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Thread: Cutting beam ends

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Stephenville, TX
    Posts
    914

    Cutting beam ends

    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. Anyone have any ideas? Thanks.
    And now for something completely different....

  2. #2
    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.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Wisconsin
    Posts
    265
    Would the big Makita (5402?) do the job? Iirc it will cut a little over 6".

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    New Harmony, UT
    Posts
    106
    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

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Oshawa, Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    70
    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

  6. #6
    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.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Roseville, MN
    Posts
    298
    A BIG pop-up saw (Whirlwind saw) or big RAS would do the trick.

  8. #8
    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!!
    If at first you don't succeed, look in the trash for the instructions.





  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Northern Michigan
    Posts
    2,991
    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.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Cleveland, Ohio
    Posts
    102
    20" radial arm would give you a nice cut but it's a pricey piece of equipment.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Petersen View Post
    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/Products/bandsaws.html

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

    -kg

  12. 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:
    PRAZI.jpg
    Prazi USA PR7000 Beam Cutter for 7-1/4-Inch Worm Drive Saws

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Northwestern Connecticut
    Posts
    5,654
    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.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    Orange County, Calif.
    Posts
    123
    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
    I am not what I want to be.
    I am not what I hope to be.
    But by the grace of God, I am not what I was.

  15. #15
    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.

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