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Best Way To Resaw Ebony


MescaBug
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I'm back from my local wood supply shop. They got a huge supply of good quality Madagascar ebony. Last shipment was at least 6-8 months ago.

Prices are interesting so I tought about getting a few blocks, and start building my own fingerboards. A 4" X 4" X 22" is about 50$. Problem is resawing. I want to make 0.5" slabs, and sand them with the drum sander. The shop won't do it because they use a huge industrial resawing machine, and they won't resaw small pieces like this one. Fence guides won't go below 10".

What can I use to resaw ebony? I have a General 1HP 14" band saw, with a fence of course. Will I get through ebony with my bandsaw? What type of blade should I use?

I also have a table saw, but it's a small 13A 10" table... Not too sure about the cutting power. It struggles a little with thick maple board.

Thanks,

David

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Good idea.

What kind of blade would be the best? Big or small tooths? And how many?

I use a 40 tooth for 'standard' woods; mahogany, poplar.

If your going to resaw ebony for fretboards don't use a table saw, the waste is huge(blade kerf is too much). I resaw ebony on my bandsaw(up to 9" widths). If you use a carbon blade you will dull it after a little use, a carbide blade will cut the hardest woods with great life. If you are going to resaw, set your machine up so that it cuts very accurately(look up topics on the subject). You are going to want to slow down a bit to make sure the dust clears the cut and the blade is cutting smoothly(not being forced). With a low loss blade like a woodslicer or blade runner, you can get an almost polished cut, same holds true for a Lennox trimaster with ebony. Also, don't cut 1/2" thick, it is wasteful and a pain in the butt to sand. I would cut closer to 5/16" max(that gives you .065" over which should be fat for tolerance).

I am supprised that you are able to buy Maccasar for about $21 bd. ft. Than is WAY CHEAP! Buy every last bit of it that is usable at that price. $30-$35 is dirt cheap, and $50-$60 would be more "normal" retail.

Peace,Rich

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Best to do it on the bandsaw.

I would recommend a 1/2" band, 4 or 6 tpi

Remember too that it is likely to bow/cup/twist as you are sawing it.

You will lose a lot more wood cutting it on the tablesaw, and a 4" thick block of ebony will tend to bind the blade in the cut.

Edit: Um.. Yeah, what Rich said! :D

Edited by orgmorg
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Best to do it on the bandsaw.

I would recommend a 1/2" band, 4 or 6 tpi

Remember too that it is likely to bow/cup/twist as you are sawing it.

You will lose a lot more wood cutting it on the tablesaw, and a 4" thick block of ebony will tend to bind the blade in the cut.

Edit: Um.. Yeah, what Rich said! :D

Um... Yeah, what orgmorg said! :D

My woodslicers I use on my 14" run 2-3 TPI, and My Trimasters are the same. Nice smooth cut, and usually is dandy up to 8-9" widths. If you are only cutting 4" thick wood 4-6 TPI will get er done just great. For spruce and cedar(usually wider resaws) I use a 1.3 TPI blade.

Peace,Rich

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Also, don't cut 1/2" thick, it is wasteful and a pain in the butt to sand. I would cut closer to 5/16" max(that gives you .065" over which should be fat for tolerance).

I am supprised that you are able to buy Maccasar for about $21 bd. ft. Than is WAY CHEAP! Buy every last bit of it that is usable at that price. $30-$35 is dirt cheap, and $50-$60 would be more "normal" retail.

Peace,Rich

Thanks for all the advices. I will definitely go with the band saw.

The reason I won't cut below 1/2" is because I will sand the slabs with a drum sander. It uses 80-grit paper. I can't change it because it's not mine. I can use it only. It takes about 1/32" per pass, which is a lot when you have about 10-12mm to deal with. I will finish it by hand with a smaller grit.

And it's actually Madagascar ebony, black as coal :D I've seen at least 30-40 good sized slabs.

Edited by MescaBug
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Also, don't cut 1/2" thick, it is wasteful and a pain in the butt to sand. I would cut closer to 5/16" max(that gives you .065" over which should be fat for tolerance).

I am supprised that you are able to buy Maccasar for about $21 bd. ft. Than is WAY CHEAP! Buy every last bit of it that is usable at that price. $30-$35 is dirt cheap, and $50-$60 would be more "normal" retail.

Peace,Rich

Thanks for all the advices. I will definitely go with the band saw.

The reason I won't cut below 1/2" is because I will sand the slabs with a drum sander. It uses 80-grit paper. I can't change it because it's not mine. I can use it only. It takes about 1/32" per pass, which is a lot when you have about 10-12mm to deal with. I will finish it by hand with a smaller grit.

And it's actually Madagascar ebony, black as coal :D I've seen at least 30-40 good sized slabs.

SERIOUSLY, If that is good quality Madagascar ebony for about $21 bd. ft. BUY ALL OF IT. That is extreamly cheap, and you can easily resell it for much more. Madagascar Ebony is getting very very very difficult to come by, and is selling for premium prices now, and the supply on the market is getting lower. Most are forced to go with Gabon or Nigerian Ebony which is good, but definately not as prized as Madagascar. Resawing into fretboards is a piece of cake, and I am sure many guys around here would love to get their hands on good Mad. Eb. fretboards for a fair price. For your reference look here- LMI- ebony fretboards

A 4" slab of Ebony(if reasonably true) will yield 12 fretboards and at $50 that is a little over $4 per. board cost of material. Good quality Madagascar fretboards are currently running $25-30 each, second grade is still running like $18 or so. Even at second grade thats over $200 worth of fretboards, First quality is more like $300+. You can sell as many as you want at the drop of a hat for $15 each (as a favor to other builders). It is next to impossible to find that wood at twice that price if you bought in quantity.

Peace,Rich

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Don't forget that when resawing anything, the real key is to GO SLOW. 2-3 tpi works best for most applications IMHO.

By default that is solid advice.

What you are trying to do is allow the blade not so much to cut fresh material as much as clear the material out of the slot. If material builds up in the cut slot you run a risk of it building up a little more on one side or the other of the blade. That turns your blade like a rudder on a boat and your cuts are all over the place. Keep this in mind when you choose your blade, super low loss blades basically reduce the tooth set(how much wider the teeth cut than the blade). This effectively makes the blade more suseptable to small amounts of build up, and you get that rudder action going quicker than if the blade had a wider tooth set. When you use fewer teeth per inch, you are effectively slowing the cutting and allowing for more removal. You can get the same effect if not better by slowing down the feed rate. The only downside to going too slow is that you can increase heat, and you don't want to allow that to get out of control.

When I run Spruce(which can be a pain when it comes to clogging) and my woodmaster(1.3 TPI carbide, on my 18" saw). I run that material pretty fast. Say an 11" wide resaw 24" long in 5-10 seconds. If I run a piece of Cocobolo same dimensions with my Trimaster(2-3 TPI carbide on my 18" saw), I may slow it down to about 30-45 seconds. Same Cocobolo running a woodslicer(3/4 TPI bimetal on my 18" saw), I may take 2 minutes or more to run it. I slow everything down a tick on my 14" saw, but have to watch the temp closer as the blades are about 30% shorter. I don't really watch the clock when I cut, but if you listen to the saw you will hear when it is cutting clearly, and also when it is clogging. you should also watch your blade and guides for buildiup, as that can make your blade more subject to this rudder effect as well as building up on your guides turning the blade or binding(you definately will hear this).

Peace,Rich

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I know ebony is hard to come by. I usually buy my boards from LMII. Fortunetaly, they have a good stock of 1st grade Madagascar.

I'll take some pictures of the ebony stocks they have. Seriously, I never saw that much ebony in one shipment. They also have a lot of Macassar with nice brownish streaks.

Sure I can bought some and resell it. Problem is that we have very strict laws here in Canada about exporting exotic woods. Some brokers will do it, but they're gonna charge me a lot for it. The only way I can do it 'legally' is to precut some slabs and sell them as Musical Instruments Parts, like Stewmac or LMII do.

Anyway, I will try to get some information and let you guys know. I will be glad to resell some precut slabs.

Edited by MescaBug
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Ebony's not a controlled wood, last I checked....mahogany, brazilian rosewood, yes. Ebony, no.

not a controlled wood on the the world market; but our countries trade agreements tax the sh!t out of stuff like that;

i smuggelled 4 tops of zirocote and cocobollo taped under my seat into ontario; because when i tried to bring some burl over they told me i have to go to some natural resource desk or some crap and pay like 200$; so i just left it there;

BS or not, im not going thru that crap again :D

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