Kerf Cutting. How to Bend Wood with your Mind. I mean saw.

During my unscheduled hiatus I wasn’t a lump.  I cooked things, built things and ripped apart things.

I find manual labour soothing.  Measuring stuff, concentrating, contemplating the design of something.  Hitting things really, really hard with a hammer. All very soothing.

One of the things I focused my attention on was weaving a sort of round basket out of bamboo to cover up my garbage can and huge green bin.  This house has no hiding spots.  Nowhere to put things like garbage cans, snow blowers or bodies so that they’re out of view.

That’s why I had to build this cover for my recycling bins.

And that’s why I had to attempt this woven bamboo basket thing.  These were my materials.

Kerf Cut 10


It totally didn’t work.  Not even a little bit.  Apparently even though I was ready to do some manual labour my brain wasn’t.  I mean this basket thing I wove was a complete disaster.  If I were to do it again I’m sure I could get it to work but I can’t be bothered.  I’ll try something else eventually.  Maybe stack up all the neighbourhood cats on top of each other around my garbage cans.  Practical AND soft should you happen to fall into them.

However my time with the bamboo basket weaving wasn’t a complete write off.  The one and only thing about it that worked was my first attempt bending a piece of wood.   To make my garbage shield I had to bend the piece of wood you see at the bottom of my materials picture.

I was able to bend that piece of wood to 90 degrees by using a technique called kerf cutting.  And here’s how you do it …




Kerf (def)

Kerf refers to the width of cut a sawblade makes when it’s cut through wood.  When you’re cutting a board you have to allow for the width of the sawblade  and its teeth when you’re cutting.

Kerf cutting is making many kerf cuts (cuts the width of your sawblade) along a piece of wood.
Kerf Cut 1

Normally you would use a table saw to do this. It would be much more precise and much easier than doing it with a handsaw.  Even though I have access to a table saw, I figured many of you would not, so I wanted to see if kerf cutting was possible with a regular saw.
Kerf Cut 2

It is.
Kerf Cut 3

The most important thing about kerf cutting is making sure you cut through enough of the wood.  You need to get so close to the edge of the wood that it’s scary.  That you’re sure it’s too close and you’re going to cut your wood in half.
Kerf Cut 4

Once you have enough cuts for the amount you want the wood to bend, you cross your fingers, make an “I’m scared” face and start bending.  If the wood seems to be resisting, you haven’t cut through far enough.
Kerf Cut 7


At this point you should be able to bend the wood the same way you can bend a bendable straw.
Kerf Cut 9


It looks good, it worked, I’m pleased.
Kerf Cut 5

Now if it were only large enough to cover a garbage can I’d be set.


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