Say from a standard board 1 in x3 in x6 feet cut strips of 1/8 in thickness?

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    The way to do it, is you need to have the hand saw perfectly sharpen and good hand/eye control. Potentially dangerous is a matter of attention and control. A hand saw/tool can be as dangerous as a power tool.
    – crip659
    Apr 12, 2021 at 20:56
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    Once upon a time everything was done with hand tools. Do you have a more specific question?
    – isherwood
    Apr 12, 2021 at 21:01
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    Does "find a place that sells veneer sheets" count? Because im assuming the question is a means to an end. Apr 12, 2021 at 21:51
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    Well traditionally you would rip it down to something like 3/8" in a rough cut.... and then "joint" it to make one side straight... then "plane" the other side to make it 1/8". Apr 12, 2021 at 22:53
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    What is the actual objective? What does "only using hand tools" mean? Is it a test of skill to do this completely freehand with only a panel saw? Or is it ok to use specialized jigs and tools? If you have a jig and a guide for the wood and for the saw, ... you are well on the way to using a table saw, just replace the motor with a crank. Would that count? People are suggesting ways to buy stock that is closer to your end product but there must be a reason you phrased your question the way you did. What is it?
    – jay613
    Apr 13, 2021 at 12:59

3 Answers 3


Adjust your thinking.

You've noted that you're trying to make some trim pieces. I can't, for the life of me, envision what you need 1x1/8" trim for, but I'll assume you need it and that's the perfect size for what you're after. (Oh! You're making doll-houses or other scale models! Of course.)

I'd suggest that you rip your wood in 1/4" wide strips, then plane to the final thickness.

Even the highest quality hand-saws will leave a rough cut that won't be acceptable for finish trim work. By cutting to 1/4" thickness, your cutting will be easier to handle than it would be at 1/8" (though it will still require a level of precision that you'll likely only attain on the later strips after you've had some practice).

By planning ahead to plane it to the final thickness, the precision of your cuts won't matter nearly as much, and the planed surface will be much nicer than the rough-cut surface. Depending on the installation details, you can get away with only planing the visible side. You may need to give the hidden side a pass or two with the hand plane to get it smooth enough to sit nicely, then do all the finishing work on the visible side.

A properly sharpened and adjusted hand plane will give you paper thin shavings, somewhere on the order of 1/64", so you'll be able to sneak right up to your final thickness. I'd suggest popping over to Woodworking.se for loads of info on sharpening and tuning the plane to get it to make these paper thin shavings.

Depending on how many pieces you need to make, I'd recommend a jig into which you can place the freshly cut pieces, with a stopper at one end to prevent it from moving, and sides to act as a depth-stop so you don't accidentally over plane and end up with something too thin.

  • "Even the highest quality hand-saws will leave a rough cut that won't be acceptable for finish trim work" Do you literally own no Japanese saws? ^_^ "A properly sharpened and adjusted hand plane will give you paper thin shavings" Yup. "somewhere on the order of 1/64"..." Duuude. (3rd paragraph.)
    – Graphus
    Apr 15, 2021 at 7:57
  • This is absolutely the right approach (in outline) and not just for sawing by hand. Even using a bandsaw — THE tool for this — you wouldn't be sawing to final thickness, no matter how good the bandsaw, how wide the blade and how sharp it was. However given the lengths the OP wants I do think this is going to prove basically impossible (I don't know about you, but I'm fairly certain I couldn't do it repeatably..... and definitely not on SPF if that was what they intended to buy!). I think there's basically only one way to go here, and that's buying in 1/4" stock to plane to thickness.
    – Graphus
    Apr 15, 2021 at 8:04
  • Uh, no, I don't own any Japanese saws, @Graphus. I hope I don't have to turn in my Garage Shop Access Card now...
    – FreeMan
    Apr 22, 2021 at 17:24
  • Yes I'm afraid you do. We'll begin the cancellation procedure now shall we? ^_^
    – Graphus
    Apr 23, 2021 at 1:12
  • Now jokes aside you really do want to try a Japanese-style saw at some point. There are some great low-cost ones available these days, directly from China or on Amazon if you prefer (or from Lidl or Aldi if you have either near you). As you might know, not everyone finds they get along with a pull saw but man, the cut quality can be awesome. I have a small kataba-style saw with two blades, 22TPI and 17TPI and even the coarse one (coarse hahaha) produces a surface so good you could almost use it as-is with zero sanding. With the 22TPI one the end grain looks almost polished... even on pine!
    – Graphus
    Apr 23, 2021 at 1:19

As I understand it, ripping 1" x 3" x 6' to 1/8" thickness would result in strips that are 1" x 1/8" x 6'. I think that will be very hard to do with hand tools.

My recommendation is start with 1/8" thick wood. Not a lot of choices, but at least some available in 4' x 8' sheets. Starting with that, you will be cutting something like 2' x 6' x 1/8". The cuts will now be 1" wide instead of 1/8" - much easier to handle. Each cut will be through 1/8" of wood instead of 1" - so it will be 8x as fast & easy - actually a lot easier - almost to the point of score & cut.

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    1/8" plywood sheet can be had in 4x8 sheets. HD may be out because of COVID. Apr 12, 2021 at 22:51
  • I need trim wood, like pine etc. And I can't find anyone selling anything closer to the dimensions I need. If you know it, let me know. Thanks.
    – Manu
    Apr 12, 2021 at 23:00
  • You may need to be a little more flexible on the dimensions. For example, in a quick search I could find wood molding in ~ 1-1/2" wide by 1/4" thick, so if you can handle 1/4" instead of 1/8" there are definitely more options.
    – manassehkatz-Moving 2 Codidact
    Apr 13, 2021 at 2:14
  • This is a much easier approach. But I have never seen 1/8 plywood. The thinnest sheet i found is the underlayment which is slightly under 1/4"
    – Quoc Vu
    Apr 14, 2021 at 22:17

Guitar makers do this all the time, but they don't use a saw, generally. Create a jig that holds a chisel as a scraper, and then you pull the strips through it, narrowing the space slightly each time.

The idea is to saw oversized and then plane or scrape to thickness. The takeaway here is that 1/8inch strips are best thought of as "binding". And binding has traditionally been made with a scraper.

As for how to get the starter strip, that depends on the kind of wood. Again, guitar makers would probably be doing this with softwood, and the initial cut would just be careful successive cuts with a sharp knife along a scribed line.

  • Scraping to thickness in this sort of way is totally a thing, and many older jigs use a spokeshave blade (q.v. Robert Wearing's books). But getting the starter strip is the key difficulty if one is entirely reliant on hand tools.
    – Graphus
    Nov 29, 2021 at 16:11