Sawing Bevel Siding

Sawmillers discuss how to produce clapboard siding. June 9, 2007

I am milling 30 inch engleman spruce logs and getting some clear faced 6x6 cants. My intent is to make vertical grain clear clapboards by re-sawing the cants. I expect to use these personally, as I do not know of a market. Is this the highest and best use of these logs? I got them at a good price and have not come up with a better answer. Also, is it more effective to mill the clapboards from the cant or mill boards to 6/4 and resaw slicing the boards in angled halves? I have a band saw.

Forum Responses
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
From contributor R:
I would do the operation solely on the bandmill. You already have the cant on the mill, so shim the cant to the desired angle for your siding and make your first cut. Now that the top is cut on a bevel, you can remove the shims and set the cant flat on the rails, drop the blade down, and make another cut. Use one of the pieces you just cut as a full length shim to tilt your cant again and make another cut. I think that handling the cant on the mill is easier than removing all the boards from the mill, moving them into your shop, setting up a jig and resawing them on your bandsaw. Also, if you get any bow when the boards come off the cant, it will make them more difficult to resaw accurately.

From contributor A:
I have found that it is easiest for me to saw 1 1/8 thick boards for 6 inch siding and then notch and split. I saw the boards and sticker them to allow them to dry and to see if any will warp. Then I take them to the shaper and notch out a 1/4 x 3/4 notch in opposite corners. Then I put my resaw on the mill and split them by pushing them nose to tail through the blade. Two people can split about 80 to 90 boards an hour. Then I end up with a product like in the photo. You can also square one end on a chop saw while it is a board and have a square end to start with.

From contributor C:
Old timers like me call that siding "Dolly Varden." I have no idea why, but it has been called that here for longer than I have been in the business. Some people call it bevel siding with dado. Do you have a specific name for it? Just curious in Michigan.

From contributor A:
Some call it drop siding, but that covers several styles. Bevel siding is what I sell it under, whether it is notched or not. Clap board is just a board nailed to overlap the one below. I make this bevel siding in oak, pine, and ERC.

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Comment from contributor B:
I do it with my bandmill. I use 5 1/2" cants of poplar or even cottonwood. Then I just clamp them in place and start mowing them down in half-inch increments. After accounting for the 1/8" kerf, that gives me a 5 1/2" X 3/8" board which I then sticker and air dry. Start at the bottom of your run with a small shim/spacer to give your bottom board an angle and then start nailing them on. Use a four inch reveal and don't forget to snap some chalk lines to guide you. They look great and it's fast - especially if you use an air nailer. Be careful and make sure to wear eye protection.