This is such a great bit of workshop kit - I can't remember the last time I was so chuffed with a few bits of plywood!
Last summer I bought a Bandsaw - I needed one to cut the gentle curves in the braces for the Barn, as making all 28 by hand would have taken me years. The bandsaw has already paid for itself - you can buy curved braces off the shelf, but at £50 each it would have got expensive very quickly; far more expensive than buying a machine and making them myself. As ever, I decided to buy a slightly bigger and better model than was strictly necessary - my mantra of 'buy cheap, buy twice' won out, and actually made the bandsaw purchase even more versatile and better value, since I could do more with a larger model.
Something I'd always wanted to try was cutting my own planks from logs. Wood isn't cheap - if I could scavenge some decent lengths of oak and ash, cut them into boards and plane them to shape the bandsaw would save even me a good chunk over buying wood from a merchant.
To plank a log, you need to be able to cut two flat, straight edges at 90 degrees to each other. This will allow the log to sit flat on the table of the saw and against the guide fence at the same time, ensuring consistent boards. You can then resaw the log to any thickness you need.
To make these flat faces, I had to make a jig. There are loads of plans on Pinterest - most were quite comprehensive, with sliding clamp sections and T Slot profiles to fit the bandsaw. Beautiful bits of work, but perhaps a bit more complicated than strictly necessary. I decided to deliberately go as simple and low-tech as possible, using up some bits of scrap plywood from the shed, a bit of glue, some decking screws and a handful of pocket hole screws.
Here is the (free) jig;
This is set up for a very short log - I nicked a bit of cherry from the log pile just to try it out. The clamp on the right is fixed; the one on the left can be moved to fit the length of the log. The clamps can be set about four feet from each other - but there really is no limit to how long they could be. The log is held in place by the decking screws on either clamp.
Here she is in action;
The log is held by two decking screws per end - they only need to be driven in enough to stop the log moving. Once you've cut one square face, the log is rotated 90 degrees (newly cut face down) to cut the second face.
Now you've got two square edges, the guide fence is set to whichever thickness you fancy, and the log can be planked...
This was just a quick-and-dirty trial, but I'm going to head into our 'permission' tomorrow to recover some fallen ash logs to plank and turn into fencing staves.
Like I said, a very satisfying use of some old bits of plywood!