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How To Resaw Without A Bandsaw – 5 Top Alternative Saws Discussed




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Resawing is a woodworking technique where a piece of timber is cut along the middle of its width, turning it into two or more thinner pieces. It’s similar to ripping, where the wood is cut along its length, but in resawing, the cut is made across the grain. The result of resawing is generally two or more pieces that are mirror images of each other, providing the opportunity to create visually striking book-matched panels or veneers.

Resawing plays a critical role in woodworking due to its efficiency and utility. It allows woodworkers to create thinner pieces from larger ones, which not only saves material but also enables the creation of panels, veneers, or book-matched pieces. Resawing opens up possibilities for a range of decorative and practical applications, allowing artisans to maximize the visual appeal of the wood’s grain and pattern. It also increases the yield from each piece of timber, making woodworking more cost-effective and environmentally friendly.

The bandsaw is typically the tool of choice for resawing tasks. This article will cover the topic of how to resaw without a bandsaw. Its design, featuring a long, flexible blade looped around two wheels, allows for stable and uniform cuts along the width of large pieces of wood. The bandsaw is efficient, capable of making straight cuts with minimal waste, and versatile enough to handle different sizes and types of wood. Its ability to maintain a consistent thickness throughout the cut is why many woodworkers prefer it for resawing.

While the bandsaw is often the go-to tool for resawing, it’s not the only option. Not every workshop has one, and they can be an expensive investment for hobbyists or occasional users. This article aims to explore several ways for resawing tasks without a bandsaw. We will dig into the use of table saws, hand saws, circular saws, jigsaws, and reciprocating saws, discussing the pros and cons of each and providing a detailed guide on how to use each tool for resawing. Whether you’re a seasoned professional seeking new techniques or a novice just getting started, there’s something to be learned here. Each technique will then need to be cleaned up with a planer.

How To Resaw Without A Bandsaw

Understanding the Basics of Resawing

Resawing wood refers to the process of slicing a piece of wood along its width, creating two or more thinner pieces from the original. It’s a vertical cut made across the grain of a wide board, as opposed to along the grain, which is known as ripping. When a board is resawn, each resulting piece carries a mirrored grain pattern from its counterpart, allowing for beautiful, symmetrical designs when used in woodworking projects.

There are numerous reasons why a woodworker might need to resaw wood into two boards. Often, it is used to create thin pieces of wood, such as veneers or panels, from thicker stock. Resawing is also used to make book-matched panels or doors, where two pieces of wood from the same original board create a mirrored grain pattern when placed side by side. In addition, resawing can help maximize the yield from a piece of timber, making it a cost-effective technique.

There are a variety of tools that can be used for resawing lumber. The most common is a bandsaw, favored for its ability to create thin, uniform cuts with minimal waste. However, other power tools such as a table saw, circular saw or even a jigsaw can also be used, albeit with different levels of precision and efficiency. For those who prefer manual tools, a well-sharpened hand saw can also be used to resaw wood.

Safety Precautions when Resawing

Safety is paramount in any woodworking project. The nature of the work involves using sharp tools, often with high-speed moving parts, which can lead to serious injuries if not handled with care. It’s crucial to always follow safety guidelines, use the correct protective gear, and ensure you understand the operation of your tools to prevent accidents.

When resawing wood, several pieces of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) should be worn. Eye protection is essential to prevent sawdust or debris from entering the eyes. Hearing protection is also recommended, particularly when using power tools that can produce high noise levels. A dust mask or respirator should be used to avoid inhaling fine wood particles. Lastly, using cut-resistant gloves can provide a safer grip on your tools and the wood.

With each tool used for resawing, there are specific safety measures to consider. For example, when using a table saw, use a push stick or feather board to keep your hands away from the blade. When using a hand saw, ensure you’re using a sturdy vice to hold your wood securely. Each method will be discussed in more detail in this post and subsequent sections, ensuring you know how to resaw safely, no matter the tool you’re using.

Resawing with a Table Saw

To resaw using a table saw, start by adjusting the blade height to just over half the thickness of your board. Then, set the fence distance to match the thickness you want your resawn pieces to be. Make sure the board is flat against the table and the fence. Push the board through the saw, keeping your hands clear of the blade. After the first cut, flip the board over, adjust the maximum height of the blade if necessary, and cut again to complete the resawing. This method may require multiple passes to cut through thicker boards.

Pros and Cons of Using a Table Saw

One of the main advantages of using a table saw for resawing is its power and stability, which can make clean, straight cuts in thicker material. It’s also a common tool found in many workshops. However, the table saw can also be limiting as it has a maximum cut depth, usually around 3 inches, which restricts the size of the board you can resaw. Furthermore, it can be inefficient with larger boards, as multiple passes might be required.

Safety Measures When Using a Table Saw

When using a table saw, always wear your Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), including safety glasses, hearing protection, and a dust mask. Never stand directly behind the blade, to avoid injury in case of kickback. Use a push stick or a feather board to guide the wood through the saw, ensuring your hands stay clear of the blade. Keep your work area clean and free of sawdust to prevent slips or mishaps.

Resawing with a Hand Saw

There are several types of hand saws suitable for resawing. The most common is the rip saw, designed specifically for cutting along the grain. A crosscut saw can also be used for resawing, though it may require more effort. For larger jobs, a frame saw or a two-man crosscut saw can be used to evenly distribute the workload.

To resaw with a hand saw, begin by marking the line you want to cut on all sides of the board. Secure the board in a vice or with clamps, ensuring it’s stable. Position the saw on your line, and begin to cut, applying even pressure and keeping the saw as straight as possible. Continue cutting until you’ve sliced through the entire board. This process can be time-consuming and require a lot of effort, but it can also be very rewarding.

Pros and Cons of Using a Hand Saw

Using a hand saw for resawing has the advantage of not being limited by the size of the board, unlike with a table saw or band saw. It also gives a great deal of control over the cut and doesn’t require electricity, making it a portable option. However, resawing with a hand saw can be very labor-intensive and time-consuming, especially with larger boards. It also typically requires a bit more skill to maintain a straight cut.

Safety Measures When Using a Hand Saw

Despite the hand saw being less potentially hazardous than power tools, it’s still important to observe safety precautions. Always keep your hands away from the path of the blade and ensure the piece you’re cutting is securely clamped or held in a vice. As with all woodworking tasks, wearing safety glasses is crucial to protect your eyes from sawdust. Finally, maintain your saw well – a sharp saw is safer than a dull one, as it requires less force to cut and is less likely to bind or slip.

Resawing with a Circular Saw

Resawing with a circular saw can be achieved by following a few simple steps. Begin by marking the desired width of your cut on the edge of the wood. Set the depth of the circular saw blade to just over half the thickness of the board. Position the saw on the edge of the wood, align the blade with your mark, and begin to cut, moving the saw along the edge. Be sure to keep the saw straight and steady. After the first pass, flip the board and repeat the process to complete the cut.

Pros and Cons of Using a Circular Saw

The circular saw’s significant advantage for resawing is its portability and availability. It’s not restricted to a table, which allows for resawing larger boards. It’s also typically a more affordable tool, making it accessible to a wider range of woodworkers. However, the cut’s accuracy might be lower compared to other tools like a bandsaw or table saw, and the saw’s safety features can make it more challenging to achieve thinner cuts.

Safety Measures When Using a Circular Saw

When using a circular saw, always ensure you’re wearing your Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), including safety glasses, hearing protection, and a dust mask. Keep your hands well away from the blade while cutting and never reach under the workpiece while the saw is running. Ensure the board is well supported and secured before you start cutting, and always wait for the blade to stop spinning completely before setting the saw down after a cut.

Resawing with a Jigsaw

To resaw with a jigsaw, you need to start by marking your cut line on the board. Secure the board so it won’t move during the cutting process. Set the jigsaw to a straight-cut setting with a low orbital action for the cleanest cut. Align the blade with the cut line, start the saw, and then guide it along the line steadily. The jigsaw might not cut through the full thickness in one pass, so you may need to flip the board and cut from the other side to complete the resawing.

Pros and Cons of Using a Jigsaw for Resawing

The main advantage of using a jigsaw is its ability to make curved and straight cuts, offering flexibility. It’s also a readily available tool in many workshops. However, for resawing, a jigsaw might not be the best tool. It can struggle with thicker material, and maintaining a straight, clean cut can be difficult due to blade deflection, especially over the edges and longer cuts.

Safety Measures When Using a Jigsaw

As always, safety is a paramount concern. Always wear appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), including safety glasses to protect from dust and debris. Make sure you have a firm grip on the jigsaw before starting to cut. Don’t force the saw; let it cut at its own pace to avoid the blade binding or the motor overheating. Finally, always ensure the jigsaw is switched off and the blade has stopped moving before setting it down.

Resawing with a Reciprocating Saw

When using a reciprocating saw for resawing, start by securely clamping the wood and marking your cut line across the width of the piece. Adjust the shoe of the saw to rest against the piece of wood. Hold the saw firmly with both hands and align the blade with your marked line. Begin your cut at a slow speed, increasing gradually once the saw blade has created a groove to follow. Once the first side is cut, flip the wood over and repeat the process.

Pros and Cons of Using a Reciprocating Saw

One of the advantages of a reciprocating saw is its power and versatility, being able to cut a variety of materials. It’s portable and allows for flexibility in cutting positions. However, the reciprocating saw can be challenging to control and maintain a straight line, especially for less experienced users. This lack of precision can result in a rougher cut that may require additional processing.

Safety Measures When Using a Reciprocating Saw

When operating a reciprocating saw, always wear your Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), which includes safety glasses, hearing protection, and a dust mask. The saw can generate a significant amount of dust, so a dust mask is essential. Maintain a firm grip on the saw at all times during operation, and be aware of the potential for kickback. Always make sure the blade has come to a complete stop before setting the saw down.

Tips to Improve Resawing Efficiency

Achieving straight cuts when resawing is key to maximizing the efficiency of your wood. One technique is to use a straight edge or guide clamped to the center of the piece being cut. This guide can provide a physical line to follow, increasing accuracy. Always marking your cut lines clearly can also help. Take your time with the cut, and let the saw do the work without forcing it through the material.

Proper tool maintenance is integral to efficient resawing. Ensure that your blades are sharp and in good condition. A dull blade can make the saw work harder and can result in rough, inaccurate cuts. Regularly check your tools for signs of wear and tear, and replace or repair them as necessary. Regular cleaning to remove dust and debris can also help to prolong tool life and improve performance.

Like any skill, woodworking, including resawing, improves with practice. Spending time using different saws and techniques will help you understand what works best for you and the particular project you’re working on. Also, consider joining a local woodworking club or online community. These can provide valuable opportunities to learn from more experienced woodworkers and to share your own experiences, ideas, and solutions.


Throughout this article, we’ve explored several methods for resawing without the use of a bandsaw. These alternatives, including the table saw, hand saw, circular saw, jigsaw, and reciprocating saw, each has their unique advantages and challenges. The choice depends largely on the specific needs of your project, the tools you have at your disposal, and your personal comfort and skill level with each tool.

Remember that personal safety should be your top priority when working with any type of saw. Always wear the appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and follow recommended safety procedures for each tool. As with any skill, becoming proficient at resawing requires practice. Don’t be discouraged if your initial attempts don’t yield perfect results; woodworking is a journey of continual learning and improvement.

Resawing is a valuable skill in woodworking that can broaden the range of projects you can tackle and help you make the most of your material. Though bandsaws are often the go-to tool for resawing, don’t be deterred if you don’t have access to one. As we’ve demonstrated, there are many ways to effectively resaw without a bandsaw. With patience, practice, and a focus on safety, you can master these techniques and enhance your woodworking projects.


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