Resawing reclaimed lumber

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Forum topic by Fettler posted 12-07-2012 04:41 AM 2781 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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200 posts in 1996 days

12-07-2012 04:41 AM

Topic tags/keywords: reclaimed lumber wide resaw mdf sandwich

Hello, I recently acquired some 1.25” planks of what i thought was solid douglas fir reclaimed from stadium bleacher seats (probably from a public park or school baseball field). I cut the 16’ planks down into 8’ planks for easier transport using my mitre saw and took it home. After getting the wood unloaded i realized there is actually a 1/8” to 3/16” layer of MDF on the outside of the wood (see image).

The boards are varying width, but a minimum of 10” wide. My Dewalt (375) 13” planner can only take off 1/32” per pass so each board takes about 12-15 passes. This also generates a lot of waste material (maybe 10 gallons). With emptying garbage bags, setup time and numerous passes, planing ends up being a time consuming operation. Using handplanes was also equally time consuming. Ripping on the table saw into 2.5” planks and then running them over my 6” jointer seems to be the fastest.

Any suggestions for re-sawing? Would a typical bandsaw be able to handle stock this wide?

-- --Rob, Seattle, WA

6 replies so far

View Loren's profile


10396 posts in 3647 days

#1 posted 12-07-2012 05:39 AM

If you are physically able to do the work, an adze would be a good
way to get the MDF off. It will really dull your jointer and
planer blades, especially when you hit the glue line.

View Fettler's profile


200 posts in 1996 days

#2 posted 12-07-2012 07:56 AM

My jointer blades were starting to get dull before i started this whole operation but are now completely blunt. I’ll see if i can find an adze somewhere near me. Having never swung one i’m a bit worried about losing some toes =D

-- --Rob, Seattle, WA

View HorizontalMike's profile


7757 posts in 2913 days

#3 posted 12-07-2012 02:49 PM

Wow, this is really unfortunate. Thank you for sharing this though. This can be a good lesson for all of us. I didn’t realize the part about MDF dulling blades so fast.

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

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706 posts in 3272 days

#4 posted 12-07-2012 03:34 PM

Quite honestly, I’d recommend using your table saw. Set your fence up to just skin through the MDF layer. You will probably have to flip the piece over for a second pass since the seats are probably in the realm of 10 – 12 inches wide. Two passes should get you through. If you decide to first rip them into the 2-1/2” blanks, it will be that much easier.

I would be concerned about trying to plane through MDF. Since it is made up of sawdust (of varying quality and sources) and resins, that will be really hard on your planer blades. Saw blades can typically take rougher handling. And since that MDF is exterior grade, even more so.

A word of caution to you: check each seat VERY carefully. I once got a number of old bleacher seats (mine weren’t covered in MDF, thankfully) and one of them had a pattern of small nails or tacks driven into them! Apparently, a child was bored and had a hammer and bunch of nails and decided to leave a lasting memory in the bleachers! I’m glad that I had checked prior to running all that steel through my planer!


-- Dave; Lansing, Kansas

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20005 posts in 2682 days

#5 posted 12-07-2012 05:02 PM

Instead of 2-1/2” blanks, just a rip down the middle of the plank. It will take two passes, but a 10” tablesaw will rip to that depth ( done that with some Beech planks) and just set the fence to remove the glue lines, leaving bare wood. Once it is down to the “bare” essentials, panner, or plane smooth.

I have been doing a lot of Barn wood the last year or so. Mostly Beech/ white oak rafters. Some 6×6 beams as well. My only real problems were with nails. Any burn marks were easy to just hand plane off. As long as you have a way to keep the plank vertical going through the cut, should be fine. Who knows, maybe a use for the “sawdust wood” as a thin board? small drawer dividers?

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

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200 posts in 1996 days

#6 posted 12-16-2012 02:46 AM

I was just attempting table saw re-sawing, however it wasn’t as successful as i hoped. I used a piece of the board i’d previously planned as a fence, lathered on some paste wax, used my tenon jig as a makeshift featherboard and put a roller stand on the outfeed.

My 1st attempt was on a 11” wide plank. The max depth on my right-tilt Unisaw is ~3” which was no problem.

I then used a prying chisel i break off the pieces.

Then went to town with my foreplane:

Half-way through (still on side A), the plane iron started feeling dull. Inspect shows some pretty significant nicks.

Taking 3” off each side (6” total), the board would probably travel through the planer allot easier and the HSS blades would probably fair a little better than my old stanley #5 iron.

A local shop offered to run the boards I have through a 37” belt sander for $30, but i dont think they know what they’re in for. I’m probably just going to cut my losses and put that $30 towards a trip to the dump =)

-- --Rob, Seattle, WA

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