How to rip rough lumber straight?

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Forum topic by lumbermaker posted 02-06-2008 10:34 PM 41190 views 6 times favorited 27 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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3 posts in 3999 days

02-06-2008 10:34 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question lumber

Hello, forum. I have a couple of thousand board feet of native lumber. It has been stripped and stacked in a barn for about four years and I also have use of a dehumidifier kiln. I’ve taken my time when drying the lumber and for the most part haven’t run into any major problems. My question is after the lumber is dry how do I put a straight edge on it? I want to know some of your thoughts on the most efficient way to accomplish this task. I’ve heard to chalk line it and run it through a table saw, but if I can make a simple profit I may do this for a supplemental income and don’t want to even think of running several thousand boardfeet through a table saw every year. I could have the bandsaw come back and straight edge them, at an additional cost, or I could manufacture some sort of rip saw.

I read oscorner’s blog on the “Woodmaster” 4-in-1 planer and wonder if he ever got around to trying the rip saw attachment. Does it work well? Does it pull the lumber through straight like a commercial rip saw or does the lumber curve? I guess I could try it out, but I don’t want the headache if it’s not going to meet my needs.

I have access to a jointer, but haven’t bought a planer yet. My goal is to manufacture quality native lumber to sell to local craftsmen and hobbiest.

What are your thoughts?

-- A straighter board I've never seen, than the one last night in my dream.

27 replies so far

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 4225 days

#1 posted 02-06-2008 10:54 PM

That much lumber I would find a local mill to do it. I have one that will surface two sides and straight line
rip rough lumber for less than 10 cents a foot.

Something to think about.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View lumbermaker's profile


3 posts in 3999 days

#2 posted 02-06-2008 11:11 PM

Thanks for the speedy reply. That would probably make the most sense. I have a mill that would work and it’s less than 20 miles away, I’ll give them a call. I just started processing some of the wood I ran through the kiln and noticed that I lost an eight of an inch due to shrinkage. I was wondering what thickness would be acceptable to woodworkers after I’ve finished joining and planning? I started out at a true 1 inch thickness. No big deal on this first batch as I can use it myself and figured there would be a learning curve.

It also has occurred to me that next time I may want to shorten the length of the lumber prior to stacking so I could move it myself with a lot less effort. What would you say is the most desirable length you use?

-- A straighter board I've never seen, than the one last night in my dream.

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 4059 days

#3 posted 02-06-2008 11:49 PM

With that much lumber I agree with Gary. If you had a smaller amount then here are a couple methods that you could use:

(1) snap a chalk line and use a circular saw to rough cut it
(2) make a sled from plywood and clamp the rough lumber to it leaving one edge of the plywood to register against the rip fence of your table saw.

Normally for rough lumber you would aim for a dry thickness of about 1 1/8” to allow for surface jointing and planing to finished size.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 4225 days

#4 posted 02-07-2008 12:01 AM

Six foot would probably be the longest piece anyone would use for furniture, but there are exceptions.
Anything longer than 10 feet get hard for one person to handle, but not impossible.

3/4 inch is about the standard for thickness.

Hope this helps.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1520 posts in 4362 days

#5 posted 02-07-2008 12:09 AM

If you decide to put a straight-edge on it yourself, Festool is the original, but lots of other people now are manufacturing plunge saws with rails. As long as you can set up the rail without twist, it’s a great way to put a straight edge on just about anything.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

View lumbermaker's profile


3 posts in 3999 days

#6 posted 02-08-2008 01:58 AM

I’ve read a few articles/blogs by fellows that set up their own rail system and I’ve heard of the plywood sled for the table saw, so I guess it’s just a matter of making up my mind of whether I want to do this job myself or get it done at the mill. (Buying my own edger is only going to happen when the Wife sells the house and moves into the barn-so never.) The only thing (besides cost) that might sway me is whether the mill is timely in doing my job or if I have to wait a considerable time. It looks like the only way to settle this is to run a batch through them and see what happens.

Thanks again for all of your input and if you run across any articles/blogs on the subject of processing trees to useable lumber I’d appreciate a line.

Mike Keller

-- A straighter board I've never seen, than the one last night in my dream.

View TackDriver's profile


10 posts in 3998 days

#7 posted 02-11-2008 12:19 AM

I do almost everything from rough lumber (usually “rough” as in tree form…....”). I thickness plane first to desired thickness and then the pieces with a fairly straightedge (eyeball method) go thru the jointer. Questionable ones go to the table saw with an extra long straight fence and are methodically “straightened” by cutting one side and then the other. With a bit of practice, it goes fairly well. If the piece is way out of “straight”, most times I will cut it in half, or in the middle of the biggest bend, and reduce the amount of material I need to remove to get a straight edge on it.

A lot of people call me crazy, or that my methods don’t work…... but I’ve salvaged a lot of material that mills and yards were gonna throw away because of warping and twisting issues.

View Suz's profile


51 posts in 3994 days

#8 posted 02-12-2008 09:13 PM

Okay, I’ve got a Woodmaster 712 that includes a gang saw. You will not be able to straight line rip with it if the lumber has quite a curve to it. In fact when I gang rip I have to hold the wood tight to the guide or it will wander. The gang saw is more to cut your stock to exactly the same width for when you want to run it through the molding knives.
What I made up is a 16 and an 8 foot straight edge made out of several of these aluminum straight edges that you can get from a BORG. I ripped some 1/4 inch plywood into 8 inch wide by 8 foot long pieces. I then laminated the plywood together to get a 8×1/2×16’ strip of plywood. Then I put the aluminum straight edges down straight by using a string stretched the whole length as a guide to make sure everything was indeed straight for the whole length of the 16’. When this was completed I made a saddle for my circle saw so it would glide along the straight edge and not wander in or out. I then mounted an expensive rip blade on the saw and made a rip down the length of the plywood. By doing that I have a nice straight edge that I can lay on the lumber and just guide the saw along.
What is nice about this setup is that it’s light and easy to handle unlike trying to set up a 16 foot long jig plus a hunk of 12 inch wide by 16’ long piece of red oak and try to run it through the table saw. (I also use the 8’ edge to rip panel goods. I still want to make 5’ one for panels.)
After I have this one straight edge then I can run the lumber through the Woodmaster’s gang saw setup.
in my opinion there would be no way would I haul all the lumber down to a sawmill to have them hash it all up. I don’t think they will take the time nor the care to get the maximum amount of lumber from your board.
If interested I can post some pictures of my guides.

-- Jim

View Raudolph's profile


1 post in 3968 days

#9 posted 03-09-2008 05:42 PM

Jim…I’d be very interested in seeing the pictures of your guides. I have a Woodmaster 718, and the gang rip saw works great…once you have a straight egde. Your straight edge guide seems like the ticket for running 16’ molding blanks.



View Suz's profile


51 posts in 3994 days

#10 posted 03-09-2008 08:00 PM

OK Pat, remember you asked for it. My jig isn’t fancy, but it works great.
This first picture is an overall view of the laminated 1/4” plywood that I made into a 8’ x 8” x 1/2 strip of plywood. I’ve got another that is 16’ x 8” x 1/2” for ripping 16’ stuff. When I mounted the 16’ long strip I stretched a string along the edge of the aluminum straight edge to make sure the straightedge didn’t have any curves in it. Also, those aluminum straight edges are about 8 foot 4 so you end up with a nice overhang on the straight edge.
This picture shows the “saddle” that I made to hold my circle saw which slides along the straight edge that will prevent the saw from wandering away from the straight line.
This shows how I adjust the edge of the jig to be exactly where I want to make the cut. I can adjust the edge to cut exactly where I want to trim the lumber.
As you can see by this photo I can take off a pretty thin strip off the edge without having the saw wander in or out. All I have to do is walk along and make sure I don’t cut my cord! I find that this method is so much faster and easier than trying to setup the table saw to make a straight line rip on a 16’ long board!
When I cut my 16’ stock I just put my 2 8’ long in-feed/out-feed tables end to end, lay a hunk of styrofoam on the tables. set the lumber on the styrofoam, the jig adjusted to the edge I want to cut and make some wood dust! The 16’ jig is heavy enough that it doesn’t slide on the planed lumber, but if it does I just slip some of this nonslip shelf liner under the jig.

-- Jim

View brunob's profile


2277 posts in 4407 days

#11 posted 03-09-2008 09:06 PM

I too agree withGary. I’d have the mill do it. If I was doing it myself, I’d joint one edge first then the 90o surface. Then plane the paralell side and then use the table saw for the last edge.

-- Bruce from Central New, if you'll pardon me, I have some sawdust to make.

View 8iowa's profile


1591 posts in 3998 days

#12 posted 03-09-2008 09:06 PM

I have 1500 board feet of white pine in the loft of my workshop. most boards are 4/4 and 8’ long. they were cut on a Woodmaster and many do not have straight edges. I scribe a straight line along the edge and cut along it using my bandsaw. With a wide blade, it is remarkable just how straight a line I can cut. I then finish it up on the table saw or jointer. It’s a simple solution – but it works for me.

Now if only the snow will melt U.P. there.

-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"

View jeffthewoodwacker's profile


603 posts in 4041 days

#13 posted 03-10-2008 02:40 AM

I would go with a 1 1/8 inch thickness and let a mill do the straight ripping. I buy most of my lumber completely rough and do the straight line ripping and planing myself. If you are reselling you might want to consider seeing if there is a market for the wood in rough form.

-- Those that say it can't be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6866 posts in 4217 days

#14 posted 01-09-2011 05:17 PM

Hi everyone;

I know this is an old thread, but felt the need to chime in, just in case it comes around again.

Ripping rough lumber is very fast and quite easy to do. In our shop we run it through the table saw, on a rip sled. You end up with a perfectly straight edge in about the same time as it take to run it through the saw. And it’s safe.

We keep two in the shop. One that’s 49” long, and one that’s 96” long. Between those two sizes, we can handle ant length board we would normaly have to rip.

Here’s a link to my woodworking tips website, which has a free plan on making them:

You can really save yourself a lot of time and effort using this method.


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 3885 days

#15 posted 01-09-2011 08:42 PM

With that much footage, you’ll get real tired if you try to use a handheld
tool with a guide system. I’d set up a sled system like Lee refers to –
even a dedicated table saw. You one need about a 12” rip capacity and
no tilt so you can put the saw against a wall, but you do need a lot of
support for the infeed and outfeed. If you’re doing this a lot you’ll look
at getting a power feeder. A 2hp or bigger motor on the saw – but a
contractor’s saw will do or even an old, heavy tilt-top saw (those old saws
were made for ripping solid wood).

Personally, I would probably built a saw with a 20’ long angle iron fence and
set up the table saw itself so it slides in and out in relation to the fence.

Another good way to do it is with a big ol’ radial arm saw set up for ripping
with a 20’ long fence and a power feeder. Same idea, but the blade is on

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