Straight Line Ripping on Two Edges

Cabinetmakers discuss the difficulty, cost, benefits, and drawbacks of buying lumber that has been straight line ripped on two edges or buying the equipment and doing it yourself. October 13, 2012

Is it possible to straight line rip lumber on two edges? I've had this conversation a couple of times with my lumber supplier. He says only SLR1E is possible. I realize there is the possibility of taper to the board, but seems a moot point if the panel is being squared and sized after glue up. I make a good quantity of doors every week, bring in the material straightlined one edge, but ripping the other edge off is a drag on operations. There has to be a better way.

I would like to purchase the material SLR on both edges, cut oversize on length, glue, go in RF press, and square and size on the Striebig. Is this possible?

I have brought it all in gang ripped to 2 5/8" Works fine, but you have to be extra careful on color matching, and excessive material waste due to the amount of edgings (1-2 1/4" wide in most cases) that you just don't get if it comes in surfaced and SL.

Is my current supplier correct on the inability to SL one edge, flip, return and SL the opposite edge? Otherwise great supplier - nice material, fast delivery (next day 5 days a week - sheet goods, gang ripped lumber, moulding), and fair pricing. How are you guys sawing, ready for glue up (I prefer a sawn edge not jointed), for glued blanks?

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor B:
The simplest solution to your problem would be to buy your own SLR, end of issue. I would never glue an edge that wasn't a fresh cut.

From the original questioner:
I appreciate the response. I really would prefer not to purchase a SLR saw, because:

1- I primarily am a one man shop (help may or may not show up, mostly not), leaving me to handle and tail all the material alone.

2- My lumber supplier does a great job of delivery. They have two mills east and west of my location, so they are through here every day, even if it's just a transfer between yards.

Called in by 2pm, I can order SLR'ed, gang ripped, surfaced, whatever, and it's here next day, usually before lunchtime. It would be difficult for me to cut it in house fresher than that, and I agree with getting the material glued while fresh cut, which usually means a late evening shift for me on glue up day.

If I can SLR two edges here, is it possible for them to do it there? If not, I see no real advantage to owning and maintaining the SLR saw. So are you saying it is possible to SLR both edges on a SLR saw? I don't see how it would be any different than processing 1E, with the exception, and expectation, of taper, which would be eliminated after glue up, at the panel saw.

Though I've never operated a SLR saw, my gut tells me it is possible, they just haven't had any request for it, surfaced and SLR1E being most commonly requested. Kind of the "we've never done that before" mentality on the part of the mill supervisor.

If it is possible, I want to have a sit down with their mill supervisor or GM, and get it done.

From contributor D:
The straight line rip saw in the shop I worked in a while back had a fence, so you could straight line 1 edge, then butt that edge to the fence and dimension cut that stock. Repeat until the stock is used up and start a new piece. Wasn't a big deal.

From the original questioner:
That's basically what I'm doing now on a Powermatic 66 with 3 roll feeder. I can get a lot better material yield doing so, but it requires measuring each board for max width and moving the fence a lot, sending labor into the stratosphere.

Is SLR2E possible or no? Anybody doing what I'm suggesting?

My supplier has a very minimal charge for SLR, like .12bf. I can't put my hands on the boards for that. I purchase stile material gang ripped now. Purchasing SLR2E would mean cutting oversize to length on the way to the RF press, without all the monkey fiddling and dust collection/scrap mess in between.

From contributor D:
1 edge or 2, the saw doesn't care. An edge is an edge. If I asked the guys at the shop that mills my lumber to straight line both edges they would just shrug and do it. With your supplier it might be a matter of logistics. If their turnaround time is as quick as you say, they are probably a pretty streamlined operation and edging both edges might be disruptive. Just guessing. But yes, it can be done easily.

From contributor R:
The biggest drawback for them to sl2e is using random width lumber. Your waste factor is going to be huge. Sending the piece back through the rip saw again, you have no way of holding any size consistency. Ask your supplier to price out having stock ripped to 1 or 2 sizes.

From the original questioner:
Thanks for the info. I know it doesn't seem like a big deal, unless you're feeding and tailing 600-1000 bf alone. Then even cleaning up the edgings and scraps is a huge problem. I have other things I'd rather do than stand in front of a table saw eating wood splinters all day, trying for a net gain of 80 bucks.

From contributor B:
First off, it can be SLR'ed on both edges if the yard will do it. Especially if you do not care if it is tapered. Second, if you did get a SLR, you would be astounded at what it will do compared to your table saw and feeder. It's like a jig saw to a band saw. I do not use an offbearer person with my SLR; I prefer to do it myself. One man shop. Since you have never had one, you really do not have a clue at what it can do and how fast it can do it. No offense intended.

From the original questioner:
Not very concerned with consistent width, just want the bark edge sawn off. I plan to remove any taper from the blank after glue up. Most SLR1E I get in needs no more than 1/4-3/8" sawn off of it to yield two glueable edges. Next load I get will be edged both sides and can then gauge the results.

From contributor L:
7 years ago I finally bought a SL rip saw. Best thing I've done in a while. I get a better yield than the supplier did because my guys care about yield. 2 edges or one doesn't matter, just that the 2nd edge won't necessarily be parallel with the first. We usually have 2 guys on the rip saw - one board is being returned while the next is being cut. Our saw is an Extrema and has been very good. We used to joint on a 16" machine, then rip with a feed on a 10hp 12/14" table saw. The rip saw is much better.

From contributor M:
You certainly can get the stock ripped 2 edges on the slr saw by your supplier. You are correct that they can do it more cost effectively. A few things to discuss that will improve the product to you and save money on yield: Buying the shortest, widest stock available will help minimize loss due to sidebend and make it easier for the operator to reduce taper, and a laser light on the slr will help get max yield on the first cut as well as get semi parallel and close to the second edge. If no laser, moving the fence on the second cut for each board works. Crosscut boards that have crook side bend before ripping, so make sure the blade on saw is giving glue line rip.

From contributor W:
Seems like your waste factor would be higher on the second side, since they SLR the better side to begin with. My suppliers average a 7% waste factor in SLR , so more than double the waste and at a higher cost. Ask your supplier for S4S in random widths and lengths, then you will know which way is more costly.

From contributor J:
I'm not sure why they wouldn't rip both sides for you? Maybe there's a miscommunication. They think you're asking for one thing and not understanding what you really need?

For what it's worth, you/they don't need the fence on an SLR. The shop I used to work in used a laser mounted to the machine. This allows you to line up where you want the cut with the laser line, and just clean edges off all day long without worrying about moving a fence for different widths. I'd be very surprised if a lumber supplier of that size didn't have one on their machine.

Talk to the guys at the yard and explain what you're looking for and I'm sure they'll take care of you. As the others said, they may be worried about providing tapered pieces, but if you don't care..?

From contributor G:
When buying lumber SLI1E or SLR2E, you are going to pay for the waste either way. If you do it yourself or part of it yourself, you are also going to pay for the waste. You can save on waste if you straight edge both edges (not using the fence) and alternate the tapers of each board.

My guess is you will burn up more labor than lumber savings doing so, but I have never tried it. We SLR then use the fence to rip parallel to max width. You also lose some grain matching options if you have to alternate tapers.

Without a fence on a SLR you are using the saw to less than half of its potential. Normally one would SLR then use the fence (often times preset) to rip to width.