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I want to make some thin (1/4-3/8") panels out of hardwood rather than plywood. My panels will be up to 8" wide, so I may need to glue up two or three boards to get the width I need. I'm starting off with 3/4" thick material, so I'll need to resaw the boards in half at some point.

Should I glue up the panel first and then resaw it to the desired thickness, or resaw the individual boards first and then glue the thin boards together? Not sure exactly what wood I'll be using, but it will likely be maple, walnut, or cherry, if that affects the answer.

  • I would resaw first also because it's much easier to resaw narrower boards evenly than wider boards! Also, glueing together thin boards there are many established techniques you can adopt (many from luthier work) which ensure an absolutely perfect join. – Graphus Jan 24 '17 at 7:18
  • And, there you have it. Two equally well reasoned answers from two respected names here with 180° opposing views. You might try testing out resawing the narrower boards (maybe start with some scrap), just to get the hang of it/see how good your are, then take that into consideration as you evaluate the pros & cons listed by Ashlar & Ast Pace. – FreeMan Jan 24 '17 at 21:06
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I would resaw first. An 8" resaw is going to take lots of skill and luck to achieve. If the 8" board is only slightly out of plumb (an issue of skill) at any point during the cut, you will very likely end up with a place where the thickness goes below 1/4", necessitating a do-over. If you make a resaw on a 4" board, the effect of a bit of jiggle out of vertical would only be half of what would happen in the 8' cut.

Saw, thickness plane, then glue. Finally, sand or once again thickness plane to final dimension.

  • @mmathis This is the way to go, especially in light of your other question about jointing the pieces. – bpedit Jan 25 '17 at 21:55
  • I would add that planing/jointing/sanding can be easier on the small board depending on your equipment. eg I have a 6" benchtop jointer so I can resaw joint resaw so that I always have a good face. Not always necessary but helpful sometimes. Also, this all depends on your resaw capabilities. (I mean: "Can 8" be done in your shop?") – Dano0430 Jan 26 '17 at 18:30
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I would recommend gluing them up first. Even with good gluing platforms to hold the boards flat during glue up and a good clamping setup, there will always be a bit of unevenness. The amount of offset will be the same regardless of the thickness. If you resaw first you will have the same unevenness twice, doubling the waste that must be planed off for truly flat panels. In addition, if resawing in a bandsaw, the result is never perfect and more material will end up on one side than the other. When you take this into account along with the unevenness, planing, and sanding using 3/4" stock will barely be thick enough for 1/4" panels. If you want it any thicker, start with 4/4 stock. More margin for error means less do-overs.

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I would resaw first. Easer to resaw and you can some times get beautiful book matched panels. Although glue up will be a little harder.

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