Roughening Cedar Boards

We know about planing rough lumber smooth. But how do you make smooth lumber rough? April 30, 2006

I am a cabinetmaker and I have a project to build out of cedar. The local lumber yard sells cedar boards that are smooth on one side and rough on the other. This project calls for some of the boards to be rough on both sides. Can anyone tell me what how they make rough cedar 'rough'? Itís not saw marks on the wood but a uniform roughness!

Forum Responses
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
From contributor A:
I have a sawmill business and sell rough sawn cedar. I would suggest that the roughness you mention comes from the sawing process. If it's a uniform texture, the saw blade was sharp. When the blade gets dull or hits something, the texture becomes rougher and has lines in it.

From contributor B:
As Contributor A said, they didn't make one side rough - they made one side smooth with a planer after milling. Cedar is soft - it mills without saw marks, just a rough texture.

From contributor C:
This is something that a lot of carpenters run into in building houses. Just take a hand saw or a reciprocating saw, like a sawsall, and lay the blade flat against the smooth side you want to rough up. The power tool approach is faster but easier to mess up as well. With practice and different blade types you can get several different effects, so practice a little before you do it to your best cedar board.

From contributor D:
I have used the sawsall trick and it works well. Just use a regular blade, not hollow ground. You need the ones where the teeth are bent out to the side. Lay the blade down flat on the surface and slide it backwards so you donít cut into the board. It will take a couple passes to rough it up. Use a slow speed on the saw. Very slow!!

From contributor E:
You can buy Western Red Cedar that is KD, then planed with the edges and one side smooth and the other side is "roughed" with a roughing head. This makes the boards perfectly uniform from one to the next. It is quite common and could be what you have found in your local lumber store.

From the original questioner:
The roughness I have is uniform and the pattern runs horizontal with the grain. I tried to duplicate it with a bandsaw but no luck. To Contributor E: What is a roughing head? Can I make something to duplicate the look?

From contributor E:
I really don't know what the roughing head looks like. I have just seen a lot of Cedar with the look you described, and when I asked about it they gave me the information that I passed on. The lumber I am talking about came from British Columbia.

From contributor F:
The mill may have started with a rough 2 x whatever, surfaced it s4s, then resawn it down the middle to get the S1S2E with a resawn face.

From contributor E:
Not the lumber I have seen. It is obvious that it is not a saw blade cut - band or circle.

From contributor G:
I have done several jobs that require rough lumber. I made a jig on the bandsaw that worked well. Let me see if I can describe it:

Take a piece of lumber and cut on an angle of about 15 degrees. Don't cut all the way through the piece but deep enough that you can fit the width of the bandsaw blade in the cut. Put the cut piece in the blade with only about a sixteenth of the teeth sticking out. This will form an angled fence. If you run the board across the blade it will rough up the face of the board. You can adjust how rough the board will be by how much of the blade you leave sticking out of the angled fence.

From the original questioner:
I found the answer to uniform roughness on cedar. After calling several cedar mills in BC Canada I was directed to a mill tooling company. The process is called comb-face. They run the boards through a planer with 3 heads. The last head has serrated knives, like a fine tooth saw blade. Thatís why the pattern runs the length of the board. Thanks for all the input - now I'll have my old planer knifes serrated!