How to Get Massive Slab to more Manageable Sizes

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Forum topic by Chris208 posted 06-11-2012 07:44 PM 1448 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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239 posts in 2264 days

06-11-2012 07:44 PM

Hi, I have the opportunity to by a very large slab (16/4 X 30” X 14’) of soft maple for about $1 a board foot.

This is a good deal, but how do I get the wood to more manageable sizes?

I have a 14 inch bandsaw, a 1.75 HP Contractor table saw, skil saw.

What are my options? Also, how much will this slab weigh, approxamately?

13 replies so far

View Don W's profile

Don W

18707 posts in 2561 days

#1 posted 06-11-2012 08:27 PM

you could find someone in your area who has a bandsaw mill and have it resawn. It sounds like a mega bench top to me.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View BigYin's profile


416 posts in 2410 days

#2 posted 06-11-2012 08:35 PM

Don is right … Make a beautiful bench :-}

-- ... Never Apologise For Being Right ...

View Ted's profile


2845 posts in 2205 days

#3 posted 06-11-2012 08:36 PM

Take a chain saw to it.

-- You can collect dust or you can make dust. I choose to make it.

View bondogaposis's profile


4718 posts in 2345 days

#4 posted 06-11-2012 09:40 PM

A lot depends how you want to cut it and for what purpose. I’m not liking your selection of tools for this task. I’d say hand saw or chain saw if you are going to rip it narrower.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View Dusty56's profile


11819 posts in 3682 days

#5 posted 06-11-2012 11:15 PM

Chances are you’ll never use it in its 14’ length , so that’s your starting point.
Fire up that chainsaw and cut it down to a length(s) that you will most likely use or at least can handle by yourself and store it until your future projects appear in your dreams….If you cut it too small now , you may kick yourself in the future.. this will give you time to make friends with , or locate someone , to mill it to your needs.
You didn’t say if the Maple was figured or not , but that would also be a deciding factor as to where I made my initial cut.

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

View Scsmith42's profile


125 posts in 2671 days

#6 posted 06-11-2012 11:18 PM

Chris, that slab will contain approximately 140 board feet and weigh between 500 – 800 lbs, depending upon its moisture content.

As far as cutting it down into more “manageable” sizes, the first thing to do would be to reduce its length. If you cut it in half lengthwise, you’d have a couple of 250 – 400 lbs slabs 7’ in length.

Beyond cutting to length with a chainsaw, your best bet for processing into smaller pieces is to take it to someone with a sawmill.

The problem that you’re going to have is that a 4” thick slab will probably have significant differences in moisture content between its surface and core. As it gets milled into thinner boards, most likely they will cup due to differences in MC% between the faces.

If I were you, I would seriously consider using that slab for a Roubo style workbench, or selling it to someone for this same purpose and using the proceeds to purchase lumber more suitable for your needs. If you use it for a workbench, don’t cut it down in length until you know what the bench dimensions will be.

-- Scott, North Carolina,

View davidroberts's profile


1027 posts in 3480 days

#7 posted 06-11-2012 11:42 PM

I don’t work a lot of soft maple, but most hardwoods of that dimension are expensive and not so easy to come by that cheap, at least a similar type timber of that size, for the average amateur woodworker like me. Once you make a cut, there is no going back. So my advice is plan ahead and think carefully where and how you want to make the cuts. A bench, a dining table, a bed, set of chairs, heck a whole set of furniture!

For the family of soft maples assume an average density with ~15% moisture air dried at 34lb/ft3, times your timber at 11.55 cubic feet = call it 400 lbs. Less moisture = less weight.

Can you get it home in one piece? 400 lbs spread over 14’ is dead heavy, no doubt about it. However, it is much easier to make decisions when it is sitting safely on your property verses the sellers. If you can get it home, then you can probably take your time and shop around for a good sawer capable of making the rough cuts you want. Go for it, and good luck!

-- Better woodworking through old hand tools.

View Don W's profile

Don W

18707 posts in 2561 days

#8 posted 06-11-2012 11:57 PM

I’d really like to see a picture of it. A 30” piece is pretty much unheard of today.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View Chris208's profile


239 posts in 2264 days

#9 posted 06-12-2012 12:10 AM

Here are some pics of the slab.

View Don W's profile

Don W

18707 posts in 2561 days

#10 posted 06-12-2012 12:30 AM

this is where a picture is worth 1000 words. Its still a very nice piece of lumber but…...
You’ll need to think about what your going to do with it. First its not 30” wide, its almost 30” wide at the widest point, which means if you square it up, you’ll be a lot less.

Its also well under 16/4, which means if you have it sawn into 1” stock your only going to get 3 pieces. 3 pieces with wast you down to 80-100 bf. (at least one end is split, so you’ll loose some there to) Now your $1.50 per BF, which isn’t bad, but you’ve got the time and expense into milling it.

It would still make a damn nice benchtop for a minimal cost and a single glue joint.(or something similar)

For a live edge bench, counter top or table, its well worth it. I would just think seriously if your thinking of chopping it up in smaller pieces. It may not be the deal you thought it was.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View Chris208's profile


239 posts in 2264 days

#11 posted 06-12-2012 12:38 AM

Thanks to all of you for the info and advice. I think I’ll pass on this one.

View Dusty56's profile


11819 posts in 3682 days

#12 posted 06-12-2012 02:35 AM

$150 will buy you a lot of wood that you can actually use without the hassle of milling and storing it. The pictures don’t show anything spectacular about the Maple , and it is undersize from what is quoted in the ad.

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

View Nomad62's profile


726 posts in 2952 days

#13 posted 06-12-2012 03:38 PM

Looks like my take on it is somewhat different from the others. I’ve sawn silver leaf maple logs, it’s very nice wood. It is somewhat plain, but a log that big would still have a little figure to it. It is reasonably stable, and won’t really warp that much, adding to the sellers statement that it is flat; also stated is that the slab has been air dried for several years, indicating it should be dry enough to stay that way. Sure it is heavy, a person would want it that way; if it were light, it would be rotton. I say that is a great deal, tho I wouldn’t choose that wood first for a bench top as it is softer wood. It would make a great base tho, 2’ deep easy, and how many woodworkers have a bench that big? Maybe glue down a harder wood cover on top…

-- Power tools put us ahead of the monkeys

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