Gang vs. straight line rip saws

Cutting straight blanks efficiently. January 16, 2001

Iím putting my Weinig Profomat to work running trim for builders. My question concerns the most efficient means of ripping the straightest blanks possible.

I'm tempted to go the straight line route because of price, but one thing has me worried. After the lumber is straight-lined and I go to use the fence to rip the blank to final width, I'm afraid if I don't start feeding it just right the chain will capture and wedge it. Is it possible to "guide" the board against the fence as it's being fed? Iíve seen a four foot fence, but I don't know if even that would be enough while feeding a 16 foot board at high speed.

As for the gang rip, is it a pain to change over for different widths? Any other pros and cons of the two types of saws?

Forum Responses
Unless you are going to do a lot of lineal feet, stay with the straight rip saw. We have an old Ekstrom-Carlson and it does a fine job. With the gang saw, you still have to hold up against the fence, and it is awful hard to rip away from the defect.

As for straight lumber, that has more to do with the drying than the saw. Some of the lumber you will get in will be case hardened and will bow after the cut has been completed.

You need to get a laser light to help cut around defects and avoid wedge cuts. Also, if your average volumes are above 200 lineal feet, investigate the new small gang ripsaw from Raimann, which includes a special multi-blade locking system. This avoids using pre-set sleeves and can easily be used with a single blade like straight line for flexibility, or multi-blade gang rip to save labor.

When running a moulder, the wood should be well prepared so the machine doesnít have to remove an excessive amount of material. The better the rip, the less oversize that must be allowed. This gives you more yield. You need to remove at least .020" with each cutter that is running.

For older straight line rip saws, it is hard to beat a Diehl or Mattison. For ripping for moulders, the condition of the chain and race are not as important as for doing glue lines. However, the better the chain and race, the less wood must be allowed.

As for new saws, the Mereen-Johnson is good. Before you select your saw, consider what it will cost to use in the long run.

Dave Rankin, forum technical advisor

It is very possible to lose control of the board, but the cool thing about straight line rip saws versus gang rip saws is their simplicity. I ran a very old Mattison straight line and for the first week I would loose long boards because they would come away. So I got a couple of rollers on each side of the table and practiced. The only wood I would lose after that was from bad first cuts. The fence on this machine was the length of the tableó4 feet. I doubt a longer fence would have really helped much on long wood.