My local lumber yard had a good sale on some timbers and I thought to use them to replace my failing garden border. They're 6" x 6". The previous border was two 3" x 3" stacked atop each other. I figured I can rip the timber.

I tried passing both sides with a 7 1/4" circular saw without using my brain. I found my plunge depth was only about 2 1/2". So I have an inch in the middle. I tried taking a hand saw, but the density of the wood, and not perfectly aligned initial passes with the circular saw make the hand sawing probably about a one hour job.

I don't have a table saw, nor a Sawzall, but I suppose I can try to find or rent one. What would you do in this scenario?

  • Do you own a chainsaw?
    – longneck
    Commented Mar 8, 2022 at 20:48
  • @longneck nope, unfortunatelry.
    – AdamO
    Commented Mar 8, 2022 at 21:24
  • 2
    nows the time to get a cheap ($25) "sawzall" from harbor fright.
    – dandavis
    Commented Mar 8, 2022 at 22:09
  • Ya, I agree. A cheap sawzall or electric chainsaw is probably the most expedient solution. Whichever you think you will get more use out of in the future.
    – longneck
    Commented Mar 8, 2022 at 22:25
  • 1
    "not perfectly aligned initial passes with the circular saw" you're SoL, don't do that. If it was a lap joint or a splice then you over-cut and it's useless. Ripping the whole thing: you're going to encounter "tension. Most boards have a smidge, some boards have wild amounts of it." woodtalkonline.com/topic/… - when you rip a board like that you have to let it season again to see if it's going to warp. Which it will unless it's choice lumber. You're going to have a pile of oddball lumber, half of which is now warped when it wasn't.
    – Mazura
    Commented Mar 9, 2022 at 0:28

3 Answers 3


If the cut face does not need to be neat/smooth/finish, then a simple wedge and sledge hammer should split them with only one inch left.

Can also take them back to the lumber yard and they probably will slice them up for for a few bucks.

Rent or buy a sawzall or table saw if wanting to do it yourself.

  • 2
    "Sawzall" is a brand name of Milwaukee for their reciprocating saw.
    – P2000
    Commented Mar 9, 2022 at 17:11
  • Not when you spell it sawsall. It seems that the users that cared about using trade names instead of brand names all left. I'm tired of saying slip joint pliers; they're freaking channel locks, IDC if you don't want me to call it a Xerox. - google is a verb now. Lower case s, sawzall is a (not proper) noun, so no one can complain.
    – Mazura
    Commented Mar 9, 2022 at 21:18
  • I ended up using the wedge and sledge approach. It was tedious, but at the end of the day I couldn't easily get my hands on any new tools and this is what I had lying around. I found that as I started to separate the grains from the wood, the saw passed through easily and provided more like relief cuts. The split end looks like garbage, but no matter. I'd never do this again.
    – AdamO
    Commented Mar 10, 2022 at 22:43
  • no it's not it's "sabre saw" and "multi grips" :-)
    – Jasen
    Commented Mar 13, 2022 at 9:13

Given that set of tools, I'd likely:

  1. Not rip them (solves that problem neatly.)
  2. If trying to rip that way, line up the cuts more carefully.
  3. ...And use a sharp handsaw. Because I'm betting it's dull, more than the density of the timber. It also might be a crosscut saw, rather than a ripsaw, and that matters, especially for a handsaw. So a sharp ripsaw might make all the difference...

There are a bunch of methods with various other tools more suited to the size of timber, such as simply slice on a bandsaw, but you don't have one.

Using them full size is by far the simplest and merely requires buying more on sale, rather than lots of labor, renting or buying new tools, etc. You can assess the value of your time to slice them in half...

  • A good, sharp ripsaw will likely make quick work of the rest of the cut. Unless, of course, the two cuts do not line up vertically. If that's the case, you'll be trying to bend the saw between the 2 slots and that won't work well at all.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Mar 9, 2022 at 15:44

A jig saw with an 8-10" blade will work quite nicely, especially since the cuts don't line up properly.

I've got a couple of very long jig saw blades and they made quick work of 4x4" PT posts when I was building my deck and needed to make notched cuts. All the ones I've seen have very aggressive teeth for quick, rough cutting in heavy timbers, so you should be good to go there.

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