In my last post, I milled some logs in the field into large slabs. I typically mill these slabs into smaller boards before I stack the wood to dry. I built a sled to hold odd-shaped lengths of wood straight and steady as I run them through my band saw.
The sled is constructed from 3/4" plywood. Sliding stops on either end hold the log in place while I slide it through the saw.
The end stops slide in T tracks. Toggle clamps hold the end stops in place.
I put friction tape on the bottom of the end stops to keep them from sliding. The clamps alone are not sufficient.
I mounted nailing plates upside down on the inside faces of my end stops to hold the log. Once the log is in position, I use a heavy rubber mallet to tap the stops into the end grain before clamping them down.
A 3/4" x 3/8" polycarbonate extrusion which fits the band saw's track is mounted on the bottom to guide the sled in a straight line. I used my router table to mitre a very shallow 3/4" groove on the bottom to hold the extrusion perfectly straight before I mounted it with wood screws. I hold the sled up on either side of the saw with roller stands. A 3/8" thick strip of plywood on the side provides a level base for the sled to roll on. The bottom is also waxed so that it slides easily when heavily loaded.
Here's what the log looks like after a first pass through the saw. At this point, I could stop using the sled, and continue ripping dimensioned boards by running the straight edge I just made against a fence. I find that the sled does a better job of holding things straight, though. It's a little more work to use the sled, because I have to mark and carefully position each end of the log for every pass, but the results are better.
I use a 3/4" wood slicer resaw blade. It alternates between 3 and 4 TPI (teeth per inch) along the blade. This alternating pattern reduces vibration. Resaw blades are wide to provide stability. They also have deep gullets between the teeth so that they can remove all of the material from the cut. Shallow teeth would quickly gum up and fail to cut well. It's important to have a sharp blade in the saw. You can tell when the blade is getting dull because it will cut a wavy line.
I ripped this piece of log into approx. 2" wide planks. I chose the direction of the cut so that the ring pattern is roughly perpendicular to my cut - i.e. these boards are quarter sawn. Quarter sawn boards cannot be as wide as a plain sawn board, but they are more dimensionally stable.
Now I just need to find a place to store all this stuff...