I'm planning a small deck project and I think I may need to cut notches
at the ends of some 4 x 4 ipe posts. (By "notch" I mean I want to
remove a 4" x 1" section at one end so that the post can be screwed in
from the side while resting on the 1" surface at the top.)
I've read that ipe can only be cut with carbide tools. But the only
tools I have that can make this cut are japanese hand saws and the band
saw (and no carbide blade). Will I be able to make this cut through 4
inch ipe with an ordinary steel band saw blade? I think I need to do
three of them. Will an ordinary blade last through three such cuts?
It wouldn't bother me if the blade is used up after this process. I
suppose I might end up having to cut the 4 x 4 posts to length as well.
Can I do this with one blade?
I have cut lots of Ipe and routed lots of slots in Ipe. Oddly I get MUCH
better mileage out of a HHS end mill bit than using the common carbide bit.
That said, a common saw may cut the wood but will you live long enough to
finish the cut. There is going to be a lot of effort on your part. Can you
notch the posts with a router bit?
I could notch the posts with a router bit, but at least my immediate
thoughts on how to do it are to either use the router table, which
would probably be pretty awkward with the whole rest of the heavy post
sticking out, or to use a jig where the router sits on a wide base
plate and rides on fixed height rails. The last time I did this the
setup time was considerable.
Surely cutting on the band saw shouldn't be effort even if it takes 5
minutes to make the cut. I guess there's the matter of supporting the
wood. I would definitely imagine that using a hand saw would be a lot
LOL... not true. I turn lots of ipe with plain ol' HHS tools.
It can be cut with any kind of sharp tool, the sharper the better. Regular
ol' HHS will give you a super sharp edge that you can refresh as needed.
Carbide gives you not quite so sharp an edge but last longer between
I cut ipe all the time on my bandsaw with an ordinary Timberwolf for
Have cut pieces up to 2" thick. Works just fine.
Sure. And if the blade starts out sharp/new, absolutely.
Don't see why not.
Do you know how to resharpen a bandsaw blade?
Michael Latcha - at home in Redford, MI
Hmmm. I would guess that a small file and a heck of a lot of time
would be the trick to resharpening a bandsaw blade (105 inches, I
believe). Is it a faster process than I think? (I've never tried it.)
From a post on rec.crafts.woodturning by Steven D. Russell, a professional
turner in Texas. It's long, but worth the read.
Michael Latcha - at home in Redford, MI
Here is a slightly updated copy of the posting on my technique for
sharpening bandsaw bands...
I save significant amounts of money every year by resharpening my bandsaw
bands using my "on the bandsaw" sharpening protocol. I use Timberwolf bands
which last longer initially and after being resharpened, than the el-cheapo
bands I used previously. Even using Timberwolf bands, I can dull a new band
in as little as two hours or less. Those of you that get a longer life with
your bands, good for you. However, I do not. :-(
I typically get a few days out of a new band and resharpen them 8-10 times,
before they are laid to rest in the rubbish bin. The best (resharpened)
cutting performance is achieved with the second through fifth resharpenings,
the sixth and later sharpenings are very dependent on the accuracy of the
earlier resharpenings. The cutting performance will degrade slightly with
each resharpening, but the resharpened band will still cut easily through
the wood, if the resharpening was done correctly.
If you are an occasional, or hobby turner, cutting clean wood you will no
doubt get a few months or more out of your band. If you are using your
bandsaw in a production environment - resawing, making bowl blanks, turning
squares and cutting through lots of bark and buried "goodies" typically
found in yard wood (like bullets, rocks, wire fencing etc), you will no
doubt see shorter life in your bands. In addition, if you are resawing
exotics with high silica contents, your bands life expectancy will be quite
short, measured in minutes, or perhaps hours.
My resharpening protocol is quite simple and does not require a lot of time
or effort. Most of us just replace the bands when they become dull. However,
in a production environment, the frequent replacement of bands can be quite
expensive. When I first started turning full time, I quickly learned that I
could dull a bandsaw blade, (not Timberwolf blades) very quickly. Cutting
wet timber and species with a high silica content, (especially with the bark
still attached) dulls the band in short order.
I looked at having the bands resharpened professionally, but the cost was
nearly the same as a replacement band and required driving 45 miles one way.
:-o Therefore, I began to investigate ways to resharpen the bands myself.
Every way I discovered required too much time, effort or money. Most of the
sharpening shops just laughed when I said I wanted to resharpen the band...
ON THE SAW! I think one guy is still laughing and rolling around on the
There is not too much room to work under the bandsaw guides and I wanted
something that was quick, small, lightweight and reasonably accurate. After
crashing and burning with the sharpening shops, I had just about given up. A
few days later, I lucked into several truckloads of Ash, Pecan-crete and
Elm. However, I only had one band left that was still sharp and I knew it
would not last long with bloody Pecan-crete. Yes, I could have just bought
some new bands, but being born in the "year of the rat" made me want to
stretch a little more life out 'em.
I poured over every tool I had in the shop, looking for ideas to sharpen the
band. Then it hit me... ka-ching, the Dremel Moto tool! Its small size and
lightweight, high RPM motor was just what I was looking for. At first I
tried to use the flat abrasive stones which worked, but did not last very
long. Then, I tried the thin abrasive cut-off wheels and my problems were
solved! They are quite durable and maintain their flat face well after
So, here are the specifics:
First: Unplug the saw and put on a full face safety shield and an
appropriate respirator to handle any of the metal dust that is generated.
Then, set up a good strong light (100 watt) that illuminates the bandsaw
band clearly. (I use an adjustable height stool to sit on that allows me to
have my eyes inline with the cutting "zone"). Next, whilst wearing gloves,
fully rotate the band and check for cracks, or other damage. If anything
shows up, throw the band out. I only resharpen bands that are free of
defects for safety reasons. Some chaps weld broken bands, but I do not.
Next, mount a thin abrasive cut-off disk onto the appropriate mandrel and
chuck it into the Moto-tool collet. Resharpen the band ON the saw, with the
tension set just enough to keep the band straight, whilst you rotate it.
With your left hand, advance the band by hand as each tooth is resharpened
(or vice versa if you are left handed). Use your right hand to hold and
control the Moto-tool, which is set to the lowest speed (10,000 rpm). As
each tooth is resharpened, rotate the band a bit to bring the next tooth
The teeth on the bands are set in a particular way, depending on the type of
band and its intended usage. Some teeth are straight inline with the body of
the band, others curve right or left. As you resharpen the teeth, rotate the
end (flat face) of the abrasive disk, so it matches the direction and
curvature of the tooth. Touch the flat part of the wheel lightly to the top
of each tooth, making sure the contact sharpens all the way to the end of
the tooth. Repeat the process for each tooth, making sure that the wheel
contacts and follows the top of the tooth correctly (this is very
important). You want the resharpened surface to feather into the shape of
Note: I only sharpen the top of each tooth, making sure to keep the
direction of each tooth in mind whilst sharpening it. This means you must
turn your wrist to accommodate each individual tooth setting angle. Sounds
more complicated than it is, but if you follow this rule, the band will stay
sharp longer and give more even and accurate cuts, very near the original
factory sharpening. I should mention that I use this resharpening protocol
primarily with 3 TPI bands.
Since the resharpening process creates a bright polished top on the tooth,
it is easy to tell where you started and thus, where you need to stop. My
bands are 150" long and it takes me less than five minutes to complete the
process on a 3 TPI band. Obviously, my resharpened bands are not as good as
"new" or even professionally resharpened bands. However, they ARE sharp
afterwards and allow me to continue cutting with a minimum of downtime and
I can usually get about 8-10 resharpenings per band, although on occasion I
have gotten as little as six. Use a very light touch on each tooth! It takes
only a whisper of touch to resharpen the edge. I pitch the abrasive disk
after it has been used to resharpen 8-10 times. I would not use these
resharpened bands to make any critical cuts. You cannot duplicate a
professional sharpening by this method, but it works well for rough cuts and
non-critical cutting (gross resaw work and corner removal on bowl blanks,
etc). It does take practice to get good at this (what in turning does not)
but, when you do it can save you a lot of time and money. If you have any
questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Better Woodturning and Finishing Through Chemistry...
Steven D. Russell
Eurowood Werks Woodturning Studio
Machinery, Tool and Product Testing for the
Woodworking and Woodturning Industry
The Woodlands, Texas
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