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Let's say your board is 33mm thick, and you want to have two 15mm boards instead (saw is 3mm thick). A friend told me that I have to use a bandsaw for this task but what if you only have a table saw?

The problem is that something (or a very unlucky someone) will have to hold the board using a mere 15mm of the edge. I made the following jig that uses a fine-tooth saw blade to grip the less-than-half of the edge from one side and two screws to hold it from the other.

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This solution works, but it is obviously not ideal since I have to remove the riving knife. Also, the piece tends to fall down the saw disc opening.

Is there a better solution?

EDIT

Thank you for the great advice! I will dismantle the jig and use the rip fence with push sticks, zero clearance insert, feather board, and a non-protruding riving knife.

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    THis is called 'resawing'. You will find much more relevant if you use this search term, e.g.Is it safe to resaw on a table saw?
    – Volfram K
    Jan 30 at 5:44
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    How much experience do you have with your TS Martin? Reason I'm asking is I'm not sure why instead of a complex (and unnecessary) jig you didn't first think of a much simpler solution — push sticks and a feather board/pressure stick for example.
    – Graphus
    Jan 30 at 17:38
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    "Also, the piece has a tendency to fall down the saw disc opening." A zero-clearance insert should be a priority! This is true of any TS operation where the offcut may fall into the space beside the blade but especially for resawing, since the board is upright against the blade which might be fully raised (maximising the chances of kickback).
    – Graphus
    Jan 30 at 17:43
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    "Especially if I have to remove the riving knife." You don't. One of the most reproduced images of resawing being done on the TS has the splitter/riving knife still fitted. Push sticks can be very safe, many pros and experienced amateurs who ARE safety conscious rely on them and there are many many demonstrations on how to use them safely (e.g. making sure body is not in line with potential kickback). Anyway, I will try to post a full Answer for you later when I have more time, if someone does not add one before then.
    – Graphus
    Jan 31 at 14:58
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    @MartinDrozdik Probably the best way to feel safer using your saw is to learn from someone with more experience. Try to connect with other woodworkers in your area -- woodworking clubs are an excellent resource for that kind of thing. Shops that sell woodworking supplies and nearby schools might also offer classes.
    – Caleb
    Jan 31 at 20:00

2 Answers 2

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Is there a better solution?

This is one of those cases where it makes more sense to use the rip fence. Your jig essentially re-creates a rip fence on your sliding table, but yours is set up so that the workpiece is fixed to the fence and the whole assembly moves over the blade. The problem of how to hold the workpiece goes away if you use the existing fixed rip fence; the workpiece is supported by the fence, and you slide the workpiece along the fence.

There's a list of tips for doing that safely in my answer to Is it safe to resew on a table saw?.

If you were to continue using the jig you've built (I don't recommend that), you should, at the very least, add a cleat along the back edge. A large component of the force the blade exerts on the piece will be horizontal, pushing the workpiece backward toward you, the user. As is, the only thing resisting that force is the saw blade that holds the bottom of the workpiece. Adding a cleat at the back will at least resist that force and prevent the saw from firing the workpiece back at you.

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A friend told me that I have to use a bandsaw for this task but what if you only have a table saw?

Bandsawing has become the go-to method for resawing in modern times, and purpose-made blades are available for resawing. The bandsaw offers numerous advantages for the task: pressure is downwards, into the table, so there's no chance of kickback throwing the wood at the operator; cut depth can be large to very large; the kerf of bandsaw blades is significantly narrower than that of most rotary saw blades so you waste less wood1.

But not everyone has a bandsaw of course and those who own a table saw will eventually consider doing it on that. As a result there is a lot of guidance to be found online on resawing on the table saw.

Here are what I consider the basics in bullet-point form:

  • Resawing is a rip cut and as such a rip blade is most appropriate on paper, but admittedly many people just use their general-purpose blade they use for just about every task. Thin-kerf blades will offer significantly less resistance when resawing thick and/or hard stock on lower-power table saws.

  • Let the saw do the work. Don't force the wood through the saw, especially on deeper cuts and/or with harder species, just let the saw cut at its own pace. Sawing at a measured pace means you may inevitably leave some burn marks on one or both of the final boards, but the sawn surfaces need a fair amount of cleanup anyway so you're not adding unnecessarily to the post-sawing workload if slowing down yields more burns.

  • Use your riving knife or splitter. If your saw doesn't have one, make one (see below).

  • Vital to use a zero-clearance insert if sawing thin stock. If your saw doesn't have one, make one! If your saw doesn't have an in-built splitter take the opportunity to add one.

  • Use a tall fence; fit an auxiliary board to your existing fence if necessary. The fence does not have to be taller than the stock being sawn, but it should be tall enough that it provides good registration for the height of the board upright on its edge.

  • Use one or more featherboards or other pressure devices to keep the stock against the fence, helping to yield an even cut. This can be as simple as a board clamped to the bed of the saw as long as you make sure it doesn't pinch the workpiece on the exit side.

  • Before you resaw it's important to prep your wood. Ideally all wood to be resawn should be four-squared already. And it's often said that the wood being processed must be all the same thickness, but while this is desirable it isn't absolutely necessary — one face is run against the fence even with boards too wide to split with a single pass, so it is the spacing from fence to blade which ensures the keeper piece will be a consistent thickness, regardless of the thickness of the starting boards (just remember that adjustment of pressure devices might be needed from one board to the next).

  • Use push sticks or push blocks to control the board and provide downward pressure on the stock as it passes over the blade.

To echo a point made above in the Comments, you'll have no difficulty finding people resawing on the table saw who aren't following some or many these guidelines :-(

Some links for further info and to see the process in action.

Resawing at the Tablesaw; It’s often the perfect tool for the job on Woodcraft Magazine's site (PDF).
Use your table saw instead of resawing with your bandsaw on WWGOA website.
Resawing on the Table Saw from Tage Frid Teaches Woodworking, vol 1.

On YouTube:
Safest way to Resaw on a Tablesaw by A Canadian Woodworker.
Resawing On Your SawStop Table Saw from SawStop.

Honourable mention for resawing by hand, at least sometimes
As most guides show, if your board is too wide you need to saw through the 'web' in between the two saw channels. Although paradoxically some use a bandsaw for this the standard way this is shown is to cut it with a hand saw. This gives an entre to doing the whole task manually — with a suitable saw2 it isn't so much effort that you should dismiss doing it that way, except in very hard wood and very wide boards.

Being able to resaw by hand is a useful skill to have for when the table saw it out of action, the power is out and you need to get the job done or you're somewhere where there isn't any electricity. Or maybe you just need to do it quietly so as not to wake the neighbours or family!

See page in Tage Frid's book immediately above the one linked to above for some starter advice on doing this. There is now lots of guidance on this online now with the resurgence in interest in hand-tool woodworking for further tips and tricks if interested.


1 This may not seem that important if splitting e.g. an 8/4 (50mm) board into two and you're happy to get two 3/4" (18mm) boards out of it, but it can be a vital consideration when starting with thin stock and you want the final pieces to be as thick as possible.

2 A Continental frame saw is arguably the best tool for the job, although it can be done with efficiency and accuracy with a traditional English or American rip saw with a low tooth count. Although not made specifically for ripping one of the better modern panel saws with impulse-hardened teeth (e.g the Predators from S&J) can do the job reasonably efficiently and are far easier to acquire, plus they come ready to use and super-sharp.

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