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Jul 19 / Scott

Back to the Bandsaw (5)

The next day I decided there had to be a way to make it work. They had been cutting frozen maple half slabs for 150 years at Two Rivers, and Hamilton had produced millions of pieces of wood type from the properly dried and prepared maple.

I called my friend at the Columbus Saw & Tool Company and he recommended a special 1 inch bi-metal industrial band saw blade that could be used to cut nonferrous metals and very hard woods. It was three times as expensive (under $100) but he was sure it would keep it’s “Set” and cut the frozen maple.

I also gave up on using my carriage saw to feed the half logs past the blade. I tore it apart and returned the borrowed straight casters. I also got rid of the fence. The problem now was how to get exactly 1 1/4” half slabs with no fence. The half logs were perfectly flat on the bottom. The sawmill had ripped the 8 foot logs in half for me, and they were also frosty with ice from the frozen maple. They would slide very easily on a saw table.

I decided to use a 12” radial arm saw to solve two problems. First, by raising up the arm of the saw a new carbide crosscut blade would cut the first 3 inches of the frozen bark side. That saved a little work for the bandsaw.

Second, by using a homemade indexing pin (a bent piece of wire attached to the guard) I could cut very accurate slots 1 1/4 inches apart, leaving an 1/8 inch groove (kerf). It was a little scary at first, and the frozen maple sawdust filled the air and floor around the radial arm saw like snow.

Back to the bandsaw.

Cutting 9 inch thick wood on a bandsaw still follows the regular shop safety rules. The guides and guards were set to just above the top of the bark, and hand position was very important. I also kept several thick pieces of wood nearby to safely finish each cut. I am very good on a bandsaw and had no problem keeping the new blade centered in the radial arm saw slot. The bi-metal blade cut the remaining 6 inches of frozen maple like butter. Smooth and straight. I got 11 half slabs out of the first log then stopped to check the blade. It looked brand new, Thank you Columbus Saw.

I had help from a good friend who removed the cut slabs. After I taught Bill to “stick” the wood, he loaded my new drying cart as fast I could cut. 208 beautiful frozen half maple slabs, 14 to 16 inches long, filled the cart to almost 5 feet tall. The fresh cut frozen maple looked like slabs of new creamery butter, a beautiful, light, rich, cream. None of my pictures do it justice. Half of my log supply was cut, and the other half would remain outside under a tarp while I was gone for the weekend. (continued)

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