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Richard M. Wolfe
04-29-2009, 3:37 PM
We occasionally have a job requiring cutting a large timber as square as possible. The last one done was a cedar beam 15 feet long and six inches across (an interior structural member). I've been informed there is a job coming up for a number of corbels and the ends need to be smooth and square to the other faces.

We have done it before by cutting halfway with a beam saw, rotating and finishing the cut, but you can see how handling a large beam is a pain. Plus the beam saw does have some deflection. Usually they are used to do pretty rough cuts, as in logs for log cabin design buildings.

It sure would be nice if some kind of saw could be found that would make a smooth cut (up to eight inches) in one single pass.....and of course without costing an arm and a leg. :rolleyes: Anyone have any ideas? Thanks.

David Hite
04-29-2009, 5:48 PM
You could cut it to rough length with a chain saw, then wrap a frame around the end for a router to ride on. That would get it square, but it would still be a pain.

John Callahan
04-29-2009, 5:59 PM
Would the big Makita (5402?) do the job? Iirc it will cut a little over 6".

Bill Petersen
04-29-2009, 6:03 PM
Possibly?? Support the beam perfectly level and use a bandsaw mounted on a smooth moving mobile base to make the cut. The bandsaw could be guided along a "fence" fastened to the floor.

Not my original idea. Saw Norm do it once on This Old House to cut a decorative end on a large beam. Sort of bringing the mountain to Mohammed.

Bill

Brian Willan
04-29-2009, 7:13 PM
While probably not the most ideal way to do a large number of beam ends, I think a reciprocating saw with a long blade could do the job.

Of course there is the neander method of using a buck saw in this case.

I believe you can get special attachments for circular saws that allow it to use a chainsaw bar. IIRC, they are used with SIPS panel processing.

Cheers

Brian

Julian Nicks
04-29-2009, 7:19 PM
He's talking about a prazi beam cutter. That might just be what you're looking for. It mounts to your circular saw, and turns it into a fence guided chainsaw.

Simon Dupay
04-29-2009, 9:13 PM
A BIG pop-up saw (Whirlwind saw) or big RAS would do the trick.

Jim Kountz
04-29-2009, 9:15 PM
The Prazi will get the job done however I wouldnt at all call the cut smooth. It can be made to cut square but not smooth. I have one of these and have logged many hours with it. I also have the big Makita but like someone else pointed out I think about 6" maybe 6 1/2 is about max on it. Cant remember for sure.
A two man crosscut saw does an excellent job and gives you that ol time feeling when you use it!!

Larry Edgerton
04-29-2009, 10:25 PM
What about rough cutting to length and finishing up with a Portaband? I have one but have not cut wood with it, but see no reason that it would not work. They are quite controlable after a little practice. The Big Makitas will cut 6 1/4", and the cut is unreal for a skill saw, sandable very easily. Maybe a combination of the two.

I do a fair amount of post and beam work and I do most of it with the Makita and course ryoba saws.

Wish I could help you with that one, I love working large parts.

Mark Boyette
04-29-2009, 10:29 PM
20" radial arm would give you a nice cut but it's a pricey piece of equipment.

Kevin Groenke
04-29-2009, 10:55 PM
Possibly?? Support the beam perfectly level and use a bandsaw mounted on a smooth moving mobile base to make the cut. The bandsaw could be guided along a "fence" fastened to the floor.

Not my original idea. Saw Norm do it once on This Old House to cut a decorative end on a large beam. Sort of bringing the mountain to Mohammed.

Bill


This is an excellent idea. One could even go so far as to mounting v-notched, non-swivel casters on the saw base and setting the saw on 2 pieces of angle iron . This would give a new meaning to track-saw. I've seen this technique used at Structural Wood http://www.structural-wood.com/

or, you could just buy one of these:
http://www.timbertools.com/Images/Dario/media-bandsaw-300.jpghttp://www.timbertools.com/Images/HEMA/HEMAbandsaw150.jpg
http://www.timbertools.com/Products/bandsaws.html

Yeah, definitely buy one of those, I know I need one.

-kg

Cliff Rohrabacher
04-29-2009, 10:57 PM
There is an attachment for the SkillSaw worm drive ( the big one) that is called the Big Foot It's made exactly for such timber framing operations
http://www.bigfootsaws.com/newsite/distributors.html

and then there's this:
117125
Prazi USA PR7000 Beam Cutter for 7-1/4-Inch Worm Drive Saws

Peter Quinn
04-29-2009, 11:16 PM
Call me crazy, but are all these machines necessary? I'm thinking a kerf with a skill saw carefully laid out and finishing the cut with a sharp hand saw. It may be harder to find a decent hand saw these days, but they are relatively cheap, they do work when tuned, and much easier to move to a job site than a 24" RAS, which will also work.

I don't think a whirlwind up cut will do 24/4 timbers, at least the one I use at work won't. I like the band saw idea though I wonder what type of track system would be required to get that dead square cut you are looking for. I can tell you my mobile base wouldn't do it. I keep coming back to the hand saw.

Jim McCarty
04-30-2009, 12:26 AM
I have a like new Makita beam saw with 2 blades that hasn't made over 10 cuts. It has a teflon coated steel blade and a Makita carbide blade that is like new and super sharp. I bought it for a job I did several years ago and it did a beautiful job. The carbide blade is thicker and doesn't deflect. I'm retiring now and selling off a few tools. Let me know if you're interested. Jim

john bateman
04-30-2009, 10:54 AM
Do a google search for WEN ALL SAW. I don't think they make them anymore, but I got a like-new one on ebay for $20. They're sort of like a large jig saw, but you can put reciprocating saw blades in them...including those long, rough-cutting blades.
http://i3.iofferphoto.com/img/item/975/412/21/o_GNPbft7CcRF8Cmb.jpg

Michael Wildt
04-30-2009, 11:02 AM
A interesting videos for different type of saws. Lists some interesting features that may be useful to think about even if you're not getting this particular $$ model.

http://www.timberwolftools.com/tools/kind/beamsaws.html
http://www.timberwolftools.com/tools/mafell/MAF-MKS185Ec.html
http://www.timberwolftools.com/tools/mafell/MAF-ZSXEc400HM.html

Neil Bosdet
04-30-2009, 11:03 AM
I'm cutting 8" x 16" beams for my house and we're using a 8.5" circular saw laid out carefully and finishing with a recip saw. Works pretty good. I've got about 100 or so cuts to make but hardly worth spending a fortune on a tool that won't get used again. I'm using a grinder with an abrasive disk on all parts of the beams for a hand-hewn look but you could simply hit the end with a sander to clean up the cut.

Larry Edgerton
04-30-2009, 8:15 PM
I was thinking back today to a job I did that the beams were too big for the 16" Makita, and what I did was keep rolling them 90 degrees and using the old cut as a guide. With a blade that large and a kerf that tight , once you get a Big Mike started in the cut you can't turn it if you want to. So you could cut 12" with out issue by rolling 90 and cutting, rolling 90 and finishing the cut.

phil harold
05-01-2009, 8:02 AM
A two man crosscut saw does an excellent job and gives you that ol time feeling when you use it!!

+1 for this handsaw method

Prashun Patel
05-01-2009, 10:04 AM
Call me crazy, but are all these machines necessary? I'm thinking a kerf with a skill saw carefully laid out and finishing the cut with a sharp hand saw.

I'm with Peter. In fact, you don't even have to lay out the kerf with a circular saw.

Mark the cut line and clamp a square guide to the line. this will guide your handsaw straight.

Then use a sharp Japanese pull saw. It'll cut quickly and provide the necessary control and smoothness. Once the kerf is deep enough, it'll guide itself thru the rest of the cut. Smooth it with 120gt and yr done. If you're not joining these beams end for end, there's no reason to make it any more precise than this.

I resawed a 14" thick, 24" LOG this way. It was surprisingly quick and accurate. While I'll never cut a log this way again, I think it'll work FINE on a dry, smaller beams

Kevin Hartnett
05-01-2009, 10:10 AM
The Japanese do this all the time with hand tools. I can't give you an exact tool name, but if you google Japanese hand saws you might find something useful. Good luck.

Peter Quinn
05-01-2009, 9:38 PM
I spent half the day at a timber framer's shop having some work done for the shop I'm at that he was more equipped to handle. We are making parts for a pergola type thing with rafter tails that have a large swooping ogee that terminates in a birds mouth, the whole thing starts with 15 degree angle cut. Typical pergola look but supersized.

We are pushing the 7'-10' 4X6 material through the band saw, but the 24' 6X8 beams were going to be a problem. Not for this guy. Timberframe portable band saw, several large circular saws, the biggest I think was 24"? Pretty clean cuts. We talked a bit about precision and timbers, he seemed to feel less inclined toward applying cabinet maker standards to timber construction than he did when he was younger. Ends check, gaps appear, nobody notices minor details on the scale at which he typically builds.

Anyway fun outing for me getting out of the cabinet shop and working in a timber framer's barn work shop. He made pretty square very clean cuts with that big Makita I'll tell you, which is good, cause we were trying to figure out how to get a 24' beam on a 10' panel saw for days!:D

Bruce Wrenn
05-01-2009, 11:02 PM
In the summer of 1967, I worked in a laminated bean production facility. We had a band saw on wheels that we used to square the ends of beams. Took less than five minutes to do a 60" wide beam, that was about 8" thick, southern yellow pine.

Cody Colston
05-02-2009, 12:04 AM
A one-man crosscut saw. They cut fast, don't require any electricity and are cheap compared to a power saw.

Ken Fitzgerald
05-02-2009, 12:08 AM
Years ago IIRC there was a contractor here involved in a similar thing. He put rollers on his bandsaw and moved the bandsaw and kept the material properly supported.

Jonah Decker
05-02-2009, 12:41 AM
Without shelling the money out for the Prazi or Bigfoot (won't cut 8 in in one pass). Cut 4 sides on a line with standard circular saw finish cut with sawzall then smooth and square up with a sander pad on a 4 in grinder. If you are butting one timber to another you can even hollow out the middle slightly then draw it tight with and oly (timber screw) so that the outside edge crushes for a nice tight joint.

Mark Norman
05-02-2009, 12:50 AM
Without shelling the money out for the Prazi or Bigfoot (won't cut 8 in in one pass). Cut 4 sides on a line with standard circular saw finish cut with sawzall then smooth and square up with a sander pad on a 4 in grinder. If you are butting one timber to another you can even hollow out the middle slightly then draw it tight with and oly (timber screw) so that the outside edge crushes for a nice tight joint.
Yep!!!

That's been my method for many medium to large beams (6 X 10 to 8 X 16) building decks and Arbors.

jefferson Davis, jr.
08-23-2009, 6:09 PM
I am fortunate to have a job building some large, heavy tables for a local restaurant and I am using some reclaimed hewed oak beams (approximately 10" x 12") to build the column of the base. Thus far, I have used a chain saw to rough cut the beams into 40" high columns - my final height on these pieces will be 37". I now need to figure out how to make the ends flat and square to attach to the circular top and base. This thread seems to be close to what I am dealing with but before I try some of the suggestions, I wondered if anyone had specific ideas for this project. Thanks.

Neil Bosdet
08-23-2009, 8:12 PM
I am fortunate to have a job building some large, heavy tables for a local restaurant and I am using some reclaimed hewed oak beams (approximately 10" x 12") to build the column of the base. Thus far, I have used a chain saw to rough cut the beams into 40" high columns - my final height on these pieces will be 37". I now need to figure out how to make the ends flat and square to attach to the circular top and base. This thread seems to be close to what I am dealing with but before I try some of the suggestions, I wondered if anyone had specific ideas for this project. Thanks.

How is your budget on this job? If your client is willing, I'd consider having some wrought iron mounting brackets made. Make them to fit the post and then have a circular rim to mount the table top from below. Any imperfections in the post cut could be shimmed and supported without seeing it.

Scott T Smith
08-23-2009, 11:23 PM
It sure would be nice if some kind of saw could be found that would make a smooth cut (up to eight inches) in one single pass.....and of course without costing an arm and a leg. :rolleyes: Anyone have any ideas? Thanks.


Richard, I have one of the 16-1/2" Makita circular saws, and it works extremely well.

Another tool that I've used is my Ellis metal cutting band saw. It's good for up to 9" square (and you can go beyond that by fudging a little), and with the right blade it leaves a very nice finish. Not quite as nice of a finish as the Makita, but a heck of a lot smoother than the Prazi (I also have one of those).

Scott

William Falberg
08-24-2009, 9:46 AM
Another view:

http://i282.photobucket.com/albums/kk264/falbergsawco/PBChopzilla-1.jpg

The less expensive alternative, of course, would be the Elf. At least less than the other portable bandsaws that were linked to previously.

For a one-time deal; why not just use a sawz-all?

William Falberg
08-24-2009, 9:57 AM
http://s282.photobucket.com/albums/kk264/falbergsawco/?action=view&current=PBChopzilla-.jpg

jefferson Davis, jr.
08-24-2009, 3:52 PM
Thanks. My columns are plumb, square and flat after several hours of hand work with saws, planes and chisels and a little shimming at the joints.