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How do I get 1/2 inch hardwood?

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Forum topic by livitup posted 01-25-2020 11:36 PM 1322 views 0 times favorited 31 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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livitup

2 posts in 29 days


01-25-2020 11:36 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

Hello everyone, Long time lurker first time poster. I’ve just made the leap from home center wood to lumber yard hardwoods. I got an incredible deal on a Rikon jointer/planer and I used it last weekend to successfully surface my first piece of rough lumber. That was a rush and I’m so happy with it.

So far I’ve only visited one lumber yard and they only sold wood 4/4 or thicker. That was fine for the project I’m working on now – building some picture frames. By the time I was done planing it flat it was just a smidge over my target of 3/4 inches. I ran it through the planer a couple extra times to get it right on 3/4 and was happy with the results.

For my next project I would like some 1/2 and 1/4 inch pieces. Trouble is, I’m not sure how to get them… :)

From my limited research, resawing lumber using a 10” band saw is a dicey proposition. And even if I was able to do it well, can I get a 1/4 inch and a 1/2 inch board from a single 4/4 piece of lumber? What’s the “usual” loss incurred in the resawing process? Should I get 5/4 or 6/4 lumber if I can find it?

I bristle at the thought of buying and planing 4/4 down to 1/2-inch… The thought of turning half my investment into chips makes me horrified.

I’m sure these are basic questions but I’m basically a toddler when it comes to this whole new world of woodworking. :) Thanks!


31 replies so far

View Think0075's profile

Think0075

29 posts in 362 days


#1 posted 01-26-2020 12:14 AM

If your gonna resaw i would suggest 5\4 to get 1\2” material. I can usually get 3 1 \4” pieces out of one 4 \4 stick.

Sometimes the lumber yard can resaw for you for a small fee. If not maybe look into cabinet\millworks shops in your area and perhaps they can do it for a small price.

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Andybb

2502 posts in 1240 days


#2 posted 01-26-2020 12:20 AM

Depending on how large you need them some lumber stores and Woodcraft and Rockler sell thinner panels.

If $ isn’t the issue spend $1K and buy a good 14” band saw and resaw them. With a good bandsaw the answer is maybe but it’s gonna be close you can get a 1/4 and a 1/2 but I’d plan on it being 3/8 or use a 5/4 board to start with. But you have to use them or sticker them tightly as soon as you resaw them because they will warp then you’ll have to joint and plane them even thinner. A 1/4” slice from a 5/4 board will look like a potato chip the next morning.

Plus, you need to resaw them thicker to allow for final sanding and planing.

-- Andy - Seattle USA

View Jwilliamsrc's profile

Jwilliamsrc

3 posts in 28 days


#3 posted 01-26-2020 12:24 AM

Get your 4/4 board and I would resaw it to 1/4 and 1/2 is about all you will get. A 10” bandsaw is gonna go slow but a sharp band saw blade and some patience and not too wide of a board it should work.

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Rich

5238 posts in 1226 days


#4 posted 01-26-2020 12:35 AM


If your gonna resaw i would suggest 5 to get 1” material. I can usually get 3 1 ” pieces out of one 4  stick.

- Think0075

+1. You can also get three slices out of 8/4 that will mill to 1/2”. Sometimes 5/4 is hard to find. Also, do the math to see which way is less expensive.

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

View bandit571's profile

bandit571

24644 posts in 3320 days


#5 posted 01-26-2020 12:36 AM

1/2” “Project Panels” are sold at Lowes.

Inside some of the bundles at hardwood dealers, there are usually 1/2” thick “filler slabs” to help make the bundles come out evenly….might ask about those.

One can use a tablesaw to cut as deep as it can, at the thickness you want..then finish the cut with that bandsaw…BTDT. Then plane flat.

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

View exslidder's profile

exslidder

59 posts in 704 days


#6 posted 01-26-2020 12:56 AM

i would save for a quality bandsaw. if you do the math when you buy a 5/4 board and can cut it in half you just lowered the original price by half. it doesnt take long to pay for a bandsaw. i also made a jig up to cut short logs into usable lumber for projects. some of the best money i spent was on a bandsaw.

-- No dust on the floor....No money in the bank

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

4582 posts in 1219 days


#7 posted 01-26-2020 01:18 AM

The other thing to consider is how much width you need. I’ve built some boxes with 1.5” high sides. That’s 7/4 sawn into strips, and as a bonus, if starting with rift-sawn 7/4, you end up with quartersawn (or nearly so) pieces. And it’s a much easier cut to make in a bandsaw, table-saw, or by hand.

Also ask at your lumber dealer. They may have odd bits they’ll let you have for cheap. Or they may offer to resaw for you. My local lumber yard when I lived in Minneapolis was happy to cut things down for me, and surface them if I wanted that, too.

And for one final answer, with a fixed-fence kerfing plane, a panel saw, and some hand planes, I can reliably turn a 4/4 piece into two book-matched 3/8 pieces. That’s probably my most common resawing, and makes a nice top for a box after I glue the two pieces together and taper the edges down to 1/4 to drop into a groove in the sides. One of these days I’ll make a panel-raising plane for just those measurements, but for now I taper the edges freehand.

-- Dave - Santa Fe

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Madmark2

839 posts in 1225 days


#8 posted 01-26-2020 02:02 AM

I resaw up to 6” on the ts. I have to come in from each edge but it works. Then to the planer for final dim. I can get two ~5/16” slices out of a piece of 3/4” (1” nominal) stock. A quick pass on the planer gets me finished .250” dimensioned stock. I can get 3, 1/4” pieces out of full 4/4 stock (or at least 2, 1/4” pieces and a 3/16” slab). All of the previous with a thin kerf blade.

M

-- The hump with the stump and the pump!

View wildwoodbybrianjohns's profile (online now)

wildwoodbybrianjohns

838 posts in 184 days


#9 posted 01-26-2020 02:03 AM

Dont know if this will help you, or not, you could try looking for suppliers to luthiers(guitar makers), or suppliers to knife makers, or suppliers to lathe turners. These types of suppliers sell stock in various sizes, milled to at least A2, if not A4. For example, I buy alot of stock that is milled for guitar necks, which is guaranteed to be stable(dried), and only needs a pass through the thicknesser to ready for a build.

Of course, buying this way is more expensive, but costs even out IMO, versus the time spent milling rough stock.

-- Wildwood by Brian Johns: If you tell the truth, you dont have to remember anything (S. Clemens) Edit: Now where is that darn pencil/ tape measure!

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Dark_Lightning

3807 posts in 3746 days


#10 posted 01-26-2020 04:05 AM

A decent hardwood retailer will have 1/2” thick lumber in a variety of widths. I buy 1/2” thick S4S lumber all the time (hard maple, poplar, red oak, walnut and white oak, in particular). Check around with the lumber yards in your area.

-- Steven.......Random Orbital Nailer

View Andybb's profile (online now)

Andybb

2502 posts in 1240 days


#11 posted 01-26-2020 05:16 AM



A decent hardwood retailer will have 1/2” thick lumber in a variety of widths. I buy 1/2” thick S4S lumber all the time (hard maple, poplar, red oak, walnut and white oak, in particular). Check around with the lumber yards in your area.

- Dark_Lightning


And if it’s really 2/4 with a good saw you can resaw that into 2 almost 1/4” slices.

-- Andy - Seattle USA

View SMP's profile

SMP

1779 posts in 542 days


#12 posted 01-26-2020 06:39 AM

How wide of boards do you need and how long?

View pintodeluxe's profile

pintodeluxe

6063 posts in 3450 days


#13 posted 01-26-2020 07:21 AM

I would argue that planing 4/4 down to 1/2” occasionally is the least wasteful way to go.

Many times I’ve resawed a board into one thick and one thin board. More times than not, they both warp, and the whole board becomes firewood.

In the process of smoothing rough lumber, you’ll naturally come across some that doesn’t quite net 3/4”. Use this to mill your 1/2” and thinner stock. Be careful to remove material evenly from both sides to prevent warping.

Obviously what you’re making has a lot to do with the lumber requirements. Does it need to straight and flat on its own, or is the thin wood glued to something else for support? If a little bow can be corrected by attaching the thin lumber to a framework, then I won’t hesitate to resaw.

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

View LittleBlackDuck's profile

LittleBlackDuck

3672 posts in 1457 days


#14 posted 01-26-2020 07:26 AM

G’day l’up, and welcome to LJ.

Being an ignoramus, I’ve never mastered the 4/4, 5/4, 6/4 etc dimensions… However, do the sums.

Are you resawing yourself?

  • No. Let the supplier do the sums.
  • Yes. Grab a small piece of timber (eg. 6” long of 2” x 1”). Measure the width. Resaw it down the middle using the saw and blade you intend to use. Slap the two pieces (individually) into a vice, cut side up and plane each down till the cut side is smooth from teeth marks. Place the planed sides together and if they fit fairly flush you can measure the new width… That is going to be your “nominal kerf allowance” per resaw pass. Now this assumes that your bandsaw/tablesaw and methodology is sound and you can repeat cuts. The wider the board the more you will deviate if your “cutter” is not properly tuned and that kerf will become a canyon.
    Lets ignore drift for the moment. Using the “kerf” and your belief in your accuracy, you should be able to guestimate what you should finish up with from the dimensions you start with and your desired dimensions and the anticipated kerf per cut.

Now all that may sound nebulous, but no more than advice you may get from any “professional” recommending to a novice that may confuse instructions or perform an inaccurate cut due to inappropriate, badly tuned equipment and methodology.

Use the wrong method/equipment and you may not even get a full length 1/4” laminate from a 3” board…

Guess what I’m alluding to is that, at least me, have no prior knowledge of your ability or machinery available and if you are just starting, and would recommend trial and error is your best practice with nearly as many errors as trials… with time that ratio will change.

-- If your first cut is too short... Take the second cut from the longer end... LBD

View Jack Lewis's profile

Jack Lewis

576 posts in 1715 days


#15 posted 01-26-2020 03:55 PM



i would save for a quality bandsaw. if you do the math when you buy a 5/4 board and can cut it in half you just lowered the original price by half. it doesnt take long to pay for a bandsaw. i also made a jig up to cut short logs into usable lumber for projects. some of the best money i spent was on a bandsaw.

- exslidder

I agree, some of my best creative ideas have come from resawing logs chunked.

-- "PLUMBER'S BUTT! Get over it, everybody has one"

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