Thinner Than 3/4 Stock

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Forum topic by Beeguy posted 10-20-2010 07:36 PM 4159 views 0 times favorited 18 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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179 posts in 3630 days

10-20-2010 07:36 PM

Topic tags/keywords: wood thickness

This may fall into the dumb question category but I am really interested to hear what you all think. There is a lot of woodworking done with less than 3/4 inch solid stock. It seems to me there is really only two ways of getting there. Resaw or plane down. Resawing seems like a lot of work if you need more than just a few pieces. To plane away all that wood seems like a waste of material and time. The mills I get my lumber only cut down to 4/4 and at one of them they usually cut hardwood a little thicker. Not a full 5/4 but close. When I asked about thinner stock they said they don’t get any requests for it. At the one mill I can have them cut a few for me as a special order but that would take awhile.

If you ever go into country shops and see some of the reproduction pine stuff they all seem to carry, drawers are always made out of 3/4 stock, even small ones. I never liked that look and prefer something thinner for drawer sides. I am thinking for the builder is was just easier to use commonly available 3/4 wood.

I am not against resawing or using the planer, but with all the use of this wood I would think there should be a better way. Am I strange (ok I know I am) for thinking about this, or have I just missed out on the best kept woodworking secret?

-- Ron, Kutztown, PA "The reward is in the journey."

18 replies so far

View CharlieM1958's profile


16274 posts in 4212 days

#1 posted 10-20-2010 07:42 PM

I use a lot of 1/2” stock, so I have had the same thoughts.

The major reason I can come up with why the mills don’t produce anything thinner than 4/4 is twofold:

a) lack of strong demand
b) the more slices they cut out of a log, the more material they are throwing away in sawdust from the kerfs.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View DaddyZ's profile


2475 posts in 3034 days

#2 posted 10-20-2010 07:44 PM

You don’t have a boardstretcher do you ?

Sorry couldn’t help it.

Resawing & or Planing are the only 2 ways I know of.

Some specialty stores(woodcraft) carry some thinner Boards not Many Though

-- Pat - Worker of Wood, Collector of Tools, Father of one

View ajosephg's profile


1880 posts in 3555 days

#3 posted 10-20-2010 07:49 PM

Up to now I just grit my teeth and plane it down. Someday I’ll get around to making a fence to resaw it on the band saw.

-- Joe

View dbray45's profile


3320 posts in 2770 days

#4 posted 10-20-2010 08:19 PM

If you get 5/4 stock that is straight and true, you should be able to resaw to twin 1/2” pieces. I would pick the best that you find, plane and joint first, then resaw one 1/2” and the other piece should yeild a 1/2” or 3/8” piece. You should get a better value for your money. I make a bunch of things with the 1/2 and 3/8 finished stock.

If the stock is cupped after you let it aclimate (when I aclimate my stock I continue to dry it to 2-3% MC), rip it in half or thirds before you plane it, you will get a much better yeild and is easier to resaw. As a rule, the larger the piece the more the waste to clean it up. This is a good part in why the large companies use small pieces and glue them up. My kitchen counters have 7” to 9” x 1 1\2” thick cherry boards but I had to use 8/4 boards to do it. If I had ripped them to 2” wide pieces, I would have yeilded 1 7/8” thickness – but then again, who has cherry counters with 7, 8 , and 9” wide boards?

-- David in Damascus, MD

View TheDane's profile


5423 posts in 3657 days

#5 posted 10-20-2010 09:14 PM

A millwork shop I do some business with sells maple in 5/8” thickness (approx 62” in length).

They actually mill it for the drawers they make for their own cabinets, but offer it for sale to the public as well.

I bought it for some drawers in a project I am making now … reduces the waste, and still gives you some latitude for planing and planing.

AFAIK, maple is the only species they offer in 5/8” thickness.

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2137 posts in 3102 days

#6 posted 10-20-2010 09:22 PM

One of the pleasant but aggravating side effects of being a woodworker is the concern for wasted wood. I know very few who do not have a pet peeve in this area and don’t try to come up with some work around. I do not have resaw capabilities right now and my biggest peeve is the 1 3/4 inch thick measurements in some plans for legs. I can get 2x stock or 3x stock. If I have 3x stock, I have to plane down at least a full 1x width of wasted wood. Flattened, 3x is 2 1/2 inches thick. That means a perfect 3/4s is going to sawdust. I can’t use 2x, because it is nearly impossible to only have to shave 1/8th inches on each side of the board to be flat. You would have to be extremely lucky in order to not lose close to 1/4 per side.


-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View Dan's profile


3630 posts in 2874 days

#7 posted 10-20-2010 09:52 PM

I build a lot of smaller items like boxes and I like to use wood thats about 1/2in. I don’t have a band saw or planer in my shop yet. What I do is cut the thicker boards down to smaller size or size I need and then re-saw it on my table saw. My table saw can handle re-sawing of smaller boards just fine. I have done up to a few feet long I think. I cut with two or more passes and flip the board each time. A lot of times I am left with very thin scraps that I hang on to and use for other things. In my opinion I would rather have thin scraps then a bunch of saw dust.

-- Dan - "Collector of Hand Planes"

View SnowyRiver's profile


51457 posts in 3474 days

#8 posted 10-20-2010 11:33 PM

I feel the same way. I hate to take good wood and turn it into sawdust just to get a thinner piece, but I dont know of any other way to do it. At the lumber company that I go to, you can buy hardwoods at 3/4 thickness and then you would have less to plane, but they have planned it themselves, so in theory its still wasted, and its more expensive than the rough cut so I just do it myself.

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3068 days

#9 posted 10-21-2010 01:08 AM

It’s been my experience that resawing with a small, low powered, bandsaw can be a slow and tedious process. I can easily understand why come people want to avoid resawing.

A couple of years ago I bought an 18” bandsaw that could easily be labeled “a resawing machine”. It’s a bandsaw that was built with resawing in mind.

For me, resawing is a relatively easy thing to do.

As an FYI, I kept my small bandsaw and use it often for smaller projects. The bigger saw is essentially a dedicated resaw saw.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View dbray45's profile


3320 posts in 2770 days

#10 posted 10-21-2010 01:45 PM

You know, you don’t require a bandsaw to resaw lumber. When I was in Williamsburg, I watched one of the furniture people resaw a 6” x 3’ piece of mahogany (they have some really pretty wood) in to 1/4” slices with a hand saw. If the saw is sharp and tuned, well he was through it in a few minutes and didn’t need planing afterward. But then again, he was making a harpsichord and had the time to do it. I have to admit, since I watched him do this, as nice as my bandsaw slices, there are times I use my handsaws as a choice but then again, I do this for the excercise as well. If time were an issue I might use the power tools.

-- David in Damascus, MD

View SC_Galoot's profile


30 posts in 3876 days

#11 posted 10-21-2010 03:12 PM

I’ve tried resawing a board using my rip-set handsaw. It started off ok but my lack of skill and lack of practice allowed the saw to wander and I ended up cutting off of my marked line which basically ruined the board. Oops. I need more practice. As far as getting thinner stock is concerned… I’m in the same boat as everyone else. I just have to accept the lost wood as a cost of getting the size I want. I don’t have an option to buy less than 4 quarter stock in my area – that I know of.

View Beeguy's profile


179 posts in 3630 days

#12 posted 10-21-2010 03:43 PM

Thanks for all the replys. I am glad to see I am not the only one with this point of view. I have used all the above methods, planer, band saw and table saw. Sounds like Rich has a great set up with his 18 in. “resaw”. I have a 14” band saw and would rather use the table saw for long, wide boards.

I have two different mills I deal with. One just cuts and dries the lumber, but their prices are excellent. They pretty much only offer what they actually timber locally but that is not a problem because I prefer to work with locally obtained wood, and Pennsylvania has a lot to choose from. The other mill is larger and offers many milling services, but as Wayne mentioned, they still just plane down the wood which does not eliminate the waste. They don’t charge a lot extra for this and sometimes if I just have a few boards I will let them surface one side which saves me time. Most of the time I will have them straight cut one edge. This is a real time saver and occasionally when they do this if too much comes off as waste they will reduce the price of the board. Sometimes the nicest looking ones are not always the straightest.

Well it looks like if we want to work with other than standard thickness we have work to do and we will generate a lot of sawdust. Not being one to waste anything, I do find uses for sawdust. Maybe that could be another topic if it has not already been discussed.

I am still limping around in a cast and have not been in the shop in a month and won’t be for a few more weeks. I really appreciate this community as I can still get my woodworking “fix”. Unfortunatly my skills are not even close most of you that post regularly so I am more of a reader than writer. I get way more than I give but hopefully some day, with the help I get here, that will change.

-- Ron, Kutztown, PA "The reward is in the journey."

View dbray45's profile


3320 posts in 2770 days

#13 posted 10-21-2010 04:08 PM

SC—- If the saw consistantly goes to one side the set of the teeth may be off and not your fault.

-- David in Damascus, MD

View SC_Galoot's profile


30 posts in 3876 days

#14 posted 10-22-2010 06:13 AM

Dbray – I admit I hadn’t thought of that. I’ll take a closer look at my saw. Thanks. I was gonna blame it on the fact that the moons of Saturn were out of alignment… that is usually my go-to excuse. :)

View dbray45's profile


3320 posts in 2770 days

#15 posted 10-22-2010 01:50 PM

It only takes one or two teeth and the saw will cut in a nice arch. Really frustrating.

-- David in Damascus, MD

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