How Do You Cut Thin Strips?
In my line of woodworking, I often must cut thin strips of wood, down to 1/16″ thickness.
These strips need to be absolutely uniform thickness and they need a perfect glue surface, as they are glued between wider boards and any defects are readily visible.
I have a system for doing this, but I am always on the lookout for improvements.
I’m just wondering how different people handle this task successfully.
Edited 12/20/2004 3:01 pm ET by Matthew Schenker
I occasionally have to make 1/8" x 1" strips and here's what I usually do:
I take a board about 6" wide and run the edges over the jointer. I then use these edges against the rip fence on the bandsaw and cut 2 strips slightly thicker than I need (one from each edge). Then I go back and joint the 2 edges again and repeat on the bandsaw.
When I have enough strips I run them through the planer to make them the perfect thickness.
It seems like alot of steps but I move the jointer next to the bandsaw to save walking across the shop. I also prefer the bandsaw instead of the tablesaw becasue I can get more strips out of one pice of lumber.
I'm interested to see what others come up with.
People of mediocre ability sometimes achieve outstanding success because they don't know when to quit.
I use the same process Richk1 mentioned above. But that gets you to 1/8" on any planer I know about. Taking the 1/8" strips down to 1/16" would require placing them on a carrier board and then through the planer. What is the length of the strips you're making?
Bill Arnold - Custom Woodcrafting
Food for Thought: The Ark was built by amateurs; the Titanic by professionals.
I'm happy to hear from you on this question!The strips I cut are usually no more than 30" long and under 2" high.Part of my technique is similar to your and Rich's. Here are all the steps I use:
1. Joint one edge.
2. Use the bandsaw to slice the pieces to about 1/8" thicker than final dimension, using the jointed edge as my reference.
3. I have a simple shop-made jig I use for this next step. It consists of a 48"-long piece of 2x2 poplar, jointed on one edge, and with non-slip substance on the surface. I use this jig to hold the strip uniformly against the fence while jointing. (I should add that I joint on the router table).The above system works very well for me, but lately I am doing many more projects that require very thin strips. It seems that people really like this element! So I am trying to figure out a way to do it with one less step. But maybe not!
Edited 12/20/2004 4:21 pm ET by Matthew Schenker
Bill,"Taking the 1/8" strips down to 1/16" would require placing them on a carrier board"Yep. I do that all the time. I just put a 3/4" particle board "filler board" just smaller than the planer bed on the bed. The filler/carrier board stays captive there and the rollers drive the thin strips through. They easily slip through on the board. I support them by hand as they come out.Rich
That's a different approach than I had envisioned. Much simpler than a carrier the full length of the strips.Bill Arnold - Custom Woodcrafting
Food for Thought: The Ark was built by amateurs; the Titanic by professionals.
Can't say I've ever done this deliberately, but I've seen a kinda shooting board that lets you do this handraulically; a bed with a dado wide enough to hold the stock snug across its shoulders, dado depth is equal to the desired finished thickness. The extended sides of the bed serve to limit how far down the plane can ride, while side cheeks guide the sides of the plane, kinda like a track. Joint a good edge, rip it off slightly oversized, drop it into the jig and plane till the shavings stop....repeat.....
Stay safe....Have fun
Mike -I was going to suggest the shooting board approach as well. I've never had much luck running really, really thin stuff through the planer (DeWalt 13" bench model). Most of the time they just come out as a bunch of splinters amid lots of anxious racket inside the machine.I coopered a small tea cady for a friend some time ago with strips of canary between walnut. The canary strips were about the thickness of plastic laminate. The only way I could approach this thickness was, as you describe, with a shooting board. Doesn't take that long, either and the final surface is far superior to machine cut............
From Beautiful Skagit Co. Wa.
I bet that caddy looks awesome Dennis.. Other than the plusses you outlined, I grew tired of always loosing stock through snipe... not to mention the hassle of dragging out / setting up the thicknesser and DC... As you said, there's no real time difference in the shoting board method.. and the peace... no motors, no grunching, no blockages.... just the gentle swish.... Them auld-timers knew a thing or two...Mike Wallace
Stay safe....Have fun
Check out 13764.13 . I posted some pics of my Shaker oval box making efforts.
I resaw using a carbide tipped blade on an 18" BS. Then I run the strips through a Delta DS.
Mike -I really didn't have a lot of strips to 'manufacture' plus I felt it was a good time to learn about shooting boards and the like. As it was, I think I went about it the wrong way, though.I took a good flat piece of plywood and contact cemented strips of plastic laminate spaced just a tad bit wider than the throat opening of my jack plane. On top of the laminate I secured two strips just the width of the plane so the edges of the plane rode on the plam with the iron 'hanging' down between the plam strips. This gave me a nice consistent thickness for the strips plus a nice hard relatively low friction surface for the plane to ride on.With the length of strips I was making and as thin as they were I had to clamp the back ends to prevent them from buckling in front of the plane. I think now that I've had a bit more experience with hand planing I'll be able to take lighter shavings and avoid the clamping.That was a fun project .... Time to think of making some more!...........
From Beautiful Skagit Co. Wa.
This may help. I did this project from Woodsmith # 119 10/1998. My memory is that I needed a zero clearance throat with a glued splitter for this to work right and to rip the pieces longer than needed.
I resaw as you have described and then use a carrier to put the thin strips through my drum sander, works like a champ, usually only taking one pass to take out the saw marks and bring it to a final thickness.
I'm getting 5 to 6 1/16" pieces from a 3/4" board.
This sounds interesting. If you can, would you mind explaining this a little more?Is this similar to what I'm describing with my router-table-as-jointer setup? I use a jointed back-board to hold the thin strip in place as I run it through the router table.Tell me more...
Have you ever considered contacting a veneer supplier?. 1/16" veneer is not uncommon.
Well, 1/16" is just one of the thicknesses I need. I run strips including 1/16, 3/32", 5/32", etc. Having veneer would only take care of one thickness. What I am looking for is a reliable way to cut thin strips of various thicknesses.
I do the same thing Dick does (reply #11). However, if you don't have a drum sander, you CAN do the final thicknessing with either a oscillating spindle sander or a drill press mounted sanding drum. Clamp a rounded single-point type fence to the sander spaced away from the drum the final thickness that you're after. Note - if you have to take off too much material, you'll want to make multiple passes with the fence moved closer each time. If you try to hog off too much with this method, it can grab/burn/stall. It's a heck of a lot more tedious than the drum sander, since you can really only do one strip at a time. This is what I used to do before I finally got a Performax but it will work if that's all you've got.
I've never owned a drum sander, so I am somewhat in the dark about them. Are they accurate enough to reliably thickness something down to 1/16" so that it can be glued up neatly in a table top, box, or cutting board? I guess what I'm wondering is whether they produce uniform thickness along the entire length of the strip. Even if it was off by .01" it would be noticeable in a finely done box.This sounds like the best way to go, if it works as you are saying. I can already see that I could use the bandsaw to resaw a piece 6" wide, sand it down to 1/16", then use that slice to create smaller 1/16" pieces.I suppose different drum sanders have different levels of accuracy. Which one do you use?
"Are they accurate enough to reliably thickness something down to 1/16"
Boy. That's a loaded question. I think so, although it's been a long time since I've pulled out micrometers to see if it's getting within the 0.01" tolerance you mentioned. Things like flatness in the conveyer belt, amount of downward hand pressure on the table as you feed it, etc., are going to affect the thickness. I've used it to create 1/16" inlays with excellent results, although I usually err on the side of not taking too much off, then taking 1-2 passes with a sharp block plane in any high spots to do the final fitting.
I'm sure there are other members here who'll swear with proper setup and carriers that they could get even better than 0.01" tolerance. I just personally haven't wanted to invest the hours involved to attain this.
I'm personally using a Performax 16-22 but there are other choices out there. Do a forum search for 'drum sanders'. I'm sure there are many posts out there that will give you some pros/cons of various models. The main reason I got mine was to do final thicknessing on tearout prone wood after planing and for thicknessing slices for bent laminations.
For a bent laminations, I haven't had much success bandsawing or table sawing my pieces anywhere close to my final dimension. However, I've used the "auxiliary" MDF table on a planer with excellent results to get my pieces to final dimension. With a couple of cleats to hold it in place on the planer bed, sealed with a coat of varnish then waxed, it provides a very flat stable base to plane material under the 3/16" or 1/8" limit of a planer. However, you have to choose your material carefully and feed it correctly as any runout or coarse grain gets grabbed by the blade blowing-up your thin piece of material. I got my laminations somewhere between an 3/32" and 1/8" (.095 on the dial caliper) and that worked just fine for what I wanted. I've gone as thin as 1/16".
While researching information on musical instrument construction, and at the suggestion of some of the members here, I checked-out the Musical Instrument Makers Forum at http://www.mimf.com. They suggest your method douglas...using a drill press or spindle sander with an auxiliary fence and feeding the material between the spinning drum and fence.
EDIT to correct the math error on my dial caliper reading!
Edited 12/21/2004 5:29 pm ET by YOTONYB
That reminds me. There's also something called a Wagner Saf-T-Plane that a lot of instrument makers swear by. It's mounted in a drill press and I think it might get the tolerances that Matthew was looking for. Thanks for jogging my memory.
Veneer is available in a number of thicknesses. Certainly Wood,they sell 1/16, 1/18-1/20 and 1/8", look at the lower part of the page. http://www.certainlywood.com/woodmenu.htm
re Safe T Planer. I have one and it is OK for rabetting and coving, but does not give a finished surface.merle
Any one out there cuts thin strip of wood by hand tools? Don't have band saw, jointer,table saw and drum sander. Would like to know how to do so with hand tools. How do they do it in the days before mpowertools?
Here's a picture of a hand operated veneer saw. - about halfway down the list of pictures in
Do you have any more photos on your veneer saw. I am interested to make one. It probabbly come handy for my type of work. What sort of blade do you use for the veneer saw. (PPI, thickness of blade?).
Also, how does vise in the photo with the veneer saw works. How does it open and close.
Epo,It's not my veneer saw, but if you go through the link, you'll find more details on the vice. From memory, it's an Acme threaded rod and nut, with a jaw attached to the end also a second jaw attached to a captive nut in the middle of the rod.I'd use a replacement saw blade for a Nobex or other mitre saw as a starting pointGood luck with both.Cheers,eddieEdited 12/30/2004 12:12 am ET by eddie (aust) - to get the grammar making sense
Edited 12/30/2004 4:47 am ET by eddie (aust)
They offer a service to slice strips affordably and you will not need to sand the pieces. They use a special gang saw which yields perfect pieces with a minimal loss of kerf. Basically it's a frame saw with bandsaw thickess blades mounted on a frame that moves up and down. Old world technology reinvented by the Germans. Work smarter not harder.
I just bookmarked that site. Interesting!
Thanks for the feedback...
Matthew--I do basicly the same as you are doing except I use the table saw and then to the drum sander which I believe leaves a little flatter surface than the planer. You do not need to be a full 1/16 heavy to do this on the sander as it works in thousandths. However--I agree the bandsaw has a much smaller kerf and reduces waste.
Like I said earlier, I have no experience with the drum sander. But I am hearing from people that it is accurate enough to create a uniform thickness for the wood throughout the strip.I'll have to look into this option a little closer!Thanks!
You've probably ruled this out already ... but I saw one poster mention using the TS with feather boards. When I want repetitive thin cuts I use the TS, but with a sled that runs against the fence and is set the desired distance from the right side of the blade. The jig has a nub on the trailing edge to support (push) the stock being cut, like a tapering jig but without the taper. If you make the sled/jig wide enough, and include a handle, then you have a safe place to put your hand as you make the cut. Each piece cut will be the same thickness as the one before since nothing is moved between cuts. Much safer than trying to push a super thin push stick through between the blade and the fence. Sort of like a meat slicer I guess.
I did not see where this was already mentioned yet so here goes. When ripping very thin strips I use an auxillary half fence, stopped about half way through the blade. I use a 3/4"thick half fence , so when the cut stock passes the blade it won't bind or burn because it is not bound between anything.You will want to start with longer than needed stock. Joint one edge first then with the blade that produces the cleanest cut , proceed. Sorry it took me so long to chime in on this .
good luck give it a try , I hope it will help dusty
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