Deep ripping by hand

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AndyT

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I've posted something similar to this before, but some of the details are new so I hope it may be useful to others.

I am planning to make a fairly ambitious table soon, with some very nice wood that a generous forum member gave me. The thing is, I've not made anything much for quite a while, so I think I need a warming-up exercise first. So for now, I plan to make a little dovetailed box - a bread bin.

Several years ago at one of the MAC Timbers weekends, I bought this big lump of Alder:

IMG_5286_zps8sp9tqyt.jpg


It's used for domestic woodware as it has no taint. I believe it's nice and dry. It's about 2 5/8" thick and 46" long. The width varies but I shall deal with that when I edge-joint the boards later. I want some half inch boards, so I need to deep rip it into four pieces. Now I do know quite a few people with big beefy bandsaws that would do this job in a moment and have kindly offered me the use of them, but that wouldn't help me get back into wood working. And I'm not in a hurry. So here's how I set about it.

One of the biggest challenges is holding the work firmly. I'm sure the best option would be a pair of low saw horses, but the floor in my workshop is not flat enough to use them, so I don't have any. My best option is to hold it on the bench, in the vice.

I briefly tried holding it vertical and sawing straight ahead (cutting at right angles to the bench) like this:

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but it was really difficult to get control - to make this cut

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I was kneeling on the floor - no good!

I swapped round 90 degrees and put the wood in the vice, horizontally:

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The far end needed some support, so I drilled a hole in the bench and popped a dowel in:

IMG_5291_zpsar1gwo4c.jpg


This worked well. The wood was solidly supported. The bench is a bit high though, so I raised the floor 4" by standing on this handy bit of oak, salvaged from someone chucking out their fire surround:

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Progress was reasonable. After a little bit, I needed to wedge the cut open slightly:

IMG_5294_zpsk8riqsuq.jpg


Rather than turn round to the other end, as I got further along the cut, I wedged it with a piece of suitable thickness ply and cut on the other side of the vice:

IMG_5296_zpsrfni3hho.jpg


Naturally, the right hand side needed a bit of support to do this. My bench does not have a fancy sliding deadman or selection of peg holes - but it does have a tool drawer under the top, with a handle which was just right for propping the board on!

IMG_5299_zpstubo9ocg.jpg


And this was the eventual result:

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I should add that I had marked a pair of lines about an eighth of an inch apart and sawed between them, swapping round to the opposite side of the wood every so often.

This is the saw I used - a 'second quality' line with 3 1/2 teeth per inch:

IMG_5302_zps1hiv2afd.jpg

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It cuts well - it's satisfying to see the progress with each stroke. The teeth on a rip saw work like tiny planes, shaving thin grooves down into the wood as you can see here:
IMG_5311_zpskuf70joy.jpg


From the timestamps on the photos, this first cut took about fifty minutes. Some of this was messing about with the camera, drinking a cup of coffee, etc, but most of it was just work.

Pleased with the way it went, I planed the sawn surfaces smooth, gauged the centre lines, and started on a second cut. Alder is a mild wood which planes easily - the gashes from inaccurate sawing soon disappeared:

IMG_5305_zpsurepqvev.jpg

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This time I tried an alternative method of holding the wood in the vice, leaning over - a bit like the textbook way of sawing a tenon, but on a bigger scale:

IMG_5310_zps5ouon8xf.jpg


This worked ok, but it still felt a bit high up and for the third cut I reverted to holding the wood horizontal where I could bear down on it better.

Some time (and some sweat) later, this was the result:

IMG_5313_zpsawgiqe4o.jpg


I'll sort out cutting these to length next, then plane them to final thickness as individual pieces to make the box. I will need to avoid a few flaws I have exposed, such as these knots

IMG_5307_zpsrhazdwrv.jpg

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So, overall, would I recommend anyone to rip thin boards this way?

If you have a good bandsaw and just want to get on with a project in the quickest way, No.

But if you have the time, and need the exercise, go for it. You don't have to be super fit or fast if you can take your time. I enjoyed getting a bit more of a workout than I generally do and I think I have got to know how I can expect this particular bit of wood to behave. Of course, it's possible that the boards will all curl up like old sandwiches in the next few days, in which case I shall have learnt a different lesson. :)

Does anyone else do this sort of thing, by necessity or by choice?
 

Jacob

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Dunno that picture of the actual cut looks like a cross cut saw. A rip saw is filed straight across into a chisel edge.
Doing it horizontally at bench height looks particularly difficult - I'd stand it vertically in the vice, turned at 90º - much easier and you can use both hands. You move it up the vice as you cut, etc.
 

Karl

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I did a bit here (scroll down a bit). Fun, but wouldn't be doing it on a regular basis! 3tpi rip saw.

Cheers

Karl
 

NickN

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Nice to see the photos of how you achieved it - I will at some point have to do similar, as I have no bandsaw or table saw, and would most likely use a similar method (though with no workbench yet, using a jawhorse as the vice and stand). Wedging the sawn gap would seem to solve the obvious problem that occurs as the clamping point is neared, but I do wonder whether there are better ways which aren't too complicated.

Perhaps a sacrificial board underneath, with pieces at each side to prevent sideways movement, and a piece at one end to prevent long ways movement... all starts to get a bit involved though.
 

AndyT

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Jacob":2xhvb05m said:
Dunno that picture of the actual cut looks like a cross cut saw. A rip saw is filed straight across into a chisel edge.
Doing it horizontally at bench height looks particularly difficult - I'd stand it vertically in the vice, turned at 90º - much easier and you can use both hands. You move it up the vice as you cut, etc.

Jacob, I know I don't have as many years of experience as you do, but please give me some credit. I do know the difference between a rip saw and a cross cut saw.

I tried to explain why working the way you suggest was not practical for me in this case - but to clarify, there is not a lot of headroom in my workshop. If I stood on a big enough box to reach the top of this piece of wood when it was vertical, I'd be banging my head on the ceiling, which is only about 40" above the bench.

Karl - it's nice to see that even someone with all the machinery available right there will sometimes have a go!

Nick - I think maybe you are getting a bit too complicated - wedging the cut does work! Another option is to cut half way, then start again at the other end.
 

Jacob

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AndyT":3nvvh7o0 said:
..... I do know the difference between a rip saw and a cross cut saw.
Maybe it's set too wide then - the cut looks a bit odd
PS if you look down the length of a rip filed saw you shouldn't be able to see a gap between the rows of teeth as you would with a cross cut.
I tried to explain why working the way you suggest was not practical for me in this case - but to clarify, there is not a lot of headroom in my workshop. If I stood on a big enough box to reach the top of this piece of wood when it was vertical, I'd be banging my head on the ceiling, which is only about 40" above the bench.....
I might have missed something, not sure what the problem was - it looks perfectly do-able in that second photo.
 

worn thumbs

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Admirable persistence.Maybe one day people will start selling ripsaws again,its good exercise and no polar bears have been made homeless by power station emissions.Obviously in a commercial environment power tools will prevail.
 

Bm101

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Chris Schwarz has just been on the phone asking what height you set your drawer at for his new book Andy. :D
 

AndyT

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Bm101":1evopcfc said:
Chris Schwarz has just been on the phone asking what height you set your drawer at for his new book Andy. :D

If only!!
 

MarkDennehy

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AndyT":12g5yuzm said:
Does anyone else do this sort of thing, by necessity or by choice?
Not by choice and not as big a rip as that, and not as well as you did it :D
I'm ripping down some ash from an inch to just-under-half-inch. The board's eight inches across, but I'd rough-sawn it to 30" lengths (mainly so I could get it in the shed - which is a tiny 8x6 thing that's half-full of junk I need to get shot of anyway, so you can understand why I don't have the bandsaw I really, really want to have :D ).
I had a large 300mm ryoba and what looks like an old disston clone (which I'd sharpened up first). It didn't go so well. The ryoba was slow, but clean enough:

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But the disston... ouch.

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I hadn't noticed that the blade had a small bow in it. Maybe on a narrower board it wouldn't have been an issue, but every time I flipped the 8" board around in the vice, I was scooping out a dish on the other side of the inside of the board without realising it. Should have taken my time and done the job with the ryoba.

For the next board, I'm trying a different tack since the slats are all just under 2" wide anyway:

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Ripping a 2" board should be easier than an 8" board, right? :D

Also, I've been trying to bend that bow out of the disston but I'm having no success at all. Anyone got any tips for that? Other than the obvious one of buy another saw...
 

No skills

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Makes me tired just reading it :D

You need a kerfing plane like Jims, well ok you don't need one but it would be nice no?

How are the chair steps holding up?
 

AndyT

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Funnily enough, one of the things I thought as I was doing it, and meant to say, was that I was glad to find that I see no need for a "kerfing plane". Indeed, I'd go so far as to suggest that it's a tool dreamt up by woodworking bloggers to make people think that rip cutting is harder than it is!

The chair steps are holding up nicely, thanks.
 

AndyT

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Mark,

8" ash would be much harder. My alder is nice mild wood and cuts like redwood. And the wider you go, the more you need accuracy of alignment. It can be tempting to "just get on with it" and carry on cutting when you should have stopped and flipped the wood - that's when you will find that the cut has gone crooked. Your narrow boards should be easier but I expect you will see more movement than I did when you open them up.

A bent saw certainly won't help. There was some discussion here which might help.

straightenning-a-saw-advice-needed-t86756.html
 

Sheffield Tony

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AndyT":1f8n3l9c said:
Does anyone else do this sort of thing, by necessity or by choice?

I do ! I spent some time sawing 1" oak boards in half the hard way for the bookcase I shared here. Last week I sawed up a 10" wide old shelf to make some thin material - rather spookily - so that I could replace the botton of our bread bin ! The original (shop bought) had a birch ply bottom that ahd gone mouldy.

Even though you say it is second quality, I lke the look of your rip saw. I have a new one from Thomas Flinn, which is OK for most sensible use, but the pitch is too fine and the blade too short for really deep cuts - the sawdust is not cleared adequately. Obviously the saw really needs to be at least twice as long as the wood is thick, so a 10" board needs a big saw.

I don't have a kerfing plane either, but plowed a 1/8" groove around the board on all four sides first. I don't know that it helps mechanically guide the saw much, but it did mean I could do the sawing without wearing my glasses !
 

Nelsun

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Oh this takes me back to a happy time. A half dressed time. A washing the floor with sweat time.

I'd picked the best 5m out of three 8x4 European Oak sleepers and ripped them all down the middle to give me 10m of 4x4. All cut by hardpoint saw with the stock vertical and resting on ever higher dogs going up the leg of my bench and held in situ in the vise.

Since then I've often looked for rip saws (and winked at a few large bandsaws) but never pulled the trigger. I've never sharpened a hand saw before, so I'd need to be looking at something new... but there doesn't appear to be much in the way of new rip saws. Any recommendations or is a hardpoint saw *almost* as good for similar work?
 

custard

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Blimey Andy, that's impressive ripping. I wouldn't trust myself to stay between those lines from end to end...in fact I'd only just trust my bandsaw to stay between those lines!
 

Nelsun

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^I'll check it out but I have a sneaky suspicion I've seen it before and ended up adding a Spears & Jackson saw for £25 (which seams awfully cheap TBO) to my Amazon wish list. I'll give the wise old trout another viewing though. Ta!
 

MarkDennehy

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Ha! Ripping the 8" board down to 2" and then resawing that worked a treat, even with the ryoba. Worst wander was to about 2mm off the line at one point which is well within the tolerance for this job. If I'd wedged it better or listened more closely, I wouldn't even have had that. And the surface is nice and clean, and won't take much work to plane smooth at all. I know the ryoba's not the best choice in the world for this kind of work, but honestly, for something of this thickness, it's not too shabby at all. I can kindof see why a frame saw would be more useful on the wider boards though - if you had that turned round to cut on the pull, I could see it being pretty accurate too, though maybe I'd start the cut with something with more tpi just for a smoother start.
 

undergroundhunter

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I have done deep ripping mostly in 8" sapele to make some clocks and its bloody hard work. I do agree there is no real need for a kerfing plane though, slow and steady wins the race with this sort of stuff.
Unfortunately when I did it I only has a 6tpi 26" rip saw, I have since bought a 3tpi 30" thumb hole rip, much easier. I now have a 16" bandsaw so done really do much hand ripping anymore.

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Matt
 

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