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Author Topic: Breaking down a slab  (Read 658 times)

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Offline Crusarius

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Breaking down a slab
« on: November 13, 2021, 11:03:13 AM »
so now that I have piles of lumber laying around I find myself with a need to break down some slabs I cut.

Most of them are 2" thick walnut with live edges (bark still on). I found that I do not use the slabs and would prefer them to be boards. What do you guys use to break down live edge slabs?

I have been using my circular saw and a straight edge. This has proven to be quite cumbersome. Especially when the slabs have enough tension in them to close up on the blade.


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Re: Breaking down a slab
« Reply #1 on: November 13, 2021, 12:22:17 PM »
Sounds pretty aggravating. Maybe you should just send them to me and be done with them.😂

Offline Crusarius

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Re: Breaking down a slab
« Reply #2 on: November 13, 2021, 01:32:05 PM »
I dunno. its just a bunch of worthless walnut :)

Offline mudfarmer

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Re: Breaking down a slab
« Reply #3 on: November 13, 2021, 01:49:14 PM »
Those track saws look like the bees knees for something like this. Possible dumb question incoming: can you just throw them back on the mill? (no experience w/ walnut)

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Re: Breaking down a slab
« Reply #4 on: November 13, 2021, 01:50:57 PM »
I could. but it doesn't leave me the edge I would like to have. plus, the way I built the bed it can be challenging to get them to sit just the way I want them.

And the mill is waaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyy o0ver there ----------> :)

Offline moodnacreek

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Re: Breaking down a slab
« Reply #5 on: November 13, 2021, 07:42:02 PM »
How wide are these walnut 2" planks?  If they are 12" wide and 7" + long and flat I can trade 1" r-w walnut and or $ for them here. Resawing them to get boards would be crazy.

Offline moodnacreek

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Re: Breaking down a slab
« Reply #6 on: November 13, 2021, 07:44:24 PM »
Darn, I ment 7' + long and 12" + wide.

Offline YellowHammer

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Re: Breaking down a slab
« Reply #7 on: November 13, 2021, 08:50:07 PM »
The slowest way we take the live edge off 2" slabs is with a Festool Track Saw.  

or we use our Straight Line Rip Saw which puts a glue line on one edge at a time

or fastest yet is our twin blade edger which puts a 1/8" per 8' edge

or put them back on the sawmill which is back breaking and pretty slow.

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Offline Southside

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Re: Breaking down a slab
« Reply #8 on: November 13, 2021, 10:20:13 PM »
Break them down into Benjamins. Christmas is coming, someone will want to build several live edged Walnut tables. Then go saw some Walnut lumber instead. 
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Offline Beau Woodworks

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Re: Breaking down a slab
« Reply #9 on: November 14, 2021, 12:51:26 AM »
In the workshop, I would traditionally cut off the edges freehand on the bandsaw. This is working on the presumption you are going to be planing the boards up afterward anyway. If you want a cleaner straighter cut a circular saw against a straight edge is ideal. Track saws should do it but often not that gutsy so if there is a lot of tension you might need to drop wedges into the cut to stop the blade from getting pinched.

Offline Crusarius

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Re: Breaking down a slab
« Reply #10 on: November 14, 2021, 09:02:01 AM »
Break them down into Benjamins. Christmas is coming, someone will want to build several live edged Walnut tables. Then go saw some Walnut lumber instead.
If it wasn't for the hundreds of other ppl on facebook selling slabs like that for $20 each then I would consider it.

How wide are these walnut 2" planks?  If they are 12" wide and 7' + long and flat I can trade 1" r-w walnut and or $ for them here. Resawing them to get boards would be crazy.
Most of them are over the 12" and almost 10'. the tree had a good sweep to it. but if you are interested we can probably work a deal. I wanted to come see your operation anyhow.

I wasn't looking at making them thin boards just changing from live edge huge slab into usable boards. Never even thought of making them thinner. But I can setup my 14" bandsaw to resaw and do that.

In the workshop, I would traditionally cut off the edges freehand on the bandsaw. This is working on the presumption you are going to be planing the boards up afterward anyway. If you want a cleaner straighter cut a circular saw against a straight edge is ideal. Track saws should do it but often not that gutsy so if there is a lot of tension you might need to drop wedges into the cut to stop the blade from getting pinched.
I learned about the tension the first go round I had with my 2.25 hp circular saw and almost bouncing off the ceiling in the shop. That tension was insane and jammed the saw right up. Wedges is a good idea!!!!


Offline moodnacreek

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Re: Breaking down a slab
« Reply #11 on: November 14, 2021, 04:09:35 PM »
C, oh I thought you where trying to resaw them. I get a real good price for walnut like that being so close to the city. Come down, yes but make sure I will not be deer hunting or something. I will be here most times now and am tearing out my sawmill and putting in another one. I am 14 miles above Woodbury Commons, a very well known fancy shopping [outlet] center. People come from all over the world. I never go there.

Online HemlockKing

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Re: Breaking down a slab
« Reply #12 on: November 14, 2021, 04:23:21 PM »
Maybe you could find a bigger more powerful circular saw
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Offline Crusarius

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Re: Breaking down a slab
« Reply #13 on: November 14, 2021, 10:23:31 PM »
I would be scared with much bigger the 2.25 hp one just about through me when the slab closed up on it. Glad I had a good grip.

I started really thinking about a track saw. Especially since I am not very good at cutting straight lines with circular saws so I typically use a straight edge anyhow.

Offline Crusarius

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Re: Breaking down a slab
« Reply #14 on: November 14, 2021, 10:24:56 PM »
Moodnacreek, 4 hours 14 minutes. I don't know if I have enough walnut that I am wiling to part with but thats not a bad drive to escape the wife and kids for a while.

First real snow tonight up to almost 1.5" and still coming down.

Offline NE Woodburner

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Re: Breaking down a slab
« Reply #15 on: November 15, 2021, 01:07:54 PM »
Those track saws look like the bees knees for something like this.

You can make a poor mans track saw sled with a piece of plywood just wider than your saw base and glue/screw a straight piece onto it as a guide fence. Make the fence just a bit wider than the dimension of your saw base edge to blade. The first time you use it will be to cut the sled with the saw you are going to use. After that the newly cut edge of your sled is where your cut line will be on your live edge slab. Clamp it in place so it doesn't move while you are cutting. Mine is 8' long and comes in very handy.

Offline Crusarius

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Re: Breaking down a slab
« Reply #16 on: November 15, 2021, 01:48:27 PM »
I thought alot about making one of those. The slabs I am breaking down are typically 2" give or take. the saw I think cuts to 2 3/16. so the guide would have to be really thin to work. I could probably get away with it but then feature creep sets in. I do not always need 8' and I sometimes need over 8'. I would have to make the sled adjustable. at that point I think I may just have to buy a tracksaw.

I added a tracksaw 2 clamps and 2 track sections to my cart on amazon. Somehow I ended up at $288 for all of it. I know thats not anywhere near top of the line but may be worth the investment. I just ran a bunch of 12" wide 1" boards with one straight edge and one live edge through the planer, they are 110" long. What a pain. would you guys break the boards down before planing or plane then break them down?

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Offline firefighter ontheside

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Re: Breaking down a slab
« Reply #17 on: November 15, 2021, 03:04:11 PM »
I think the track saw is the way to go.  I have a dewalt track saw with the 102" track plus clamps.  I need to buy a shorter piece of track for cutting shorter stuff and also to extend my track so I can cut longer.  I know the festool is better, but the dewalt is pretty good as it is.  As far as the kerf closing up, that's gonna happen no matter what you're cutting with.  If it becomes a problem, you may have to put a little wedge in behind the saw.  I haven't really had that problem because I'm usually only cutting off an inch or two.  It's how I break down slabs to make boards for table glue ups.
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Offline Beau Woodworks

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Re: Breaking down a slab
« Reply #18 on: November 15, 2021, 03:24:24 PM »
 would you guys break the boards down before planing or plane then break them down?

For anyone who is interested here is the amazon list

saw
rail clamp
powertec rails
I normally break down to close to the final size before planing the boards up. The reason is that many boards are often warped along the length and the longer you leave the board the thinner it will be before removing all saw marks on the surface planer. Plus it's simply easier running shorter boards over the surface planer. Guess if the board were very flat I might plane them beforehand as you would have handy planed offcuts for little jobs. 
No idea about the cheaper track saws in the US. Scheppach is one of the better-reviewed cheaper track saws over here. I run a Makita which seems pretty spot on. Often fit kitchens with a chap who runs Festool and we are both happy using each other saws. 

Offline Crusarius

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Re: Breaking down a slab
« Reply #19 on: November 15, 2021, 08:09:10 PM »
Thanks beau, I started planing the boards and it was  real pain feeding 12" wide 116" long boards through the planer. next time I will rough them out then plane them.

I really need a straight edge. I started cutting a straight edge on the slabs so I could run them through the table saw and ended up with some very long curved edges. I may have to spank the credit card and at least buy the track so I have a straight edge to work with.


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