Before hitting the start button on the saw, there are a few things to know. You will be turning a piece of wood on its edge, and cutting a much wider width than when doing routine curve cutting, or contour work. There will be many more teeth engaged in the wood during this cut. For this reason, you would normally choose a blade with the teeth pretty far apart. A 4 tooth per inch, or even a 3 tooth per inch is a typical tooth spacing, though the EXTA Edge variable pitch blade is the best choice if you seek a smooth cut that requires little sanding to finish up.

By way of an example, let’s assume you have a piece of wood that it a bit more than ¾” thick, by about 5 inches wide. To resaw it, you will turn the wood on edge. The saw will believe that the wood is 5 inches thick, since that is how it is presented to the blade. The tooth that enters the top of the cut will be required to keep the cut particles – chips, saw dust, waste, whatever you call it – in the gullet of the blade until it can exit the cut at the bottom. There will be a LOT of sawdust, so connecting a dust collector is a great help. It keeps the blade cutting cooler and more quickly.

Another point to consider is that the “thicker” material in which the blade is working requires more power to pull the blade, since more teeth are working. A very common size of saw is 14”. The motor on these machines can run from 1/2 HP, 3/4HP, 1 HP, or 1-1/2 HP. I tend to believe that it takes at least 1 HP to get the job done, and 1-1/2HP is better. You will need to listen to the motor and ease up on the feed rate when the motor bogs down. If you have a 1 horse motor, you will be able to bog it down.

Motor voltage is also important. Since many home woodworkers don’t have a ready supply of 230 volt power, most machines operate on 115 volts AC. Most, or at least many, motors are capable of operating on either 115VAC or 230 VAC with a little internal wiring change. Usually a diagram for this change is on a plate somewhere on the motor. OF course the voltage at the wall receptacle must be the same as how the motor is wired. Any dual voltage motor uses one half the amps at 230 volts as it does at 115V. The motor seems to have more power and it runs cooler.

SO – why not just a bigger motor? The simple fact is that the practical limit to motor horsepower is 1-1/2hp, when 115 volts AC is available. The motor draws 15 amps of current under load. That is all a #14 wire can deliver to the motor. Up to 20 amps can be passed on a #12 wire, and 30 amps on #10 wire. IF you have a long extension cord, make sure the wire size is adequate. BUT regardless of wire size – the limitations of physics simply makes higher horsepower impractical when only 115 volts is available. It is always better if you can run the motor on 230 volts.
Blade width – obviously, a wider blade tends to be more stable from top to bottom, an important point when resawing. A ½´wide blade is a workable size on a 14” saw, and many will handle up to ¾” width. Is it better? A qualified YES. The wider blade is also made of thicker steel, meaning that while it is more stable front to back and side to side during the cut, it also requires a great deal more tension to operate the blade. This additional tension will place much more stress on the mechanics of your saw. The thicker material also results in a wider kerf – more material is removed – thus requiring even more horsepower from the motor to keep it cutting steadily. While you may well be able to install a ¾” wide blade on your saw, it will likely perform better with a ½” wide blade.

Tension – I am not a big fan of high tension on the blade during resaw cuts. Just tension it nice and firm, and see how it goes. If it does not cut pretty straight, there is usually another issue that needs to be addressed, and more tension will not necessarily result in a straighter cut.

My first choice for resawing on a 14” band saw is the EXTRA-Edge resaw blade from Edge, Mfg. It is ½” wide with a 3 / 4 variable pitch design, which reduces the harmonic vibration during the cut. The blade also has an optimized precision set for the smoothest finish possible. Another advantage is the .022” thickness of the steel – a bit thinner than many other blades. This, plus the minimal set makes for the narrowest cut we can provide with good cutting properties. This means that it takes LESS HORSEPOWER to cut, which is very important when surplus power is not available. IT also means you get minimum saw dust, and maximum number of pieces. Many times, when cutting thin veneers, it means an extra piece of veneer or two, due to the minimal waste in the kerf.

More in our next conversation.