Its a fairly simple matter for me to saw through and through, making nice 4/4 and 6/4 flatsawn boards, but what about the coveted vertical grain? There are multiple approaches to getting the best yield of vertical grain boards from a log, I take the most straight forward.
My maebiki-oga looks especially nice in the light of this photo, really taking some character from the polishing of use.
This log is a bit small to make it worth quartering, but the huge spiraling split that’s down to the heart of the log fits rather nicely into a single quarter. There’s some serious twist in this log, but that’s really common with the winds we get up here. If I ever find a good stand of straight timber, my god, that would be heaven. Its not like the blue stain pine you find on the open market comes from better quality trees in Colorado, the stuff for sale in Sears Trostel, Fort Collins, CO is comparatively worse, and suffers greatly from what I see as poor drying conditions.
I take quarter-sawn literally. For some it has come to mean vertical grain orientation, where the annular growth rings are at an angle greater than 60 degrees from the face of the board. If you’ve been a woodworker long enough, you’ve probably come across the illustrations of various grain orientations relative to board placement in the log, or the different styles of milling logs. By directly quartering I am able to take boards off the faces of the quarters, alternately, until there’s nothing left. The best vertical grain, and the widest boards come off first, and then the angle of the annular growth rings relative to the face of the board starts to drop. Its not the best way to saw if you want perfect vertical grain on every board, but it wastes a lot less material than radial sawn.
One interesting variation of radial sawing that I would like to try is radially sawing a log for capboard siding, which removes the associated waste problem while producing a high grade product. For some reason I see a lot of wood siding products on the market these days that are flat sawn, actually re-sawn from dimensional stock. It would be a good use for some of these smaller logs that I come across, 10-12″ diameter, which would leave you with 5-6″ wide capboard with a live natural edge, very cool look.
Quartering the log went relatively fast with only two cuts to saw down.
And now we introduce the band saw. If I had a decent saw with a thin kerf compared to my maebiki-oga that was a bit smaller you’d probably be seeing photos of me sawing by hand. As it is I am simply not going to be sharpening after every board cut, too much frustration over poor quality steel. I’m on the lookout for good rip saws, but I want to pay for it with the proceeds of lumber that I sell, which will take a while…
The roller feed tables are really important. Actually I have only one at the moment, I’m using a camera tripod on the far left to support the quarter as the cut is started.
I tried to take my boards off with a fence on the saw table, but it tended to accumulate deviation from cut to cut, and was simply too difficult to use with only one person moving the quarter against the fence. Plus these quarters had several days to relax and warp a bit. Snapping a fresh straight line for every board and cutting freehand without a fence turned out to be much more accurate. I am really loving my ink line, finally getting the hang of it. Such beautiful dark lines! They are a pleasure to the eye.
I’m using a 1/2″, 3TPI bandsaw blade. My bandsaw has 13″ resaw capacity, but the 1HP motor makes me think that I want to not push the limits of the table’s capacity. This pine is quite soft though, and the saw handled it really well.
Don’t worry, I turned the saw off to take this picture. My mantra was, “Don’t cut your fingers off!”. The closest I’ve ever come to losing a finger was with a bandsaw, nearly cut the tip of my thumb off, but that was when I was a teenager and I like to think I’ve learned a thing or two from the experience.
I was worried that I would have to be reaching around the blade to wedge open the cut, but all the boards warped away from the quarter during the cut. I’m cutting all 4/4, just seemed the most useful size for me right now. With 6/4 slabs and vertical grain 4/4 boards I’ll be able to make shoji!
If it wasn’t for grain runout from the twist in the log these boards would be really top quality. I suppose the sawyers around here would quarter saw blue stain pine if you asked them to, but I’ve never seen it for sale. For this 5″ x 8′ board, even at $3.00 bf this is only a ten dollar board once its seasoned. The flat sawn stuff sells for about $2.50 bf at the moment.
Your boards loose width with every one that you take off, eventually you are left with 1×1″ square, perfect for cutting stickers to air dry the lumber. If you’re building industrial size stacks of softwood to dry you want your stickers to be wider to help bear the weight, but I’m not planning on going that big. There’s really very little waste sawing in this manner.
All of the boards laid out so you can see what comes from one small log. Not too shabby, though the splitting ruined one of the quarters. Big timber, here I come!