I am a newbie, and wanted your advice on the necessary setup to achieve the following: I want to cut slices (around 5 mm thick) off manzanita stems (dried and cured). The wood, as you know, is very fine grained, and hard to cut with a handsaw. I want to make handles for knives and other tools of these slices. The stems are round in cross section, about two inches in diameter, and six inches long. Maybe a vise and fine kerfed rotary saw? Please advise. – Sam M.
Rob Johnstone: In my shop, I’d use my jointer to form a flat aspect to the round manzanita pieces, then I’d step over to my band saw and carefully rip the 5mm-thick slices from the piece. If you don’t have those tools to use, I think my choice would be one of those common Japanese hand saws with a fine tooth pattern on one side and coarse teeth on the other. I’d use the coarse teeth and a good bit of patience.
Chris Marshall: I agree with Rob. A band saw would be the simplest power tool solution here. Even an economical benchtop bandsaw would work fine — and a band saw would be a great tool to add to your shop for all sorts of projects down the road. If the stems are pretty straight, I’d probably make a simple moveable cutoff sled for the saw’s table. I’d equip it with a couple of vertical supports with “V” shaped notches on top to hold the stems stationary while I cut them to length. You might be able to slice them using a miter saw, but unless you can clamp the stems down securely, the rotating blade could grab and spin them during cutting. It would be unsafe. So, my vote: band saw.