Billet buying 101/saw blade selection 101...

Construction and repair of Classical Guitar and related instruments
MessyTendon
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Billet buying 101/saw blade selection 101...

Post by MessyTendon » Fri Jul 14, 2017 10:17 pm

I might have access to some nice figured billets, not pen turning burl grade stuff.

So the million dollar question is what am I looking for in terms of quality indication. I also likely have access to some decent power band saws. But I am wondering if the blades will be compatible. The claim is that the old band saws were able to cut through bones of animals. I'm not yet sure the make and model. Can meat saws be converted to saw billets? The billets themselves are already processed and I believe 2-3 inches thick or more.

I am wondering about various grades and types of blades have standardized sizing. Assuming I can get a blade capable of cutting the billets...do various blades actually interchange with various models? I assume the alignment of attachment can be modified or is otherwise standard.

I can try to get specs of the saws. These billets aren't exactly cheap, so I'd like to glean as much info as possible.

I figure If I can get 5 sets...back and sides...or more I would not be wasting my money. Time is not a factor :)

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Re: Billet buying 101/saw blade selection 101...

Post by Peter_T » Fri Jul 14, 2017 11:29 pm

Give up on the meat saw idea, for numerous reasons.

Bandsaw blade compatibility starts with the length of the blade. If the blade length is in the right range, the saw can mount it. The only other consideration is whether the saw can properly tension a blade -- for example, less robust saw will be very unhappy with a 1" blade.

Your considerations are:

1) Is the resaw height of the bandsaw greater than the height of the billet? If not, you cannot use the saw.
2) Is the power of the saw enough to cut the wood without bogging down terribly and/or stopping? Is not, you'll hate your life trying to resaw, and the quality will decrease. The type of blade influences how much motor power is needed, by the way.
3) Is the blade itself appropriate to the application? For a 12" resaw of cocobolo, you best prepare to use a carbide-tipped blade, while a Woodslicer works well enough for me to cut spruce or cedar billets for tops. The price difference is around 10x between those blades.


If this is all foreign to you, I'd honestly just get someone else to do the resaw. Gearing up for that much sawing is usually inefficient for the hobbyist, given the saw size, blade quality, and time investment required. A pro might charge a few bucks, but you'll have maximum yield and minimum time spent, so it's generally a good balance.

MessyTendon
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Re: Billet buying 101/saw blade selection 101...

Post by MessyTendon » Sat Jul 15, 2017 12:40 am

Thanks...I'll look into the power specs...good to know about the cedar spruce...that would certainly be cheaper to buy a spruce log or cedar than just buy tops for 20-30$ a set.

What about sawing by hand? I'm a glutton for punishment.

Philosopherguy
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Re: Billet buying 101/saw blade selection 101...

Post by Philosopherguy » Sat Jul 15, 2017 1:08 pm

MessyTendon wrote:
Sat Jul 15, 2017 12:40 am
Thanks...I'll look into the power specs...good to know about the cedar spruce...that would certainly be cheaper to buy a spruce log or cedar than just buy tops for 20-30$ a set.

What about sawing by hand? I'm a glutton for punishment.
Now the hand sawing sounds painful!

You don't need a great bandsaw to do the resawing. BUT, the better the saw the better the finished piece. With a cheap saw you will have a hard time getting a good clean cut and you will have to saw the boards thicker to compensate for what you have to fix later. So, there will be more work when you go to actually make the guitar in thinning, sanding and trying to get it reasonably flat to start with.

I've done some resawing on my relatively cheap 14" bandsaw and it turned out ok (not guitar stuff mind you). But, it definitely wasn't the same quality as you would get coming out of a professional shop, in terms of saw marks and a little bit of wander here and there.

I agree that it's probably easier, if you are getting a number of them done, to ask someone else to do it for a price.

Martin
*************************************************************
2013 Ramirez 130 Anos - Spruce
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Jason Wolverton
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Re: Billet buying 101/saw blade selection 101...

Post by Jason Wolverton » Sat Jul 15, 2017 4:51 pm

I have a Laguna Tools bandsaw, but they make blades that can be sized to almost any length. If you check the thickness of the wheels on your saw you can get a blade the same width as your wheel. The thicker the blade, the better job of resawing it will do. The Resaw King blades by Laguna Tools rock. Each tooth is carbide. Super sharp and a really clean cut. I resaw my own wood all the time. I love my bandsaw. The blades can be resharpened up to fives times (at least that's the most I ever got out of one.) With a sharp blade and a well set up saw you'll be able to maximize your stock.
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simonm
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Re: Billet buying 101/saw blade selection 101...

Post by simonm » Sat Jul 15, 2017 7:20 pm

MessyTendon wrote:
Fri Jul 14, 2017 10:17 pm
…. The claim is that the old band saws were able to cut through bones of animals. ...
In the unlikely event that there is a real butcher's shop in the vicinity you will see a bandsaw as routine equipment. Or certainly you used to see them.
MessyTendon wrote:
Fri Jul 14, 2017 10:17 pm

Can meat saws be converted to saw billets?
No idea about the blades used by butchers.

There is a saying attributed to various people on the lines of "if you have to ask, you can't afford it" - I think it is applicable here too. Re-sawing is not for the faint of heart and unless you already have suitable equipment or are planning to do 500 or more sets of timber, it will never pay for itself in either time or money.

I had a look at a friends re-sawing set-up recently. His workshop is about 800 sq ft. The saw is 300-500kg if not more. Uses 3-phase power. He has 6" ducting to a serious cyclone for dust extraction; he also has a second independent dust extraction system for smaller power tools. He uses a vacuum to keep the tiber he is re-sawing attached to jig for pushing the timber. The saw is an old professional model but would cost 800-1000 used without any of the extras. Before he runs the timber through this saw, he squares it all up using a planer and a thicknesser. Each of these is also in the same heavy weight, and price category category: the kind of kit that is probably in the 5 figure area new today. Setting everything up probably takes the best part of an hour each time.

In essence you have to decide if you want to build or if you want to cut timber.

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Chris Sobel
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Re: Billet buying 101/saw blade selection 101...

Post by Chris Sobel » Sun Jul 16, 2017 2:41 am

I do a lot of resaw of logs, billets, etc...

If you are a small shop luthier starting up and are certain that you're in it for the long haul, it can make economic sense to get a good bandsaw and jointer if you're thinking of resawing 200 guitars worth of wood to kick start your inventory. If you're just a hobbyist it does not make economic sense to invest the $$ in a good resaw setup.

I did a ton of resaw of instrument wood on a tuned 14" bandsaw that I modified over a period of 3 years and it worked o.k. There were a lot of tears shed over biffed billets when the tune of the saw went slightly out. That's something you need to consider. I love wood and butchering a cut in expensive rosewood can be heart breaking. The amount of wood you need to go though to learn how to process timber well is substantial... it's an art like guitar making and it has it own set of idiosyncrasies and demands. If you LOVE resaw and wood then maybe it makes sense to take the plunge... but if you're looking to just save $$ on a few sets then it doesn't make any sense.

I eventually got a large bandsaw when I started reselling cedar that could handle wider blades but even then the setup of these big saws is so critical that you are having to adjust it from session to session, so it doesn't run itself. Bandsaw's aren't like most other woodworking machines in that they have to be tuned constantly, and if you're going for high yield resaw the tolerances are extremely demanding. I have about 5 grand invested in resaw equipment--that includes a good jointer if you're not going to do it by hand because stock preparation is essential to good yields. Even so, I still biff cuts once in a while. Laguna sent me a bad blade recently and I didn't figure out what was going on until it was too late... beautiful wood down the drain. I'm working with them to get it replaced hopefully.

On the subject of Laguna, the resaw king is the finest resaw blade made on the planet. With a 1mm kerf and low mass backing, you can run a large blade much more easily than heavier steel blades. You can run a 3/4" resaw king on a 14" bandsaw and it performs well. I have gone through a few and other blades and others don't compare. The trimaster from lennox comes close but you can't resharpen it and in the size I need for my bandsaw they are just as expensive as the RK, and the kerf is .3mm thicker which equates to half a set every 1"!! I once did a resaw on a partial log of ebony on a single sharpening on a resaw king... almost 60 fingerboards. I was able to cut most of them on one charge.

Sorry for this rant--I had a bad resaw session today and it reminded me of the ups and downs of cutting your own wood. Have someone else do it for you that has the setup. Down in CA I would look at Dave Borson, he has the ultimate resaw setup and his prices are very reasonable.
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simonm
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Re: Billet buying 101/saw blade selection 101...

Post by simonm » Sun Jul 16, 2017 11:23 am

Chris Sobel wrote:
Sun Jul 16, 2017 2:41 am
….. I would look at Dave Borson, he has the ultimate resaw setup and his prices are very reasonable.
His (now old) website is worth a look in any case. http://borsonresaw.com/pages/carriage.html

Peter_T
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Re: Billet buying 101/saw blade selection 101...

Post by Peter_T » Mon Jul 17, 2017 11:56 pm

simonm wrote:
Sat Jul 15, 2017 7:20 pm
MessyTendon wrote:
Fri Jul 14, 2017 10:17 pm
…. The claim is that the old band saws were able to cut through bones of animals. ...
There is a saying attributed to various people on the lines of "if you have to ask, you can't afford it" - I think it is applicable here too. Re-sawing is not for the faint of heart and unless you already have suitable equipment or are planning to do 500 or more sets of timber, it will never pay for itself in either time or money.
Even with all my caveats, and Chris's too (which I completely agree with), I will say that it's possible to start on a budget. Older bandsaws are often cheap but perfectly functional. The Woodslicer blade is maybe $20? or $35? Anyway much cheaper that the blades Chris mentioned (which are fantastic once you want to step up).

My saw is a Walker Tuner 16" - it's better looking than every saw in the entire world, heavier than most, has a resaw height of 12 inches (!!) and is quite accurate. This model can often be found in the $300-500 range on Craigslist, but you may need to replace bearings, re-tire the wheels, etc.


Even with a capable setup in my shop, I'll note that I would take a nice piece of rosewood over to a friend's house for help, rather than risk failure.

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Chris Sobel
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Re: Billet buying 101/saw blade selection 101...

Post by Chris Sobel » Tue Jul 18, 2017 5:01 am

Peter_T wrote:
Mon Jul 17, 2017 11:56 pm
simonm wrote:
Sat Jul 15, 2017 7:20 pm
MessyTendon wrote:
Fri Jul 14, 2017 10:17 pm
…. The claim is that the old band saws were able to cut through bones of animals. ...
There is a saying attributed to various people on the lines of "if you have to ask, you can't afford it" - I think it is applicable here too. Re-sawing is not for the faint of heart and unless you already have suitable equipment or are planning to do 500 or more sets of timber, it will never pay for itself in either time or money.
Even with all my caveats, and Chris's too (which I completely agree with), I will say that it's possible to start on a budget. Older bandsaws are often cheap but perfectly functional. The Woodslicer blade is maybe $20? or $35? Anyway much cheaper that the blades Chris mentioned (which are fantastic once you want to step up).

My saw is a Walker Tuner 16" - it's better looking than every saw in the entire world, heavier than most, has a resaw height of 12 inches (!!) and is quite accurate. This model can often be found in the $300-500 range on Craigslist, but you may need to replace bearings, re-tire the wheels, etc.


Even with a capable setup in my shop, I'll note that I would take a nice piece of rosewood over to a friend's house for help, rather than risk failure.
I think this is right on. Like I mentioned I was able to do a LOT on a 14" bandsaw, and you can learn the basics of good setup on it. I would just avoid doing rosewood or similar especially over 5" is where it gets a lot more difficult.

Cheers,

Chris
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Alan Carruth
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Re: Billet buying 101/saw blade selection 101...

Post by Alan Carruth » Tue Jul 18, 2017 4:48 pm

One thing that helps hugely is an adjustable fence with some sort of setup to push the wood in against it. Bandsaw blades tend to drift, for any number of reasons; trying to move off the line of the cut. Unlike a table saw, where the fence had better be pretty well parallel to the plane of the blade, on a band saw that sort of setup can cause problems. The least of these has the blade curve outward away from the fence slightly: you don't want to see the worst.

The way around this is to have a fence that can match the drift angle of the blade. Once you set a new bade in the saw you carefully rip a piece of wood by pushing it only from one point on the back edge, and find the angle you have to feed it in to get the cut to be parallel to the edge of the piece. Once I've found this I stop the saw without removing the piece, and mark the table with tape (or, better, mark previously placed pieces of tape on the table). These marks are used to set up a tall fence that is hinged at the line of the leading edge of the saw. In theory (and often enough in practice!) feeding wood through at that angle will result in a straight cut and a flat surface. I also rigged up a set of spring loaded rollers on lever arms to hold the wood snuggly against the fence. This helps keep the wood from cupping away from the fence, due to internal stresses or the simple cussedness of the stuff. Note that if you're going to do any serious re-sawing you should check the drift angle often; it can change as the blades get dull.

Another big help I've found is a means of sharpening the blades. I set up a carriage that rides in the slot of the table to hold a Dremel tool with an abrasive cutoff wheel. This grinds off the front surface of the teeth a small amount, and restores the sharpness of the tip. It only takes about 15 minutes to touch up a blade on my 14" Jet saw with the riser block, and it ends up sharper than new. This is a decent saving with regular resaw blades that run $40 or more, and is especially helpful with carbide blades that can cost four times as much. With carbide you have to use diamond cutoff wheels, of course, but these are fairly easy to find. Eventually the blades will break, of course, but I get three or more sharpenings out of them.

The width of the blade you can use depends mostly on how rigid the frame of the saw is. Although in theory a 1" wide blade will do a better job than a narrower one, in practice that's predicated on having sufficient tension. I find on my saw that I get better results with a 1/2" or 5/8" steel blade, and have had very good luck with the 3/8" Lenox carbide blades. Carbide, of course, takes a wider kerf and wastes some wood. OTOH, a bad blade or poor setup wastes a lot more.

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geoff-bristol
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Re: Billet buying 101/saw blade selection 101...

Post by geoff-bristol » Wed Jul 19, 2017 9:28 pm

MessyTendon wrote:
Sat Jul 15, 2017 12:40 am
Thanks...I'll look into the power specs...good to know about the cedar spruce...that would certainly be cheaper to buy a spruce log or cedar than just buy tops for 20-30$ a set.

What about sawing by hand? I'm a glutton for punishment.
When you find somewhere that sells instrument grade spruce by the billet - let me know ! I would dearly love to buy all my spruce as a quartered log - but no-one sells it. Why - becuase they make a fortune slicing it into tops !

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Re: Billet buying 101/saw blade selection 101...

Post by Peter_T » Mon Jul 24, 2017 10:21 pm

geoff-bristol wrote:
Wed Jul 19, 2017 9:28 pm
MessyTendon wrote:
Sat Jul 15, 2017 12:40 am
Thanks...I'll look into the power specs...good to know about the cedar spruce...that would certainly be cheaper to buy a spruce log or cedar than just buy tops for 20-30$ a set.

What about sawing by hand? I'm a glutton for punishment.
When you find somewhere that sells instrument grade spruce by the billet - let me know ! I would dearly love to buy all my spruce as a quartered log - but no-one sells it. Why - becuase they make a fortune slicing it into tops !


On the positive side, it could be said that you pay a bit extra to ensure your perfect-looking billet doesn't have a defect buried in its core that makes it a zero-yield log.

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Chris Sobel
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Re: Billet buying 101/saw blade selection 101...

Post by Chris Sobel » Tue Jul 25, 2017 7:04 am

Oh man ain't that the truth. I've cut up whole cedar billets before that had hidden hairline cracks through 10" of thickness. Beautiful stuff, just so loaded with medullary rays. I hand cracked every single piece in two while staring off into the distance. A friend paid several grand for a Blackwood board (looked good on the surface) that was almost entirely filled with sand.
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MessyTendon
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Re: Billet buying 101/saw blade selection 101...

Post by MessyTendon » Tue Jul 25, 2017 2:59 pm

Thanks guys...no billets or band saws for me...Baby steps. I gotta make a shooting board, solera, go bar deck...and get to work soon.

I do think it would be sad to buy nice wood, start sawing and open up all the flaws...that's something i've thought about and now I won't be going and buying that 400$ slab of Claro wood.

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