Rough going

I needed a simple way to simulate rough-sawn wood – the key being simple – but was coming up blank. A suggestion from one of the online woodworking forums saved the day.

For one of the projects in a new book I wanted an easy source or method to recommend to readers for rough-sawn wood in specific dimensions. Sure, you can sometimes find rough stuff at local suppliers and even the Big Box stores, but you’re limited to their dimensions – typically 3/4″ for the Big Boxes, and 4/4 and up for suppliers. But I needed thin stock of 1/4″, 3/8″ and 1/2″ with a rough-sawn surface on both sides.

I posted my dilemma on a woodworking forum and immediately started getting suggestions, but most just weren’t practical. Not all the readers of this book are accomplished woodworkers so I needed something that was either easy to simulate or easy to find, so suggestions like “have a local mill custom cut all your wood” and “rent a band saw mill” just wouldn’t work. Some other suggestions weren’t bad, such as using a wire brush attachment on a drill, but the results just didn’t look right. Then one poster came up with the perfect solution I was looking for.

He suggested cutting my stock to its intended dimensions, but with a good bit of extra working length, then dragging the faces backward across a band saw blade at a shallow angle. It was tricky, but after a couple pieces I got the hang of it. The key is pulling the stock quickly and at an absolutely constant rate, using a minimum of pressure against the blade – the idea is that you just want the stock surface to barely graze the blade at a brisk pace. I found that a resaw blade with a very low tooth-count gave the best results.

The result was perfect. I literally can’t tell the difference between my faux “rough” stock and some genuine rough-cut boards I have in my lumber rack.

I haven’t decided yet if I’ll recommend this in my book. As I noted, it’s a bit tricky to get right, and I’m not sure I’m comfortable suggesting such an odd bit of tool use to strangers. However, it’s a technique that I know I’ll use often from now on in my own work.

A.J.

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