I'm trying resawing for the first time on a cherry board.

It's just as difficult as everyone has mentioned, but I am following the advice I've found online and only sawing where I can see the line I have drawn.

The only saw I have with rip-cut teeth is an inexpensive Irwin pull-saw, which often binds/flexes excessively during the push stroke. Now that I have gotten a fair bit into the piece, I use a small wooden wedge at the end to prevent binding. however, as soon as I got as far into the board as the saw is wide, I noticed that my leading cut is wandering away from the line I drew and scribed on the side. (See pic)resaw cut wandering

If this were earlier in the cut, I would change my wrist angle a little bit to try to guide the body of the saw back onto the line, but since the body of the saw is now entirely captured by the board, I don't know how to get the saw back on track.

How can I recover from this deviation and have this cut come out as good as possible at this point? (And what should I have done initially to prevent it wandering?)



2 Answers 2


The basics in adjusting for drift are: identify it early, adjust quickly, and keep on monitoring closely.

Identify early
It's vitally important in any long cut (not only made with hand tools!) to spot early if you're drifting off your line.

Adjust quickly
This needs explaining. Because most guides have this tip most know you do this by flexing the blade slightly in the direction you want the saw to cut. But the mistake most inexperienced sawyers make — been there, have the T-shirt! — is to over adjust and then inevitably you end up doing this again and again, resulting in a wavy cut.

What you should do instead is flex the blade and then make just a few corrective strokes. If you're monitoring closely enough only two or three strokes can be enough. Thanks to Chris Schwarz I think for this tip.

Other common tips include:

Wax the blade well, and often

Rotate the workpiece more than once

Flip end for end at least once

And for your case:

Don't hold the board at this angle
This is an awkward angle to rip at, even with a Japanese saw where the dynamics can be a bit different. It's much better to have the workpiece upright (vertical) or at an angle (45° probably being ideal) and held in a vice or clamp arrangement that easily allows for release, repositioning and re-clamping, because you'll be doing this a lot! Seriously, resawing a board over about two feet you'll probably want to adjust position at least seven or eight times, maybe more.

And obviously:

This is obviously a duh but you say it's your first time trying resawing so don't be too hard on yourself, nobody should expect this to go perfectly the first few times.

I wouldn't even want to show a photo of my first resawing attempt (which was much less challenging than this) because the results were pretty dire! Like you I was using a saw not suited to the task, and didn't know all of the tips I suggest here. So the result was pretty horrible..... I got there in the end, but after planing the pieces were a lot thinner than I'd hoped! ^_^

Resawing is in fact so challenging that some experienced woodworkers either avoid doing it as much as possible, they don't do it at all or it was the final (or only!) reason they bought a bandsaw O_O

If you want to do this a lot...
By hand — you've probably already realised this but you could do with having a better saw. Nothing against Japanese-style saws, but topping the list of what I'd recommend would be a European frame saw, a la Tage Frid.

Not manually — invest in a bandsaw, and an aftermarket blade specifically tailored to this sort of cut. Even with a meh bandsaw a good blade can be transformational in how well it cuts (all cuts, but perhaps most any deep rips you want to make).

Wish I'd remembered this earlier, more on ripping in a previous Q&A, Why is resawing by hand so difficult compared to ripping/crosscutting?

  • 3
    +1 for frame saw, this really improved the process for me. They are very easy to build on your own with some scrap wood, and you also get Japanese blades for them if you want. Commented Aug 27, 2022 at 9:43
  • 2
    I would double down on saw choice as key to successful hand resawing. A framesaw is an excellent choice, but you also want to make sure the the blade is appropriate. A blade filed for ripping, and absolutely symmetrical in its sharpness and set is critical. On a deep cut like resawing, any difference in edge or set from one side to the other, is amplified, and will make a straight cut impossible. Commented Aug 27, 2022 at 14:19
  • @phipsgabler, a suitable blade is the stumbling block for a lot of would-be builders, it was for me. The frame is no obstacle for any somewhat experienced woodworker (and doable for ambitious newbies) but finding a suitable blade can be a major hurdle, and then the cost to get it into your hands can be a "Nope, no way." :-( buuut, totally worth it in the end — since none of us are ever going to wear one out it's a one-time-only purchase!
    – Graphus
    Commented Aug 27, 2022 at 17:07
  • @WalnutClose, yes and IIRC Tage Frid recommends filing only for rip anyway. Because the blade is kept so stiff apparently they crosscut very well..... found the reference, pp13-14 of Tage Frid Teaches Woodworking.
    – Graphus
    Commented Aug 27, 2022 at 17:08
  • 1
    @Mike, well when you're correcting like this the blade is supposed to bow. There are other tricks for getting the saw back on line including backing up and trying to force the saw to cut to a better line somewhere near the start of the deviation — this is shown well by the host of Wortheffort on YT in one of his vids teaching the basics of saw technique. I've had some success with this myself, but I think I haven't had to use it for a while as I've gotten better. Re. using a shim, from what I've seen most people doing something like this simply press their fingers against the sawplate.
    – Graphus
    Commented Aug 29, 2022 at 19:04

Everything what @Graphus said plus one other thing:

carefully make a shallow cut/groove (4mm / 1/8" deep should be enough) on all sides, then start cutting on corner (here you'll see how clamping at 45 deg angle helps) and keep cutting with an angle, than reposition and cut another corner, and another - the grooves will help guide the saw initially and then the straight corner cuts will guide the saw. This way, even a beginner can saw almost perfectly!

This is not strictly necessary, and when you gain enough experience, you'll probably do fine just with a pencil line - but until that time, this may help a bit.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.