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Efficient setup for taking stock to thin thicknesses

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Forum topic by Jack_Isidore posted 04-22-2012 04:31 PM 2275 views 0 times favorited 25 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Jack_Isidore

89 posts in 1519 days


04-22-2012 04:31 PM

I would like to take raw lumber stock to thicknesses in the range of .045-.050” (or just over 1 mm). The boards are about 4.5” wide by 24” in length, but the length could be reduced is it makes the process much easier.

I realize my first step will be a bandsaw with a resawing blade to take it close. How close can you get it with one of these blades typically? In my mind, it will have a lot of variation in it that will need to be sanded out. Any suggestions on model/power needed for this application?

The second and maybe most important aspect is the secondary sanding process to take it to final thickness and give it a good surface finish. I would imagine that ideally I would use a wide belt sander, but those are $$$, and I am trying to stay around a few thousand dollars for this setup if at all possible. I had originally tried a Supermax drum sander, but the paper would quickly clog up and the boards would start warping due to the heat buildup (I was working with domestic and some oily exotics). I was also trying to sand down 1/8” and 1/16” boards I had just bought from Woodcraft, so maybe if I’m working with boards closer to the final thickness that I resawed myself, it won’t be as much of an issue?

I realize part of the problem here is trying to put such thin material through these machines. Maybe I need to come up with a jig to send it through the drum sander that raises it up off the conveyer belt?

Should I consider a stroke sander instead of drum/wide-belt? Would it be difficult to get relatively consistent thickness across the board?

Any ideas or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.


25 replies so far

View dhazelton's profile

dhazelton

1200 posts in 963 days


#1 posted 04-22-2012 06:10 PM

I would talk to someone who makes guitars as they probably have all that worked out. Grizzly sells a lot of equipment targeted to that market, I’d look at their site.

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Dusty56

11660 posts in 2354 days


#2 posted 04-22-2012 06:19 PM

Have you tried jointing one face , bandsaw slightly thicker than needed and then using a card scraper to get rid of bandsaw marks ?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fpuYcl3e-ic&feature=fvwrel

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

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Jack_Isidore

89 posts in 1519 days


#3 posted 04-22-2012 06:46 PM

Hzelton, what makes you think about guitar manufacturers? I can’t think of what component would be similar to these specs. I’ve looked at Grizzly’s site, but it’s one thing to just look at the equipment and imagine in my head if it could do the job well, versus someone who has actually experienced multiple machines/processes and can point me in the right direction.

Dusty, I haven’t done that. I don’t have access to a wood shop anymore, so whatever solution I come up with will mean purchasing that equipment, including a jointer if needed. Off the top of my head, that seems like a lot of work to scrape the bandsaw marks off. To be honest, I hate using a cabinet scraper because I always end up getting too agressive and my hands hurt so much after. Also, for this application it seems less than ideal because it will be a production deal and I want to minimize the amount of time and effort I have to put into each step.

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Dusty56

11660 posts in 2354 days


#4 posted 04-22-2012 07:38 PM

My suggestion was in response to the information given in the original post.
You didn’t mention that you were trying to mass produce these thin pieces of wood.
Trying to sand oily woods without clogging the grit , especially the finer grits , is virtually impossible , hence the card scraper thoughts. You don’t mention if you need both sides to be perfectly finished in the end , only that you want to reduce the thickness. My next attempt would be using a Sand-Flee , but that might also be too labor intensive for your needs. Sorry.

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

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Tomj

204 posts in 1048 days


#5 posted 04-22-2012 08:57 PM

A good drum sander which I’m sure you already know this. Depending on the width you would be working with you could make one. I say this because I know bowyers (bow builders) work with these specs all the time when building laminated bows but the width is never any wider than about 2”. I myself built a jig I could slide under my belt sander (while it is in the vertical position) so to sand my own laminations. Honestly, I don’t like it, it’s too finicky and I will buying a drum sander soon or building a more stable and accurate drum sander. So I’m saying if the width your going to be working with is not to wide you could put something together with just a spindle/drum sander on a drill press otherwise a drum sander with wider capabilities is needed. I have seen some bowyers happy with the Grizzly Babydrum sander but I’m curious myself what others here on lumberjocks prefer. Good luck with everything.

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dhazelton

1200 posts in 963 days


#6 posted 04-22-2012 09:58 PM

@Jack – you don’t think the face or back of an acoustic guitar is thinner than a dime?

You dismiss the first two comments to your post with a ‘you just don’t get it’ attitude. Why not make it easy on yourself and just buy veneer and let someone else absorb the cost? You can get veneers in multiple thicknesses and you won’t have to absorb the cost of waste from mistakes made by a steep learning curve or cheap equipment.

http://www.veneersupplies.com/

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SASmith

1597 posts in 1653 days


#7 posted 04-22-2012 10:30 PM

How wide do the .045” thick pieces need to be?
If it is just a few inches you could use this jig on a Ridgid OSS.
I have sanded strips less than 1/16” on my drum sanders with velcro sandpaper. I have never had heat or loading issues with velcro sandpaper on my drum sander.

-- Scott Smith, Southern Illinois

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Tomj

204 posts in 1048 days


#8 posted 04-22-2012 11:09 PM

SASsmith nice jig, you went the extra mile and made sure platen was flat on the sander. The type of jig I built works on spindle part of the belt sander, it’s a bit easier correct for flatness but I’m sure yours gets the job done and gets it done faster which is all that matters (that it gets the job done).

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Loren

7624 posts in 2314 days


#9 posted 04-22-2012 11:24 PM

A Hitachi resaw can make that cut. Runs a 3” wide blade.
Narrower blades on cheaper saws can make the cut too,
but the tolerances are so fine you’ll be constantly fussing
with setups unless you invest in a saw actually designed
for resaw applications.

A custom-made scraping machine perhaps. In the old days
luthiers would scrape purfling to thickness. I don’t remember
what the old tool is called. Your designed width is thin enough
to set it up with an oscillating drum sander and a fence,
hand feeding the work.

You didn’t specify what you are working to make and I
don’t want to pry into your business, but you are asking
for a really fine tolerance in wood, presumably hoping
for reasonable speed, economy of the machinery involved,
and a reject rate that doesn’t drive you crazy.

One solution would be to get the Hitachi or other robust
smaller resaw and farm out the thickness sanding to a
shop with a wide belt.

-- http://lawoodworking.com

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Jack_Isidore

89 posts in 1519 days


#10 posted 04-23-2012 12:29 AM

Hey Hazelton, I realize now my response sounded a little dismissive, but that wasn’t my intent at all. I was being an idiot (seriously, very stupid) and thought you were talking about electric guitars, in which case you can probably understand my confusion.

The reason I haven’t gone with veneers is because I tried but eventually gave up trying to find them in that thickness. .045” is pretty thick for veneers, especially exotics. That was my experience spending several hours/days looking for thicker veneers and speaking with a few companies. I would gladly just buy them at my desired thickness as I am currently doing with a few domestic species. Having said that, your link shows two-ply veneers, which I hadn’t found earlier, and are only 10 mil off of my desired thickness. That’s small enough I can probably just add a substrate to give myself the extra thickness.

Dusty, I didn’t mean to be dismissive of you either, and in retrospect I realize I left out that bit of crucial info that this is for a production application. I will look into the sand-flee, I haven’t heard of that. I realize there will simply be limitations due to the nature of the wood gumming up sand paper, I guess my hope is finding a resaw process that gets it close so I don’t have to remove too much material with a sander, and then using a sander that reduces how often I spend swapping out paper.

The pieces only need to be about 2.5” wide, what I am sourcing now happens to be wider, 4.5” to be exact. This extra width helps me sand the surface with a ROS before laser cutting the parts, although if I am sanding the material to thickness myself I can simply do the same with the finest grit I am using with the ROS.

I’ll look into the OSS (which I had never heard of) and resaws. I knew I would need a bandsaw that can accept a wide blade, but I wasn’t aware of bandsaws that were even more oriented to resawing.

Loren, the application is iPhone back panels. I posted a LJ project a few months ago of them http://lumberjocks.com/projects/57256 – The business has been doing very well, which is fortunate because I am soon to be laid off of my day job as a research engineer. I thought it would be much easier to offer exotic wood species, but having not found a local shop that can (or will) do this for me, I have had to limit myself to species I can source from a supplier. I will check again with them to verify they are unwilling or able to do special orders for exotics, but I have a vague recollection of a conversation with them months ago where they said they could not do this due to the same issues of loading up the drum sander that I had. (although they are using a wide belt sander I believe)

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Jack_Isidore

89 posts in 1519 days


#11 posted 04-23-2012 12:59 AM

Oh, I have heard of and used an OSS, I didn’t recognize it from that initialism.

This sand-flee is an interesting piece of equipment, I’m not sure how the work holding part of it works from their website but I’ll try to read up on it more.

Loren, I’m not pulling up many hits for the Hitachi resaws. Are they still sold in the US and if so happen to know of a distributor? Alternatively, who else makes machines in this class? I’m not having much luck finding other band saws that can take a 3” wide blade but maybe I’m looking in the wrong places? I can envision myself doing plenty of resawing in the future for other business projects, so I would rather not skimp on a smaller machine with narrower blades if it will make a substantial difference in performance.

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dhazelton

1200 posts in 963 days


#12 posted 04-23-2012 01:20 AM

Jack – no harm no foul. I seriously think you may be better off laminating a couple thicknesses of veneer together with a vacuum press, or even just some heavy weights as your final pieces are so small. You can use a lesser grade as the backup and you broaden your choice of species to your customers. Plus you eliminate almost all of your sanding. To resaw and sand/plane like that on a production basis will take a serious investment in equipment and time, but is assuredly do-able. The cheapest OSS that I know of that will last (has metal gears) is the JET. Stay away from the plastic Grizzly and Delta as they have nylon gears and won’t hold up for long. If there’s a Harbor Freight near you you can almost always find a coupon for their OSS in some of the woodworking magazines and get it for something crazy like $90, but buy the extended warranty because you will eventually need it. You can probably get exotic wood blanks from a place that sells bowl blanks for woodturners. Good luck.

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sandhill

2124 posts in 2590 days


#13 posted 04-23-2012 01:35 AM

Jet 10/20 16/32 or 22/44 any one will do what you want. The band saw should be able to take a 1” blade I got a used 16” Laguna for $690.00 I see used open end drum sanders used for around 5 to 8 hundred so realistically you can get both for around $1,500.00

-- Bob Egbert AKA Sandhill http://www.sandhillwoodworks.com/

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bent

311 posts in 2335 days


#14 posted 04-23-2012 01:52 AM

you can use a bandsaw to resaw boards to get it close. then take the resawn pieces and use double sided tape to stick it to a piece of mdf. you can then run the thin stock/mdf through a planer to get the saw marks out and get it to final thickness.

i’ve made accoustic guitars this way.

View Loren's profile (online now)

Loren

7624 posts in 2314 days


#15 posted 04-23-2012 02:17 AM

The Hitachi models are the CB75F and CB100F. They are
always available on ebay and Craigslist due to their specialized
applications, but maybe not near you.

I own an older pre-CB Hitachi resaw and while I haven’t used
it much, it resaws better in my opinion than a standard saw
running a 1/2” – 1” blade. There is beam strength at play
with the 3” wide blade. Many Hitachi’s were sold to luthiers
in N. America. In Japan they are a timber framing tool.

A fine modern European bandsaw with a 1” blade can make
the cut as well. The Euro saws have more power than
the Japanese resaw machines. Prices can be pretty high
but used saws are not hard to find considering all the affluent
hobbiests who buy high-end band saws.

-- http://lawoodworking.com

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