Here's a handy accessory for resawing with a "point fence."
SHOP OWNER: Ellis Walentine
LOCATION: Springtown, PA
I've always preferred to use a "point fence" for resawing on the bandsaw. This type of fence -- essentially nothing more than a vertical edge clamped parallel to the blade -- is more versatile and positive than a typical rip fence, which is square to the table but not necessarily parallel to the "drift" of the blade. Drift depends on the relative sharpness and set of the teeth and causes the blade to tilt ot lead in one direction.
In the past, I've always used my left hand to hold the work against the point fence, but that can be pretty awkward when you're resawing long boards as I was a couple weeks ago. If your hand pressure slips for a moment, the blade can start to wander. I decided to devise a vertical featherboard to keep the stock in constant contact with the fence.
The point fence itself can be any straight, square block of wood or plywood contraption like the one I cobbled up for this particular job. The most important thing is for it to have a sharp or slightly rounded vertical edge roughly as high as the width of the stock being resawn. But, it should also be designed so that you can get two quick clamps on it so the clamp pads line up with spacing between the table ribs below. That could require a little forethought, depending on how your bandsaw table is made. To simplify things, you could install a piece of hardwood under the table to give you nice continuous flat clamping surfaces.
The vertical featherboard (see photos above and below) is simply a taller version of the typical featherboard you would use on your tablesaw or router table. In this case, I glued and screwed it to a piece of plywood, with a cleat underneath to register snugly between my bandsaw table and the rip fence bar. One clamp holds it firmly in to the table, and the cleat keeps it from rotating as I push the stock through it.
This particular featherboard is only about half the height of my stock. I could have made it taller, but in this case I was resawing 1" thick stock and I didn't need a full-height featherboard. (Not to mention that I can now use this setup for shorter work too, without interfering with the upper blade guides.) On thinner or more reactive boards, where some cupping might be anticipated, you'd be better off making your featherboard and your fence the full height of the stock.
To use this setup, I first gauge a centerline on a piece of wood the same thickness as my stock, usually a short cutoff. I gauge a centerline on one edge and line it up with the center of the bandsaw blade. Then I move the point fence up to my test piece, with the point of the fence directly opposite the cutting tips of the blade, and clamp it firmly to the table. I check to see that the spacing between the fence and the blade is uniform along the full height of the fence.
After that, I slide the featherboard up to the opposite side of the test piece, remove the test piece, move the featherboard another 1/32" or so toward the blade to supply some spring pressure for resawing, and tighten it down with the clamp.
Next, I test the setup with my test piece to see that the cut does in fact split the centerline I drew and that the featherboard pressure isn't too heavy or too light. If everything checks out, I proceed with the main event.
The actual resawing operation with a point fence requires a little attention but it isn't difficult, especially when you have a vertical featherboard. I simply keep both eyes on the blade as it slices through the wood. I focus on a point behind the cutting tips and watch to see that the back of the blade is centered in the kerf at all times. If the blade leads slightly, I can see it right away and react quickly to pivot the workpiece slightly to compensate.
This setup is great for long boards because you can shift your position or your grip on the workpiece -- even walk around the saw to pull it the last foot or two through the blade -- without ever losing that all-important contact between the fence and the work.. . . Ellis Walentine
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P.O. Box 493
Springtown, PA 18081