The Old College Try

Yesterday was my first attempt at sawing rift and quarter sawn boards. We didn’t get started until 2PM or so and in this latitude at this time of year, that doesn’t leave much daylight to give a detailed accounting of the process. And per usual we got a little sidetracked with a few things, not least of which was this cool log below.

The full width capacity of the LT-15 is about 26″ when all is said and done. So we needed to trim a bit off the side before slabbing it out. The plan was to saw through and through at 2″ increments and use the resulting slabs for any number of coffee tables and benches (I’ve been interested in building a sort of hybrid slab/Shaker bench lately).

As luck would have it, we hit metal right away. This came as a surprise being that this log was pulled from a stand of timber in some woods back in a friend’s pasture on his farm. But wouldn’t you know it, there ended up being at least 2-16 penny nails in this beast. We blew out one new blade entirely after the second pass and on our third try with a new blade, after digging out what we assumed to be all the metal, ended up hitting another nail. It didn’t “wreck” the second blade but it definitely had a negative effect and as you’ll see in the photos down below, created some significant chatter on the remaining boards.

After the third time of hitting metal we called it. Which means we ended up with 2 really cool slabs about 2.5″ thick and one very thick 6 inch slab with an undetermined amount of metal in it. Your heart kind of sinks every time you hit a nail and at some point you just have to cut your losses and move on. Below are the two awesome 6′ slabs we managed to obtain. The one on the right makes it easy enough to see where the nails started showing up. There’s also a great bark occlusion running down the middle. Perfect for some butterfly keys.


Quick shot of the wood pile. There’s a lot of pine in there that we’ll use for rustic benches. Otherwise we’ve got a smattering of black walnut, black cherry, a few hickory and some red and white oak here and there.


Most of the Cherry logs we got the other weekend were of medium size, the one below has about a 16″ diameter. To experiment with the rift/quarter sawn method we started with a smaller one with the idea that we would probably mess something up and didn’t want to waste a bigger one. Practically speaking my goal was to get several rift sawn boards that I could use for chair and stool legs down the road.


Here we are in the process of squaring up the log. Based on the WoodMizer graphic from the previous post we didn’t have a big enough log to get any boards from the 4 offcuts so those were just set in the woodburning stove pile. You can see here, where I’ve place some rudimentary marks on the log to indicate where I’ll be cutting to get the proper grain orientation as well as remove the pith.


And the end result. After removing the pith I basically ended up with two 4.5″ x 12″ timbers that I set side by side on the mill and then just cut into 2″ thick boards. Basically cutting two by fours, which will be perfect for stool/chair leg blanks. (I usually start with 2″x2″ blanks for those parts). You’ll notice the band saw marks-that’s a result of hitting that metal earlier which makes for a pretty rough cut. As for the resulting cuts-I neglected to get an end grain shot, nor did I take the time to measure the angles to determine exactly how many quarter sawn boards I got and how many rift sawn boards I got. The wood is now stickered in the air drying shed so the next time I get down to the land, I’ll get those picture and measurements and post here.


In these last two photos you can see some better examples of the rift sawn grain. Not perfect by any stretch and my understanding of the process is still a little fuzzy, but we will get there sooner or later. We do have 1 sycamore log and two really good sized white oak logs that are perfect candidates for this process and I’ll be sure to post the photos from that go-round.