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I have some project plans. Most of the project calls for using 1/2" parts. I bought 1" thick wood, which actually only ends up being 7/8" when I measure it (I have heard this is normal).

Anyway, there are some parts of the plan that call for 1/4" wood. Is it reasonable to further cut my 7/8" inch thick board to at least get two 1/4" thick boards out of them (with planing). Is this done? Is this safe? If it is done, how do you do it?

I figure maybe with the band saw and a really big jig that keeps the board perpendicular to the band saw base I could split the 7/8" down to 2 3/8", and then plane each of them down to 1/4". This seems theoretically doable, but I want to know if the theoretical translates into the the reasonable.

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How wide and long are the pieces? The solution for a 6' 1x6 will be different than the solution for a 4'x6' sheet of plywood for example. –  Tester101 Feb 22 '13 at 18:02
    
To answer "Is it possible to reduce a 1“ thick board to 1”/N boards?" literally then no, because you have to have to account for the thickness of the blade. I found this guide that might help. They use a table saw which is what I typically see when people try to rip wood. –  Jason Feb 22 '13 at 18:39
    
1"x10.5"x6' is the dimension of the original board. –  Stephen Cagle Feb 23 '13 at 17:51

3 Answers 3

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Theoretically, yes. Reasonably? That depends. You're describing what's termed "resawing", for obvious reasons. And you're absolutely correct on the basics: a properly tuned bandsaw with enough room for the width of the board you're resawing, the right blade, and typically the saw's fence (or a homemade jig) to keep the board properly on it's edge, at 90 degrees to the table.

So in practice, especially when you first start learning this skill, what happens a lot is that the blade will start cutting off to one side or the other. So you're constantly trying to steer the blade and the workpiece to bring the cut back to center. You end up turning one 1" board into 2 boards that range from 1/4" in some spots to 3/4" in other spots. Then you run these wavy-surfaced boards through the thickness planer a few times, and you end up with two 1/4" boards and a whole lot of sawdust.

If you're trying to build your skills, then I don't mean to discourage you. It's an important skill to have if you're gonna do some advanced projects (Google "bookmatching" for example). But if this is a one-off project for you, I'd recommend repurposing the already purchased wood and buying the actual thicknesses you need from a local hardwood dealer (i.e. not HD or Lowe's). Or as another response above mentioned, you could at least thickness plane this wood down and use it for your 1/2" needs. Good luck!

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Thanks, resawing was the word I needed to go to the library and look it up in the woodworking book indexes. I think I am going to give it a shot. The books also mention using the table saw to cut a channel along the edge of the wood, as this seems to make using the bandsaw easier; as the bandsaw tries to stay within the (channeled) area of least resistance. –  Stephen Cagle Feb 27 '13 at 7:16

I think the appropriate tool here would a thickness planer. You would not get two boards but only 1 with the appropriate thickness. Trying to cut a board less than 1" thick will be really difficult and the kerf of the blade alone will probably make this unrealistic. From a safety point of view, there is so little material to work with that you would be in close proximity to the blade.

I would suggest either planing them down or buying the correct dimension of wood. Planing this much is pretty wasteful however.

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Yeah, that was my thing. I just said to myself, "real woodworkers cannot possibly be wasting this much wood?" –  Stephen Cagle Feb 27 '13 at 7:18

I depends on the project but sometimes when they call for 1/4" wood they really mean plywood. Any hardware store will have 1/4" plywood like luan or regular birch plywood that can be cut to size with a jigsaw. This kind of thin wood is often used to cover things, like the back of a set of shelves, or the top of a table. I would be surprised to see solid wood specified at 1/4" sizes. However, if you are talking a very small project like a keyholder or flowerpot then I guess you could have a need for thin solid wood. In that case there is a section in Lowes [and sometimes HomeDepot] that has thin boards like this that are usually 1/4" or 1/2" in shorter lengths and widths, like 1/2" x 6" x 48". The material is usually a softer wood but they are machined pretty flat and cut easily. I believe they are classified as "craft" wood sometimes because they are so thin but they might be what you need.

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