What tools do I need to turn a small log (10in/ 25cm diameter) into 1/4″/6.5mm thick boards?

If your log is green wood (freshly cut, or “wet”), you will need a bandsaw with a throat larger than 10″ (and capable of dealing with the irregularity in a long 10″ diameter log).

I would recommend (on the modest side) a 14″ – 18″ bandsaw like this one by Laguna Tools:

Laguna 18″ bandsaw

Then you would need a sled, or carriage to transport the log through the bandsaw.

This is a homemade log cutting jig for short logs: Super Simple Band Saw Log Sled, from Instructables.

If your log is long, you will need to make a support or rails so it will slide evenly through the saw without binging or cutting at an angle or curve.

https://amzn.to/2ECgytEIf your logs are larger then 10″ and heavy, your best solution is to purchase a small sawmill.  This book is available on Amazon, and worth reading, so that you understand the principles and capabilities of a portable saw mill.

If the log is green, you have to allow for drying and shrinkage, so you may cut the pieces 1/2′ thick and then use a thickness planer to get it to the final 1/4″ thickness, after allowing the wood to dry to dry. (8–10% moisture content before planing). This is some good information on how to dry wood; Cutting And Drying Logs Into Boards – Woodworkers guild of America.

after the wood is dried to 6-10% moisture content, you will need a thickness planer.  Thickness Planers are available from big box stores, Amazon, and eBay.

After the wood is sized to thickness, you will need a jointer and a table saw to clean up a long edge and square the board.

At this point your 1/4″ S4S (surfaced 4 sides) boards are ready for fabrication.

Some caveats: These are powerful machines, and caution must be exercised with each machining operation. Use protective gear like safety glasses, ear protection, dust protection, and gloves. Make sure you have all the machines setup and working correctly, and make test passes before machining all the wood, so the slabs will be uniform and true. (parallel sides).

Depending on your specific application, you may need a larger bandsaw, a tablesaw, a jointer, and more – especially if you make the jigs and supporting tables yourself.

Thank you for reading, and Have fun making your own boards from logs!

Disclaimer: I am a trained woodworker and have my own blog, The Chenkin Workshop

What gives a cleaner cut on plywood, a quality table saw, or a track saw?

I have to admit I have a bias here.

 Makita SP6000J1 6-1/2-Inch Plunge Circular Saw with Guide Rail

Makita SP6000J1 6-1/2-Inch Plunge Circular Saw with Guide Rail (aka “Track saw”)

If you are cutting LARGE sheets and have sawhorses (and a good “reach”), a track saw will be faster and easier than passing a 4′ x 8′ sheet of plywood over the blade of a table saw, and give a decent cut (provided the blade is sharp, with the correct number of teeth, and the operator is skilled).

For almost everything else, a properly aligned and set up table saw will do Much much more than a track saw. Here is my bias – I view a track saw as a “one trick pony”. I use an aluminium guide or a really straight board when I cut a plywood sheet. It’s fast and easy, and you can “dress” the edge afterwards. I also don’t have to store a single purpose tool just for these occasions – my skilsaw, guide, and clamps are easy to get to.

13 pointers for perfect plywood cuts – woodworking magazine

Bonus comment:

If you are cutting a lot of 4×8 sheets, the track saw can slow you down, compared to this baby:

Some of them even have a mount for a router, (or you can convert it), and you get very high quality cuts.
I owned a cabinet shop, and your plywood could slide vertically into this saw (it just takes up wall space), and you can stack the finished parts on a cart, ready for the next step

Little Giant PTC-2436-5PY Steel Panel Truck with Swivel Casters and Carpeted End, 1000 lbs Load Capacity, 24" Width x 36" Length

(banding/sanding/drilling). A decent panel saw costs more than a track saw, about as much as a good table saw.

Keep in mind that you have to determine what your shop does, when you consider the cost, and factor in any savings in time.

E. Emerson Tool Co. C50 50-Inch All-In-One Contractor Straight Edge Clamping Tool Guide

To Recap, either saw will cut clean if it has a sharp blade and is setup and used properly, but you have to determine your needs based on what you build. I have a bias towards the table saw and a good panel saw.

Best of luck with your cutting, and remember to wear a mask and eye protection!