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Appropriate Bandsaw for Resawing 4x4 Lumber

3403 Views 31 Replies 18 Participants Last post by  xedos
I'm making cabinets for my house and I've been looking into ways to save some money, and milling my own stock for the face frames and panels is what I am looking into currently. I have a jointer and planer, but I do not have a bandsaw. What I am thinking about doing is getting pine 4×4s from a local lumberyard and cutting it into 4 strips, then milling it each to about .75 inches thick. I choose 4×4s because I can get them relatively cheap and I need pieces that are at least 2.5 inches wide.

Now, my question is what bandsaw would work for what I want to do without breaking the bank? My main concern with just picking up any old bandsaw from the big box stores is that 1) the motor will burn out or stall and 2) how long it will take to make the cuts. My time is also valuable and I don't want to spend a crazy amount of time to get the cuts made.

I was looking at this saw, it has good reviews, but I cannot find any reviewers who are doing quite what I plan on doing.

I also have read the blade matters, so I would also need to get something other than the stock blade that comes with the machine.

Any insight would be greatly appreciated!
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You should be able to get four 3/4 slices with a ts and standard blade with 1/8" to spare. Nearer to 1/4 if you use a tk blade. You'll have to cut from both edges, but its doable.

You can't get a 5th 3/4 slab out of 3-1/2 stock even with zero kerf so use the tool you have. Lots of smaller bandsaw only go 3" so a 4×4 is just out of reach.

Bandsaw cut faces may need truing depending on your fence and feeding skills. This can lead to valleys in the faces after planing if your hand & eye aren't steady.

Are you going to rip to 2-1/2 on the bandsaw? You might need a lot of jointing to get things right. TS is better for long rips than band saw. You can get a glue line edge right off the ts, on the bs, not so much.

Pine is really soft for cabinets and will tend to show dings and dents over time. Screw retention may be iffy on high use hinges. Knob and pull areas are prone to denting and marking.

Cost difference between pine and reasonable hardwood may be less than you think. If you were planning on staining the pine that step could be completely eliminated by using appropriate hardwood. This can reduce the final cost of real hardwood.

Finally, the tripling of lumber prices in the past year have been primarily for construction softwoods and to a lesser effect hardwoods, again reducing the price spread.
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You need a 14 inch bandsaw with a 1 horse power motor minimum, to do what you want to do. That is still going to be slow going. I know because I have done it. Also pine is messy full of pitch which will gum up your blade and cause burn marks. And the burn marks may not go away by planing. Also you will find that pine has pitch pockets and voids.

I went to a 18 inch bandsaw with a 2 horse power motor, and I try to avoid resawing pine.
I wouldn't waste your time on it. 4×4's are not worth cutting into face frame stock. If they were, the mill would have done it.
I wouldn t waste your time on it. 4×4 s are not worth cutting into face frame stock. If they were, the mill would have done it.

- ibewjon
Yep, this ^. Unless you are going for a knotty rustic look. Even then 4×4s are probably "white wood" or SPF, depending on where you live so may not even all be pine.
I also think it's a bad idea. Most 4×4 s have the pith or center of the tree it's the most unruly part of the tree.
If I wanted knotty and rustic, I would buy knotty pine stock. It is cut from better stock and won't turn into a pretzel.
Pine is really soft for cabinets and will tend to show dings and dents over time. Screw retention may be iffy on high use hinges. Knob and pull areas are prone to denting and marking.

Cost difference between pine and reasonable hardwood may be less than you think. If you were planning on staining the pine that step could be completely eliminated by using appropriate hardwood. This can reduce the final cost of real hardwood.

Finally, the tripling of lumber prices in the past year have been primarily for construction softwoods and to a lesser effect hardwoods, again reducing the price spread.

- Madmark2
What hardwood would you suggest for the cabinet frames/panels? The boxes are going to be MDF because I want to paint them. I have been testing a method where you apply Shellac to the MDF before the paint and it prevents it from absorbing the paint.

I wouldn t waste your time on it. 4×4 s are not worth cutting into face frame stock. If they were, the mill would have done it.

- ibewjon

Yep, this ^. Unless you are going for a knotty rustic look. Even then 4×4s are probably "white wood" or SPF, depending on where you live so may not even all be pine.

- SMP
I wanted to get a smooth finish for paint grade cabinets. The ones we have are particle board with vinyl so they cannot be painted.

I also think it's a bad idea. Most 4×4 s have the pith or center of the tree it's the most unruly part of the tree.

- Aj2
I did not know that. I was just going off of the volume of wood for the price when I landed on 4×4s. The math worked out that if I used those over premium or select it would be over 50% in savings. But I don't want to end up with junk cabinets just to save a buck.
What hardwood would you suggest for the cabinet frames/panels? The boxes are going to be MDF because I want to paint them.

popular :<)))
100% agree with the comments about construction pine 4×4's being "junk" for resizing. The pith in the center virtually guarantees the cutoffs will severely twist and warp. A better approach would be poplar, very inexpensive and much better for paint (plus it probably would negate the need for a BS)
Try at least poplar for paint grade work.

MDF will melt the first time it gets wet. Even cheap ply is a step up. Shellac, paint, etc will slow, but not stop, the melt. Uneven finish absorption may itself contribute to MDF swelling.

There is a reason 4×4 is cheaper than 4 pieces of 1×4. It is lower grade wood.

Try pricing 1×6 stock. If you're ripping to 2-1/2" you'll have higher yield (95%) from a 1×6 - 2×2-1/2" = 5" + 2 kerfs from a 1×6 with only a 1/4" leftover.

If you rip 1×4's to 2-1/2" you're wasting a full inch per piece or ~30%!

Volumetric sizing (counting cubic inches) is not the correct path to minimizing cost or maximizing yield. The "right" way has been determined by centuries of cabinet making and millwork. The 2-1/2" stile width didn't just fall from the sky, it was selected for overall efficiency of material use. Ditto for the majority of sizes in all the trades.

Don't be different for the sake of being different. If you cheap out, you'll get a cheap & shoddy job. Don't go for "least quality", go for "standard practice". Remember: "There are no shortcuts to quality".
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That bandsaw will not do what you want. You need as a minimum a 14 inch saw. That saw will be woefully under powered for resawing. The problem with smaller saw is that you can't tension a 1/2" resaw blade enough to get a decent cut and the shorter blade builds up too much heat. Then onto the problem with 4×4's, most of them have the pith and that will give you really wonky lumber once you mill it out, the warpage, waste and time spent will not be worth it.
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I took a scrap piece of 4×4 (I think Douglas fir) and cut in on the table saw then cleaned it up on the jointer and planer. That worked a lot better than I expected.

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Try at least poplar for paint grade work.

MDF will melt the first time it gets wet. Even cheap ply is a step up. Shellac, paint, etc will slow, but not stop, the melt. Uneven finish absorption may itself contribute to MDF swelling.

There is a reason 4×4 is cheaper than 4 pieces of 1×4. It is lower grade wood.

Try pricing 1×6 stock. If you re ripping to 2-1/2" you ll have higher yield (95%) from a 1×6 - 2×2-1/2" = 5" + 2 kerfs from a 1×6 with only a 1/4" leftover.

If you rip 1×4 s to 2-1/2" you re wasting a full inch per piece or ~30%!

Volumetric sizing (counting cubic inches) is not the correct path to minimizing cost or maximizing yield. The "right" way has been determined by centuries of cabinet making and millwork. The 2-1/2" stile width didn t just fall from the sky, it was selected for overall efficiency of material use. Ditto for the majority of sizes in all the trades.

Don t be different for the sake of being different. If you cheap out, you ll get a cheap & shoddy job. Don t go for "least quality", go for "standard practice". Remember: "There are no shortcuts to quality".

- Madmark2
I have searched high and low, but the only places that sell plywood near me have it for like $100 for a 4×8. MDF is about $20 for the same size. I can try calling a few other places that might sell it. What kind should I be looking for? I have also never experienced MDF melting before. My wife and I made her desk out of 1/2" MDF and it has held together perfectly for over a year.

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Desks don't get wet like kitchen/bath cabs do. Anything with a sink in it should NOT be made from MDF unless fully encased in laminate and even then the seams and edges are problematic.

You should be able to get three carcasses from two sheets of 1/2" ply. More if you use 1/4" for the backs.

Take a scrap of MDF and set a wet glass down on it. Leave a block outside in the rain. Even just outside on the covered porch out of the rain and it'll swell and shed crumbs.

Google MDF SWELLING, click on IMAGES and see for yourself.
I'm surprised that no one included the cost of the bandsaw in the cost analysis. Yes, it can be used for other tasks, but the investment becomes part of the expense of the plan as proposed.
I choose 4×4s because I can get them relatively cheap and I need pieces that are at least 2.5 inches wide.

- DarthPicard
The cheapest wood is a 2×2, then you start climbing into the 2×4 family. As you progress upward to 2×10, and 12 it is pretty consistently better grade of wood. 4×4's are a special cut, generally depends on what you are getting, as to if they are much higher than 2×4 or same as. Whenever they are close to a 2×4 you can expect the wood to be total crap the mill wasn't able to make into boards yielding more $$$$$$.

They aren't there to make you a better deal, they are there to convert trees to cash. Huge amounts of cash. Low priced wood, especially in the current market is trash, just a step ahead of the bark, and mulch that ends up in a bag.

If you want to hunt that bird, you would be best to find someone with a bandmill cutting actual hardwood, and see about drying your own, or taking the green after it has stickered and air dried a month or 2, to a place with a kiln, and get it dried there.
I also think it's a bad idea. Most 4×4 s have the pith or center of the tree it's the most unruly part of the tree.

- Aj2
I totally agree. I've used both poplar and soft maple for painted cabinets. Both work well, however poplar is softer. If you can't afford that, at least by kiln dried dimensional 1x's of some sort.

Don't make the cabs out of MDF. They paint well, but at the least the do not hold screws + are extremely heavy!

The best materials for boxes are melamine and plywood. Melamine is an excellent choice. Birch ply supplies are very spotty around me and the price is crazy. Melamine is economical, no painting.

1/4" MDF makes great panels.

No idea what you're painting experience is, but having built quite a few vanities and built ins, and having recently just finished a painted kitchen reface, I can tell you its a make or break proposition on the entire project and the only thing people will see.
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I also think it's a bad idea. Most 4×4 s have the pith or center of the tree it's the most unruly part of the tree.

- Aj2
I totally agree. I ve used both poplar and soft maple for painted cabinets. Both work well, however poplar is softer. If you can t afford that, at least by kiln dried dimensional 1x s of some sort.

Don t make the cabs out of MDF. They paint well, but at the least the do not hold screws + are extremely heavy!

The best materials for boxes are melamine and plywood. Melamine is an excellent choice. Birch ply supplies are very spotty around me and the price is crazy. Melamine is economical, no painting.

1/4" MDF makes great panels.

No idea what you re painting experience is, but having built quite a few vanities and built ins, and having recently just finished a painted kitchen reface, I can tell you its a make or break proposition on the entire project and the only thing people will see.

- Robert
I made a test cabinet with MDF and pine, and I didn't need to screw into the MDF ever because I used dados and glue.

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Weight isn't really a concern for me since I only need to move them to a different place in my house. And I think our current cabinets are melamine or particle board and it's got this fake wood print on it, which is why we're replacing them. I don't know if I really want to make them with the same material.

Would this work for the cabinet boxes? It's the most economical I've seen in months: https://www.homedepot.com/p/12mm-Sande-Plywood-1-2-in-Category-x-4-ft-x-8-ft-Actual-0-472-in-x-48-in-x-96-in-454532/203414055

My only hesitation is the last time I got 4×8 and didn't use it immediately it began to warp. It was pressed flat in my basement, aka the "shop", and it warped a ton. Getting just what I need for the day isn't really an option since I don't have a pickup truck and need to have my dad help transport them to my house.

UPDATE: I found someone trying to sell excess plywood from a construction job for $35 for each 4×8 sheet. It is 1/2" sheathing and 3 ply, I think that would work, correct?

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UPDATE: I found someone trying to sell excess plywood from a construction job for $35 for each 4×8 sheet. It is 1/2" and 3 ply, I think that would work, correct?
- DarthPicard
3-ply plywood is a very poor panel; only good for rough construction use, not for cabinets. You can get a 4×8 sheet of 1/2" birch plywood at Lowes for $58. It will have 5 ply because it is American made and comes in 4×8 sheets. Real birch plywood comes from the Baltics as 5'x5' sheets and of metric thickness. It is also much more expensive. Baltic birch is the best for cabinets as it is stable and will remain flat unlike plywoods made in the U.S. or from other countries. If you can find "Arauco pine" plywood, it is a very good panel for cabinets; 7-ply, stable, reasonably priced at about $22 a sheet.
If you can find "Arauco pine" plywood, it is a very good panel for cabinets; 7-ply, stable, reasonably priced at about $22 a sheet.

- MrRon
Now that is something I can get behind. There are a few distributors near me, I am going to call them now.

UPDATE: They only sell to companies, not the public. I see it on Lowes and Home Depot, but they are out of stock or not being sold anymore.
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