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  1. #1
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    Default ripping 2x8s in half for hive bodies

    Hey folks, I'm a brand spanking new beekeeper but have a little experience in woodworking. I have some shop equipment so will try to make my hives. For now, I'm going to start making 8 frame langstroth hives all in medium size (6-5/8"), because at 55 years of age I can see the day coming soon when I can't lift heavy boxes. I may stay with 8 frame mediums for everything or I may start making deeper brood boxes. But that's a discussion for another day.

    Last week I got various wood at Home Depot for experimenting, I've read that hive bodies can be made out of many materials but 3/4" solid wood is most common. A 1x8-8' piece of rough cut pine is about $7 to $8. The same piece with four sanded sides is around $9 or $10. A sheet of 3/4" plywood is around $40 if it has an A quality side and a C quality side.

    However, a 2x8-10' is quite cheap. It is about $6.50 for fir and about $9 for white pine in 10' lengths. I like the 10' length because 120" will make cut six medium sides for 8 frame boxes less than 20" long with minimal waste. After cutting the 2x8 from it's current width of 7-1/4" down to 6-5/8", I will rip each piece on a table saw so that it is 3/4" wide instead of 1-1/2" wide, less the saw kerf which is a little less than 1/8". Final thickness will be slightly more than 11/16" after the ripping saw cut. (For non-wood hobbyists, a rip cut goes down the middle of the 1.5" length of the wood, splitting it into two 3/4" pieces).

    I enjoy woodworking and don't bill myself for my free labor, so this would give me fir sides of a hive box for 55 cents each! I have a wood shaper and a cabinet box assembler to cut and assemble the box joints. I think it would only take a few seconds to rip the 2x8s on a table saw and I would work for half an hour here and there until I became bored. It is a long winter.

    Sorry about the long winded story to get us to this point. But finally I ask my questions. I've looked on all the beekeeping forums but haven't seen anyone rip 2x8's down to 3/4" material. As long as the knots are tight it seems OK to me but I'd appreciate any advice. Nor have I found many people that use a shaper to cut box joints, then a cabinet box assembler. Am I missing something? And I read one forum that said pine was preferable to fir because it held nails/staples better. I've worked with both woods but don't remember that pine held nails better than fir. People can say just about anything. Does anyone else have advice on that?

    This is my first beekeeping post! I'm very excited because I've been waiting 45 years since my first hive to get some more. I got a hive when I was about 10 years old. And haven't learned a thing since.

  2. #2
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    May 2016
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    Default Re: ripping 2x8s in half for hive bodies

    Re-sawing the 2x lumber (1.5" thick actual)...which is what you are doing...is best done with a band saw for minimal kerf and it also tends to be safer than using a table saw. Construction lumber can tend to move while cutting it down the middle due to moisture imbalances and because today's lumber comes from younger, fast growing trees. The band saw will deal with this better than the table saw will and having the table saw blade raised to max requires great care to avoid accidents.

    It's pretty much impossible to get two boards that are a full 3/4" thick from a 1.5" thick piece of lumber, regardless of the saw you use, because of the saw kerf that you note. That's not a horrible thing as long as you adjust for that variation in thickness when you build your boxes and consider they will be a hair less sturdy than full 3/4" thick stock. If you check for local sawyers, you may be able to get both 4/4 and 8/4 rough cut pine or fir pretty inexpensively and it mills out nicely for hive component construction. I pay well under a buck a board foot for 4/4 rough pine. Knots are not an issue if they are stable and by using less expensive rough lumber to start, you can waste a little insuring no knots are in the areas that will be joined to make the boxes. Pine or fir is typical for bee boxes because it's not heavy and is relatively inexpensive. In some geographies, cedar or cypress come into play because they are plentiful and equally inexpensive.

    A box joint jig/sled is easy to make for use on the table saw. It could also be made to use on a router table or shaper, but that's uncommon for nominal 3/4" box joints due to the size of the cut. A dado blade on a table saw cuts these bigger joints better. Alternatively...and there's already a substantial discussion in this forum area going on the subject...rabbit joints can be used for hive boxes. (I use rabbit joints for the small number of boxes I build) Glue (I use Titebond III) and pneumatic staples or 15 gage coated finish nails will hold nicely regardless of the joinery you choose.
    Humble assistant to new beek Alison as well as family purveyor of luxury Bee condominiums and Paparazzi activities...

  3. #3
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    Dec 2016
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    fairfax county, virginia, USA
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    Default Re: ripping 2x8s in half for hive bodies

    Jim, thanks for that good advice. You're right that a band saw would leave me more wood due to it's thinner kerf. I hadn't considered that because I don't own a decent bandsaw, but now I'll look into the price of a larger one.

    I understand that 11/16" is getting marginal for a hive box. Losing that last sixteenth of an inch from the 3/4" thickness may push the limit too far just to save $2 per box. I've been thinking that the 8 frame mediums wouldn't have the same handling stress as the heavier boxes but I could be wrong. Because I haven't had a hive in 45 years this is just a theoretical thought on my part. It isn't born from practical considerations like the rest of you have with your experience. You've been working with boxes in the field and breaking them free from each other when stuck together. That last 1/16" difference might make the box too unstable for a long life. But at this point I'd guess that the lighter boxes might still be OK with 11/16" material.

    I will look around for local sawmills for rough cut pine. I don't mind rabbet joints but I already have the heavy duty shaper so I ordered 3/4" cutters today. I hate cutting with dados on a table saw because it is so slow in comparison to the shaper. The shaper seems like 10 seconds for 6" of box joints whereas the table saw seems like 5 minutes. Finally, I am used to the 1/8" kerf of the cheap 10" table saw blades. It would be worth it to shell out a few bucks for a more expensive blade with a thinner kerf. I'll look for one of those too. Thanks again.

  4. #4
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    May 2016
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    Default Re: ripping 2x8s in half for hive bodies

    A thin-kerf (3/32") table saw blade at full height is even scarier...less mass and potential flutter. That said, it's a little more efficient and requires slightly less power for the same cut. You don't really need a major bandsaw to re-saw construction lumber like 2x8 pine, although the heavier, the better absolutely applies. Even a typical 14" consumer grade bandsaw with a riser block can easily handle that job with a nice 3 tpi blade and an adjustable fence. (for blade drift)

    One other hint...build the boxes because you enjoy it. Quite frankly, the cost to buy ready-to-assemble boxes from the major bee suppliers is often less than material cost for DIY unless you are either making huge quantities and can source lumber at production level costs, or if you can get decent material from a local sawyer that is acceptable for the work. I'm a serious hobbyist woodworker with a professional level shop setup, but we keep a small supply of knocked down boxes from Mann Lake handy for quickly making up more when we need them. I spend my time building the other stuff because there is savings from that, especially when I can use "scrap" from other projects to build bottom boards, shims, telescoping tops, quilt boxes, etc.
    Humble assistant to new beek Alison as well as family purveyor of luxury Bee condominiums and Paparazzi activities...

  5. #5
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    Apr 2005
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    Salem, Oregon
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    Default Re: ripping 2x8s in half for hive bodies

    Here is the fast way to rip those boards...

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VsKkR2PQinU

    or maybe this way...

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ljZQHSPEfwg
    I have exactly ONE hive more than than you.
    That makes my opinion beyond dispute!

  6. #6
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    Jan 2015
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    203

    Default Re: ripping 2x8s in half for hive bodies

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim_in_PA View Post
    One other hint...build the boxes because you enjoy it. Quite frankly, the cost to buy ready-to-assemble boxes from the major bee suppliers is often less than material cost for DIY unless you are either making huge quantities and can source lumber at production level costs, or if you can get decent material from a local sawyer that is acceptable for the work..
    Very true. Next year you will be wondering why frames are so expensive. After building most of my boxes the first year I realize they are probably one of, if no the cheapest part of owning bees. I'm doing boxes again this winter because I can build them for $3 to $4 each with lumber from one of the many mills in my area. Accounting for time it's probably still a loss but I get stir crazy in winter.

  7. #7
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    Jul 2013
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    Default Re: ripping 2x8s in half for hive bodies

    Long tablesaw resaws of 8 inch stock of con common lumber is disaster waiting to happen. Even on the west coast 8 inch dimension is usually slabbed through the heart center, splitting that material would leave a board that wants to twist into a spiral. A resaw like that would burn the cheap motor out of any but a pro-grade table saw. Toasted motor == lots of spanking new boxes drop shipped to your door by Mann Lake.

    I build boxes out of 1x8 rough redwood fenceboards, but these are not shipped off the west coast. They are nominal 11/16", and work well. If you can get pallet quantities of 1x8 fence material - you might have the sweet spot on material. Not sure how much 1x8 fencing is sold on the east coast.

    The redwood boxes are not finger jointed but are lapped and held with drywall style screws.

    Odd lot trucking outfits get a lot of pallet crates built with 1x12. Find a source of those, and you are golden.

  8. #8
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    May 2016
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    Default Re: ripping 2x8s in half for hive bodies

    Quote Originally Posted by HarryVanderpool View Post
    Here is the fast way to rip those boards...

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ljZQHSPEfwg
    "Vawwy-scawwy!!"
    Humble assistant to new beek Alison as well as family purveyor of luxury Bee condominiums and Paparazzi activities...

  9. #9
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    Dec 2016
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    fairfax county, virginia, USA
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    Default Re: ripping 2x8s in half for hive bodies

    Just to clarify, I hate to make long rips on a table saw. I was thinking of cutting the 2x8s down to 19.75" lengths and 6-5/8" widths before ripping them. And probably only ripping 3" from each side. This is a lot safer than trying to negotiate long lumber through a table saw, and much easier on the saw and blade.

  10. #10
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    Dec 2016
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    Default Re: ripping 2x8s in half for hive bodies

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve in PA View Post
    Very true. Next year you will be wondering why frames are so expensive. After building most of my boxes the first year I realize they are probably one of, if no the cheapest part of owning bees. I'm doing boxes again this winter because I can build them for $3 to $4 each with lumber from one of the many mills in my area. Accounting for time it's probably still a loss but I get stir crazy in winter.
    Steve, I get a little winter crazy too and need the woodwork for stimulation. And this first time out I'm making the frames too. Later I may come to the same conclusion as others and buy ready made hives and frames. But I suspect that the lack of fast box jointing is what keeps most people from this approach. If I didn't have a 3 hp shaper I would be more reluctant.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: ripping 2x8s in half for hive bodies

    Quote Originally Posted by dave w in virginia View Post
    Just to clarify, I hate to make long rips on a table saw. I was thinking of cutting the 2x8s down to 19.75" lengths and 6-5/8" widths before ripping them.
    Well if you are cutting to 19.75", you are going to have a really big pile of firewood.

    19 7/8" or bust.

    I've outsmarted myself on 11/16 material (fenceboards), thinking that these add up to a 1/8" under, and must be moved in closer than nominal. No clearance on the endbars which push into the frame rest rabbet. The thinner rabbet splits out easy.

    You're better going for a slightly sloppy fit on the frame rest == no burr comb on the end bars of the comb.

    Over-dimension too much however, and the frame ends walk off the rabbet rest. Fix that by adding the l-metal that is used on commercial boxes.

    I attempt to make the frame rest rabbet "fat" on the stock side. I cut the rabbets with two passes of the table saw. One, on edge, blind. and the second on the face. This leaves as slightly narrower than design "shelf" on the frame rest.
    Last edited by JWChesnut; 12-27-2016 at 10:01 PM.

  12. #12
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    Jan 2014
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    Manassas, Virginia, USA
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    Default Re: ripping 2x8s in half for hive bodies

    The problem with Home Depot 1x lumber is that it is usually overpriced shelving grade. Most of the people who make their own hive components economically have discoved more cost effective sources of lumber. Some of them live near mills that generate slash, or waste lumber from the furniture business. I hear about salvaging pallets sometimes.

    I concur with bandsaws as the way to split 2X lumber. I've had several oak trees cut up for lumber at a local one-man sawmill, where he can feed tree trunks thru a heavy duty bandsaw with little waste. West Virginia has a lot of these little mills, and I'd expect a few in the Shenandoah Valley, too. To do this with 2X lumber you'd need something more than a little hobby bandsaw, and make a fence to hold the width of the lumber vertical.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: ripping 2x8s in half for hive bodies

    Quote Originally Posted by JWChesnut View Post
    Well if you are cutting to 19.75", you are going to have a really big pile of firewood.

    19 7/8" or bust.

    You're completely right. This just shows what a newbie I am, to not remember the right dimension.

    I've outsmarted myself on 11/16 material (fenceboards), thinking that these add up to a 1/8" under, and must be moved in closer than nominal. No clearance on the endbars which push into the frame rest rabbet. The thinner rabbet splits out easy.

    You're better going for a slightly sloppy fit on the frame rest == no burr comb on the end bars of the comb.

    Over-dimension too much however, and the frame ends walk off the rabbet rest. Fix that by adding the l-metal that is used on commercial boxes.

    I attempt to make the frame rest rabbet "fat" on the stock side. I cut the rabbets with two passes of the table saw. One, on edge, blind. and the second on the face. This leaves as slightly narrower than design "shelf" on the frame rest.
    I haven't done rabbeting work and am not familiar with the terms you are using. Are the terms still relevant to box joints? I have 3/4" cutters ordered, with 3/4" spacers. I won't know how exact they will fit until I put them into action. Hopefully the frame assembly machine can squeeze them in. This box frame assembler is also new (to me). I picked it up at auction from a cabinet maker and it has been sitting in my workshop for a couple of years collecting dust. But it's hydraulically operated and I assume it has enough strength to force tight joints together.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: ripping 2x8s in half for hive bodies

    Quote Originally Posted by Phoebee View Post
    The problem with Home Depot 1x lumber is that it is usually overpriced shelving grade. Most of the people who make their own hive components economically have discoved more cost effective sources of lumber. Some of them live near mills that generate slash, or waste lumber from the furniture business. I hear about salvaging pallets sometimes.

    I concur with bandsaws as the way to split 2X lumber. I've had several oak trees cut up for lumber at a local one-man sawmill, where he can feed tree trunks thru a heavy duty bandsaw with little waste. West Virginia has a lot of these little mills, and I'd expect a few in the Shenandoah Valley, too. To do this with 2X lumber you'd need something more than a little hobby bandsaw, and make a fence to hold the width of the lumber vertical.
    Phoebe, Manassas is just a couple miles from me in Fairfax Station. Can you PM me with the phone number of your local one-man sawmill? How long did you cure your lumber? Winter might be over before green lumber dries for me.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: ripping 2x8s in half for hive bodies

    I have resawed 2x in the past. Can't remember what for, but not bees.
    I kept tripping the thermo switch and resetting it until I burned the motor out. And even though I was using a resaw jig, the boards were still not perfectly even from one side to the next. I know the bees won't care about the boxes being perfect, but you might. Another thing I remember about resawing was the pitch. I can't tell you how many times I had to clean that blade.
    www.facebook.com/hives2honey Oxalic Vaporizers, supplement and more!!!!!! Check me out.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: ripping 2x8s in half for hive bodies

    I bought a stack of ruff sawn two by fours cheep and it can be done but it takes a lot of time. You can never make the saw line up perfect so it's not going to look good unless you have a planer to smooth the saw cuts. But I use the 1 1/2 lumber to make the end bar on my frames I plane them too the right thickness then cut out hundreds at a time and when you make the top bars a 8 foot board is just the right size.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: ripping 2x8s in half for hive bodies


  18. #18
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    Default Re: ripping 2x8s in half for hive bodies

    Quote Originally Posted by dave w in virginia View Post
    Phoebe, Manassas is just a couple miles from me in Fairfax Station. Can you PM me with the phone number of your local one-man sawmill? How long did you cure your lumber? Winter might be over before green lumber dries for me.
    Dave, we had four oaks of harvestable size when we cleared our West Virginia lot many years ago. Our contractor hauled them to his buddy in Burlington, WV. Several months later the sawmill guy delivered back our 3x6 rough cut beams. The intent was to use them to make staircase stringers. Alas, they're still sitting out by the shed under a tarp. Really well-seasoned by now, I guess. They were probably cut up 2-3 months after harvest.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: ripping 2x8s in half for hive bodies

    Quote Originally Posted by AHudd View Post
    Thank you Alex, I'll look it up this evening.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: ripping 2x8s in half for hive bodies

    https://www.amazon.com/Freud-LU86R01...OBO/ref=sr_1_7 is an excellent general purpose saw blade that works well cutting pine, fir, spruce, hemlock, and cypress. It does just as well with hardwood but hardwood does not normally build up pitch on the blade.
    NW Alabama, 47 years, 22 colonies and growing, sideliner, treatment free since 2005, 14 frame square Dadant broodnest

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