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How difficult is it to accurately cut your own planks?


I am trying to decide on whether or not to buy a table saw. Part of my motivation is to reduce the cost of pre-cut hardwood strips. I would buy sheets instead of the more expensive strips.


I am not talking here about the brand, there are plenty of those discussions on other forums. I am interested in the skill required, techniques, etc.


I could not find and existing forum on this topic. If there is one please direct me to it.


Thank You,

Richard T.

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By "source your own timber" I assume you mean cutting yourself for your own use?



I reviewed your thin cut posting and I have marked it as "follow." I appreciate your taking the time to post this detailed and easy to understand explanation. I will be going through it a number of times.

I understand that you were making a really thin cut, but it looks like the waste from the kit was a lot. If I am cutting 1/15 planks it looks like half the wood would end up waste. Is that because of the size of the table saw (10")?


My thoughts are that I would only be using the saw for modeling. Do you all think one of the mini saws, i.e., Proxxon or Byrnes, would be better suited to this size work? Also, does anyone have a feel for what the percent savings of "sourcing my own timber" would be over buying hardwood planks? (might help me figure the price range I should look at. They run from 125 to 450 for the Byrnes.





Richard T.

Edited by rtropp
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  • 1 year later...

I just can't see how cutting your own planking is cost effective on a table saw.  A thin kerf blade will automatically throw away .065" of valuable wood now if your building a cheap pine boat that might not matter but is still extremely wasteful.  If you plan on using boxwood or Swiss pear buy the veneer and scrape to the thickness you want.  Plane no backing veneers range from .025-.045 approx.  Holly good luck on that I cut off a branch in the woods at 24" then clamp it on the workbench and block plane it green and to the thickness you want uncurl and let dry holly needs to dry fast to keep the whitest possible color.  DO NOT BUY the ebay holly veneer it's old and looks like maple.  English Sycamore is you next best thing or dyed veneer.

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Hello Scratchbuildmike, you have a good point about cost verses benefits.  It is not so much that the blade turns some of the wood into sawdust (as does scraping) but rather the cost of the table saw/planer/sanders/vacuums/blades/ and your time involved.  Without having the machinery, then mail order is a good deal for many folks.  


I choose to cut my own because:

1. I can control the quality of the wood, its color, and its final size;

2. I use the machines to build other things such as toys for the kids and their kids (grand kids are so much fun!);

3. I don't have to wait for mail order, and there are no shipping costs (I seldom buy wood that needs shipping);

4. I can make planks, beams, frames etcetera out of any wood I can get my hands on.


A note on veneers:  I don't favor them because most of them have cracks, and many are brittle from age.  The cracks are made by the huge knives used in peeling the thin veneer from the log.  Some high end veneers are made by sawing but you will be paying extra for these. Veneers do have their place and the cracks might not be problematic if you control their application to the model ship.  


Keep building and have fun.                      Duff

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  • 2 weeks later...

Personally, I can't imagine not having a small modeling table saw. I use it for so many things. The other day, I needed some pieces about 1/8" square to go on the corners of a deck house. I had to notch out one corner of the square stock so it would fit over the corners of the deck house (leaving 1/16" on either side for later planking). Simple enough to do with the table saw but it would have been very difficult to do accurately by hand with an Exacto knife. If I need a 2.5mm wide board and don't have one, I can cut it on the saw. Do I want to cut several pieces so they are all exactly the same length by only measuring once - I do it on the table saw. If I need something that's tapered, I can easily cut it on the saw. I could fill up a page with all the uses I find for the saw. I suspect if you get one you'll wonder how you ever did without it. Is it a necessity - of course not. I remember reading Harold Underhill's books and how he used not much more than a pen knife. But is it a greatly appreciated tool? It sure is in my shop!


Cheers -


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I have to agree with John above.

I have bought per cut strips .. But not always good quality.

Since buying my hobby saw I can cut what I want and not what's for sale.

As John pointed out the saw is not just for cutting strips. Almost anything wood on the model can be cut with a little thought on the method.


Regards Antony.

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