06:49 AM

RG, I saw your blog awhile ago in progress, but have not had time to catch up. Unfortunately, I have been ill with a winter bug. Fortunately, I have had the time to read the blog over the past few days. I find it very informative and interesting. I expecially liked the information and videos on hand planing. I find it difficult to do, much less master. As others have mentioned, most of the descriptions I have read make it seem so easy. You are doing a wonderful job with this, and I know it is a ton of time and work. Thank you. I will be following along for all of the great information and demonstrations. Now, if only I could find great used tools for $5.00.

-- Ben in Va

View RGtools's profile


3372 posts in 3431 days

#13 posted 12-12-2011 03:45 PM

You just have to keep your eyes open on the tools, screamin’ deals don’t come by very often but they do happen, and are generally worth the wait.

Sorry to hear that you have been ill (tis the season) but I am glad you are on the mend. Working with hand planes is a bit like riding a bike, it takes the right phrase and practice before you have that “Ah ha” moment. It’s not particularly difficult, it just requires you to be a little systematic. Keep at it and you get the skills you need.

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics