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 would it take to make a living off of building and selling things from reclaimed wood?

Alan Chenkin, Owned a cabinet shop for 10 years, is an avid woodworker.


Commitment, Good tools, and a creative mind.

If you look carefully, there are lots of sources of free wood.  Pallets are readily available in most areas, but Don’t underestimate the time necessary to find usable pallets (ones not treated with chemicals, etc.) and you have to deconstruct them – it takes lots of effort and you lose a lot of usable wood or saw blades, etc. 

Vergo Industrial Pallet Buster / Pallet Breaker - Premium Steel with Handle, 41"
Once you have the pallet broken down, you need to make the wood usable for your project; sanding, planing, squaring, etc. -all time-consuming steps, and pallets have nails, embedded pebbles, etc., that can come flying out. Wear protective gear! Amazon.com: protective goggles and gloves: Tools & Home Improvement
There are other reclaimed woods, like Barn wood, wood from demolished sheds and houses, but the same rules apply; you have to cut out unusable pieces, and mill the rest to usable dimensions.  Amazon even sells Reclaimed Wood boards, if you want to skip the effort of conditioning the boards yourself!
Make a few pieces, finish them, calculate your time (IT WILL TAKE LONGER) and put them on Etsy, Pinterest, etc. Keep good records. It can be done, but it may not be easy to make PROFIT. The material may be free, but your time is not.  Repurposing old pallets is a very green thing to do, and that does have a benefit to the planet.
Consider reading:
Good luck, and Thank you for reading my blog!  Feel free to share!