Making Very Thin Boards - Bandsaw Technique? Planer? - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 13 Old 12-23-2017, 12:49 PM Thread Starter
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Making Very Thin Boards - Bandsaw Technique? Planer?

I need very thin boards to make 4 x 4 inch drink coasters from three layers of wood. I do not want the coasters to be "caveman" thick, so I need very thin boards - 1/16 and 1/8 inch thick, and very uniform. A coaster would be a sandwich of 1/16, 1/8, and 1/16 boards to make a 1/4 inch thick coaster. I plan to cut grooves in the middle layer to hold condensation, and use a hole saw on the top layer so the glass can rest on the middle layer. (I will use a beeswax finish for waterproofness.)

I have a new-to-me DeWalt DW735 planer. The planer seems straightforward to use, and I get the issues with flatness, grain direction, snipe, tearout, etc.

I also have a new-to-me 1953 Delta 890 bandsaw that I just got ready for use. It has been carefully aligned, and it came with several HSS blades of different widths, pitches, and tooth types, including a re-saw blade. I don't know how sharp or dull they are, but they still cut. I installed a Kreg fence and I have their rounded resaw guides. The bandsaw clearly requires practice and experience. I tried a few test cuts with and without the resaw guides attached to the fence. It seems clear to me that the thinner the board, the harder it is to get a uniform thickness.

I have a random orbital sander and an old finish sander, and I can do hand sanding, of course. Unfortunately, I do not own a jointer or a drum sander.

I have some nice hardwood boards 4/4 and 3/4. I want to resaw them on the bandsaw first, so I don't waste a lot of expensive wood by planing them down.

Here is my general question:

1. Given the available tools, how would you make those 1/16 inch thin boards? My goal is clean, flat, uniform, glue-ready, thin 4 x 4 boards (or maybe 4.25 x 4.25 for later trimming). Please be detailed enough that a novice like me can follow.

Here are my bandsaw questions:

2. How do you push the boards through and keep them straight without getting your thumb or fingers on the cut line? It is hard enough to control the board, and a push stick makes it much harder.

3. Which side of the blade do you use for the board? The fence side of the blade (left side) or the "outside" of the blade (right side)?

4. Do you recommend that I resaw the boards with the flat fence or with the rounded resaw guides to get the 1/16 inch thickness I need?

5. How do you process the re-sawn boards to make them flat and uniform and eliminate bandsaw cut marks? (Remember, there is no jointer available.) Quick sanding on a flat sheet of sandpaper? Run them through the planer after the re-saw? ... and would a planer work to make 1/16 inch thin boards?

6. How do you deal with re-sawing the next inner board where there would be cut lines on the board, and the two flat surfaces may not be perfectly parallel? Would you run the "waste" through the planer first before cutting the next slice?

7. How can a novice bandsaw user tell which blades are still good and sharp and which ones should be replaced?

Thanks in advance for any advice you can share!
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post #2 of 13 Old 12-23-2017, 02:19 PM
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It's easier if I describe my method ...

First off, I have a jointer to make the surface I put against the fence straight and flat. I set the fence to the left of a 1/2" wide 3 TPI resaw blade just a bit more than my final thickness to allow for sanding or planing, depending on the thickness. I may plane boards thicker than 1/4" and drum sand those under 1/4" ...as a rule. This results in boards that are ready to use with a minimum of hand work.

If you don't have a jointer OR a drum sander there will be much more sanding by hand or with a random orbit sander required. If you want to save time, you can buy 1/16" thick veneer in sheets online.

If you have to resort to using a ROS, place your boards next to each other on a flat surface to spread out the sanding pressure over a wider area. This will eliminate rounding over the edges on narrow boards. :smile3:

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)

Last edited by woodnthings; 12-23-2017 at 03:13 PM.
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post #3 of 13 Old 12-23-2017, 02:43 PM
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I'd buy a sheet of "door skin." Most of it is rotary turned mahogany but you might find some with an apple or walnut surface.
Next up is the Baltic birch plywood that top modellers use for it's dimensional stability.
Next, door skin and select some species of veneer to attach.

Solid woods lack dimensional stability when cut thin.
Very quickly change moisture content and warp.
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post #4 of 13 Old 12-23-2017, 02:47 PM
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Are you wanting to use different woods to provide contrast in the final product? If so I do not think that "slabs" only 1/16" thick are going to show much color at all. You will be spending a lot of time for little or no result that you want.

George
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post #5 of 13 Old 12-23-2017, 04:06 PM
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start with 2 layers 1/8" thick, one layer 1/4" thick.

glue one 1/8 layer to the 1/4 layer
run it thru the planer to make the 1/8 layer 1/16 thick

flip the blank over and run the 1/4 side thru the planer to 1/8

glue the second 1/8 layer to the sandwich on the other side
flip & run it thru the planer to make the top 1/8 layer 1/16

my planer will do down to 1/8 -
note that you need to surface all the blanks before gluing
also, you can start with thicker blanks - just takes more planer passes
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post #6 of 13 Old 12-23-2017, 04:51 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GeorgeC View Post
Are you wanting to use different woods to provide contrast in the final product? If so I do not think that "slabs" only 1/16" thick are going to show much color at all. You will be spending a lot of time for little or no result that you want.

George
Good point. ... and yes, I want to make it out of contrasting woods. It will be maple and walnut. I have a little of both in the shop. You will see the contrasting layers from the outside, of course, but also from the inside where the glass rests. The layers will make it easier for me to cut and fit the grooved center, I think.

I am also planning to build an artistic holder for the coasters to rest in when they are not in use.
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post #7 of 13 Old 12-23-2017, 04:53 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for everyone for their great advice and suggestions.

I am hoping to see some responses to my bandsaw technique questions, too. Anyone?
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post #8 of 13 Old 12-23-2017, 05:38 PM
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the biggest bit to re-sawing is the blade. do you have a proper re-saw blade?

use a pusher stick/board, not your fingers. hopefully you're doing one long 'stock' piece and cutting it to size after glue up, etc. re-sawing bunches and piles of real thin 4x4" pieces .... not so much

having on smooth face is very helpful when re-sawing - I would not recommend trying to do 1/16 - firstly because there will be saw marks you have to remove/smooth using (my suggestion...) the planer. re-saw thicker and plane to finish thickness.

in that thickness range, I'd go with a flat solid fence - and some flavor of feather board to keep the work tight against the fence.
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post #9 of 13 Old 12-23-2017, 07:45 PM
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I see the only concern being the center board which you would like to be about 1/16.
I would start by laminating the 3 boards together with the thin board in the center. The two outside boards could be any thickness because youre going to run them through your planer. Plane down by flipping the board until you get down to the 1/4+ you want.
Now, how to get the center board a nice smooth 1/16 ? I think this will be more difficult than many may think. And because if this, I recommend using a veneer in the center. Even if you use 2 or 3 thicknesses of veneer it will still be flat and uniform. I like the idea of using a door skin for the center if you can find one to meet your needs.
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If you don't have time to do it right the first time, when will you have time to do it over?
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post #10 of 13 Old 12-23-2017, 07:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TomCT2 View Post
start with 2 layers 1/8" thick, one layer 1/4" thick.

glue one 1/8 layer to the 1/4 layer
run it thru the planer to make the 1/8 layer 1/16 thick

flip the blank over and run the 1/4 side thru the planer to 1/8

glue the second 1/8 layer to the sandwich on the other side
flip & run it thru the planer to make the top 1/8 layer 1/16

my planer will do down to 1/8 -
note that you need to surface all the blanks before gluing
also, you can start with thicker blanks - just takes more planer passes
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post #11 of 13 Old 12-23-2017, 07:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GeorgeC View Post
Are you wanting to use different woods to provide contrast in the final product? If so I do not think that "slabs" only 1/16" thick are going to show much color at all. You will be spending a lot of time for little or no result that you want.

George
Some coaster sets are stacked when not in use. If you made each coaster out of different colored woods, the color variance would be very apparent when stacked.
Each person gets a different colored coaster when in use. Much easier.
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If you don't have time to do it right the first time, when will you have time to do it over?
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post #12 of 13 Old 12-23-2017, 08:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Toolman50 View Post
Some coaster sets are stacked when not in use. If you made each coaster out of different colored woods, the color variance would be very apparent when stacked.
Each person gets a different colored coaster when in use. Much easier.
Yes, this would be the way to get the desired look.

George
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post #13 of 13 Old 12-23-2017, 09:13 PM
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Not sure what your time restrictions for this project. Doing this cutting on the band saw will have a learning curve. Another source for good thin woods are hobby shops. Usually those that sell model airplane supplies. They will have some different woods and various thicknesses you good thin plywood.
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