Simple carpentry question

sch9171August 2, 2008

I have a 16" piece of 2x4. I need to cut about 1/4" off of the wide side (so I really need a 1.25 x 3.5 x 16 piece of wood). What is the best way to do that? The guys at the hardware stores said they can't do it (at least not with any precision). I'd prefer a solution that doesn't require really expensive (or hard to store) tools, since this isn't something I'm going to do regularly, but I'm willing to buy a new tool if necessary (especially if it's relatively versatile).

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This is not the sort of task suited to small, inexpensive hand-held tools. If you need precision, then seek out someone with a surface planer and have them run it down for you.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2008 at 1:42PM
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Find someone with a table saw. It's a 20 second operation.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2008 at 4:31PM
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A surface planer would be the way to go although the knots in construction lumber can be hard on the knives. Is there a lumberyard (the kind that caters to woodworkers) in your area? They should have the correct tool and may be willing to plane your 2x4 for a modest fee.

My only other thought is to try Craig's list.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2008 at 8:23AM
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find a neighbor who owns a tablesaw. This truly is a 20 second operation

    Bookmark   August 3, 2008 at 12:59PM
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I have a lumber supplier who will rip cut or plane a piece of wood to size - you might have to shell out and buy the wood again in order to get the rip or planing done!

    Bookmark   August 4, 2008 at 8:50PM
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Depending on what you need it for, you could stack 3.5 x 16 pieces of plywood to get the 1.25. All you would need is some scrap plywood & a saw.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2008 at 11:09AM
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A tablesaw will do the job but is the least safe method. You mention being willing to buy a tool, a power planer will do the job quickly and safely and can be used for many other jobs (sticky doors, windows, knocking off corners, smoothing edges, etc...) Check out the link below.

If the piece is knot free a hand plane will take just a few minutes.

Good luck with your project ;-)

Here is a link that might be useful: Using a Power Planer

    Bookmark   August 14, 2008 at 3:58AM
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tablesaw, that is one of the things they are made for, long straight precision cuts. use a small block of wood as the push, NOT your fingers.

i have done it before with a skill saw, but that usually gives less than perfect straight edges.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2008 at 10:31AM
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I'm still sticking with my table saw. You'll have to pry it out of my cold, dead, fingers. Problem with planes, power or otherwise, is a tendency for the plane not to keep a straight line or square cut, unless you watch it very carefully and know how to correct or prevent deviations. I'll have it ripped on my table saw before you get it set up in a vice and have the plane ready to go.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2008 at 8:26PM
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just about 2 hours ago i took my table saw over to my parent;s house and ripped down 4 8' 1x6 boards for my stepdad. cut them into 2 strips, each 2 5/8" wide. this left a roughly 1/4 or so strip in the middle i had to cut out. same table saw did that job easily. so by cutting 2x per board i cut 64 linear feet in under 10 minutes, counting time it took to get the saw out of the truck, plugged up, guide set, blade height set, and put it all back up when done.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2008 at 9:34PM
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The OP obviously is not an accomplished carpenter therefore I was giving them the safest (important word) and easiest way to complete their task (not to mention the other benefits of the tool.) While the project can be done on a table saw by you or me, we are not there cutting for them. Just as you would not have someone who just got their license race in the Indy 500, I wouldnÂt give a novice a tricky task to do on what can be a very dangerous tool. Use your head boys, save your balls for bowling ;-)

    Bookmark   August 15, 2008 at 7:23PM
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tablesaws are just as safe as any other power tool. it was also suggested to take them TO someone with a saw. no one ever said to go an buy one just for this.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2008 at 8:30PM
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Not true. More injuries are caused by tablesaws (actually most by the people who use them) then any other power tool. Of all the people I know who own and use power tools, either for a living or as a hobby, none have ever lost any limbs or fingers from any of the tools they own except for the tablesaw. The worst injury from any other tool has been burns, scrapes, and small cuts.

Now the hammer is a whole other thing. I swear my thumb's at least 1/2" wider than it should be ;-)

    Bookmark   August 16, 2008 at 8:08AM
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that is what i mean, the table saw is dangerous JUST like all other power tools. and as you said almost as dangerous as the hammer!

but if use properly it is not unsafe as long as you pay attention. use a push board when the board gets cut too short for safety. keep fingers and loose clothing away from any moving parts.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2008 at 1:59PM
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Woodworking accounts for nearly 720,000 injuries per year. The table saw alone produces 42% of them, all other tools combined account for less than 60%. First you say table saws are "just as safe" then you say they are "as dangerous" as other tools. Make up your mind. I bet you vote for democrats too ;-)

Putting a 2x4 on the 1 1/2" edge and pushing it through a 10" blade traveling at over 100mph at full height (or even half height) with a pushstick is just begging for the piece to wobble and kickback. 2x4's are inherently twisted and warped (even short pieces) which could result in the piece getting jammed between the fence and the blade either ruining the motor or worse, resulting in kickback. This particular operation cannot be done with any guards in place (unless self made) greatly increasing the risk of injury.

Again, for the OP (which is why we are here) the best, and safest way to accomplish his task is to hand plane, power plane or ask a friend with a bench planer (or the like) to do it for him. For 1 piece I think it would be easiest to hand or power plane (power plane being a purchase that can be used/justified for other tasks)

Bragging about ripping 1x6Âs doesnÂt make cutting a 2x4 on edge any safer, even for a seasoned pro itÂs a dangerous task best avoided if possible.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2008 at 7:53PM
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I've worked with animals in a vet clinic, been a soldier, a teacher, a mechanic, a house builder, and a woodworker in my life.

I have owned/used four table saws, and have used several more belonging to other folks.

I have had three major injuries due to workplace situations---they were not accidents, since they happened because of MY inattention. I was burned when opening an overheated radiator(something I had done dozens of times before----and did dozens of times afterwards) because I was not paying attention.

I severely cut an index finger when trimming vinyl siding trim---with a box cutter(utility knife)----because I was not paying attention.

And I severely sprained my left wrist by stepping backwards into a hole while building a small porch---because I was not paying attention.

I know good woodworkers who would never even plug in a table saw without every available safety device in place. And some who toss the stock guards and do not use any.

Some people understand equipment and some have no clue. That is simply human nature. I know tools and physics---but can't do math for beans.

I once ripped 16' long pressure treated 2" by 4" boards on a small portable table saw just as the OP needs. However, I had outfeed rollers and an assistant who knew what I needed him to do. Was a brand new saw and I needed to rip seven boards. I had so much fun and was so impressed by the performance of the saw, I actually ripped 10 boards before I realized I was doing too many. (this was $400 portable---not a $100 model)

Raised the blade to half the necessary height(about 1&7/8") used the fence and two holddowns(to keep the boards against the fence) and a push block---I do NOT own nor use a push stick.

Was it safe? Yes, due to equipment and experience.

Would I have done the same with a $100 portable saw? No!
Tried once and failed, burnt out the saw motor.

Can the table saw be used safely for the job the OP asked about? Maybe---depemds on the saw, the available safety equipment and the experience of the user.

In my experience, that job is only done safely with a properly equipped table saw, planer(either hand power planer or larger) or a jointer by a user with experience using the tool.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2008 at 9:45PM
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what i meant by that was they are just as safe as other power tools, which are ALL dangerous. even a power planer that you suggest. both posts mean the exact same thing. a properly used power tool is safe as long as the user pratices safe use. but they are ALL is VERY dangerous to the inattentive user.

i have come much closer to being injured by a skill saw kicking back than i ever have by my tablesaw.

and BTW, i don't vote democrat. but we can save politacl discussions for other forums.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2008 at 11:40PM
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"More injuries are caused by tablesaws"

Are station wagons safer than sedans because they have fewer accidents?

    Bookmark   August 19, 2008 at 12:00AM
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I don't know, you should ask in the car forum.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2008 at 5:34AM
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I think you'd reduce your exposure to injury if, while ripping a 2x4 on edge on a table saw, you set the blade up about 1.75" and make the cut in two passes. That way the blade experiences less drag and isn't exposed for much of the cut. And if you don't have a 10 inch blade, you'll be doing this anyway. Hang on tight though, stand to the side and check what's behind you : you wouldn't want the 2x4 to get thrown back and fly into the neighbor's picture window. If you're a novice, a few practice cuts would be in order and maybe wear a pair of tight-fitting work gloves with rubber coated palms for gripping. Also, it might make sense to cut a board longer than what you need, as the extra length gives you more of a handle to hold. Then cross-cut it to the desired length.


    Bookmark   August 26, 2008 at 9:24PM
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If you can't find a safety-oriented neighbor/friend with a tablesaw, try the begging the woodshop at a local school to help you out.

(And the advice about only cutting half the depth at a time is good, in my opinion.)


    Bookmark   August 30, 2008 at 10:20AM
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I am reallly surprised by these postings. The table saw might be more common equipment, but to cut a 2 x 4 down in size on the 2" edge is not a job for a table saw. It is a job for a planer. IF you firmly attach the 2 x 4 up on end to another board that is laying on its side, then you could do it, but like a previous poster said, that is a lot of blade sticking out. I doubt if my saw could do this without disabling the guard. Certainly not something I would want to recommend a novice do since the OP is obviously not an experienced woodworker. Do not buy a table saw, do not borrow a table saw. Find a person that owns either a table saw (if they are really experienced enough to do this safely) or preferably a planer. . . . and let them cut this one piece for you. Don't let a well-meaning friend do this job on a table saw if they haven't done stuff like this enough times to convince you they know what they are doing- I wouldn't want to be responsible for a friend getting hurt. I would really like to know those: Would any of you experienced woodworkers really do this on a table saw? If you truly understand the tools and wood, I would think you would all say planer. Please let me know if I am wrong!!

    Bookmark   August 31, 2008 at 12:56PM
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Nobody thought of using a bandsaw? Easy to use and nowhere near as dangerous as a tablesaw.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2008 at 9:06AM
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If you could sneak the whole 16" through a band saw that would be the best solution, also as long as you can keep a straight cut. But there's nothing so safe about a band saw either, I worked in the meat industry for years and band saws were legendary in their hunger for fingers.

We've ripped a 2 x 4 like this on the cheap saw we use on framing jobs, albeit, not an entire length, but a short piece like the OP speaks of. You run it through on one side and turn it over and run through on the other side.

NEVER wear gloves when using a table saw or any other power tools with a spinning blade or turning knives!

    Bookmark   September 10, 2008 at 11:02PM
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