Cutting trenches in back of oak sleepers

Discussion in 'Carpenters' Talk' started by Jerseyoak, Mar 24, 2008.

  1. Jerseyoak

    Jerseyoak New Member

    Can anyone offer any suggestions on the following.

    I need to cut trenches in the back of oak sleeperes which are 230mm x 125mm. The trenches will be 20mm deep and 130mm wide. I need to make lots of these cuts and currently I am using a circular saw making a series of paths, digging the kerfs out with an SDS hammer drill with a wide chisel on the end then final finish from a route set up on a jog to leave a smooth finish. This does work, but as you can see it involves three separate processes and I need to be able to do the job quicker than this but with the same accuracy and finish.

    Any suggestions?
  2. handcraft

    handcraft New Member

    do you not own a mitre saw ?

  3. murrmac

    murrmac Member

    I would do this on my panel saw using a dado head.

    if you don't have a panel saw then this suggestion isn't much use, of course ...
  4. chip off the block

    chip off the block New Member

    or a radial arm saw with dado blade
  5. screwfox

    screwfox New Member

    What about a bench morticer
  6. murrmac

    murrmac Member

    bench mortiser ?

    no way, if you went that route you would be better off with a drill press and a forstner bit.

    COTB's radial arm saw suggestion is the best so far, and if Jersey Oak really has as much work as his posts indicate, than a massive (Wadkin) radial arm saw should be one of his essential machines.
  7. chippie244

    chippie244 Super Member

    What's wrong with a router?
  8. Jerseyoak

    Jerseyoak New Member

    Thanks for your posts.

    1. A router - too slow and will not pull out 20mm of oak in one cut

    2. Mitre saw - i figured I would need to make about 70 50 cuts per trench to do the job, unless I then used a router and/or chisel - again too slow

    3. Mortiser - absurd idea

    4. Radial Arm Saw - I have a Wadkin RAS, this is my preferred method, however, I only bought it last week and I thought that it was against regulations now to use a dado blade in one? Also, I would then need to buy another RAS to do my cross cutting (that said, I have considered this as an option so that one does cross cuts and the other does the trenching.

    Any more posts to take this further would be much appreciated. Question, I have some old dado blades, how many, or how wide can you take this. I have enough to make a 20mm cut in one pass, would this work?

    Jersey Oak
  9. MattChip

    MattChip New Member

    Could you not just add 20mm deep x 50mm wide oak strips to create a trench?
  10. dirtydeeds

    dirtydeeds New Member

    if you dont like any of the suggestions matt's idea is good

    about lifting full size sleepers

    the common sense rules are

    if the timber is big take the tools to the timber, if the timber is small take the timber to the tools

    saw kerfs and a chisel will be faster than talking about it
  11. dewaltdisney

    dewaltdisney New Member

    The only way I can see to speed this up a bit is to gang them up. If you lay five or so alongside each other you could at least cut down on the number of set ups. A chain saw would get the stock out but it is a bit unmanageable. The other tool I have seen is a wood cutter head fitted to an angle grinder. This too might be hard to control.

  12. dirtydeeds

    dirtydeeds New Member

    me learn'ed collegue dwd is correct

    gang cutting will speed the process
  13. jasonb

    jasonb New Member

    As You now have the RAS that would be the way to go, provided you got the correct guard to take a dado head when you bought it. Think the Wadkin should take about 18mm of stack and still leave sufficient thread for the nut to hold fully onto.

    If you plan your work well you should be able to do all your cross cutting in one go then the trenching therefore reducing the number of times you have to change setup.

    Or start saving up for a Stromab Blox Notching machine!!

  14. Jerseyoak

    Jerseyoak New Member

    THank you for the posts. I think that best suggestion is the RAS with Dado blades, as per Jason's suggestion. The other suggestions are not accurate enough and the padding out to creat trenches does not work for the purpose I have.

    Maybe the answer is to have to radial arm saws, one for cross cuts and the other for permanent dado blades.

    Cheers guys
  15. chip off the block

    chip off the block New Member


    what about this? its expensive but will do the job.

    Did you ever get that prazi?

    [Edited by: admin8]
  16. Jerseyoak

    Jerseyoak New Member

    Dear Chip

    I went of the Prazi, they were most unhelpful and it was proving too expensive with the US version saw to go with it. So, instead I got the Makita 51143R, which is a 355mm circular saw. It is a beast but cuts through a sleeper in one cut. My production has gone up by 25% with the one tool. Great piece of kit.

    The mafell looks good, wish I could afford that, it would be a great tool to have. I think I may have to start off with a 16" Wadkin RAS.
  17. lamello

    lamello New Member

    The way to do this in my opinion is to make a jig up and rout them. You should be able with a 12.7mm cutter in around 20 passes (ie 10 passes at 10mm depth and 10 passes at 20mm depth. You should be able with a good jig (ie not just a batten clamped to the sleeper but a jig that has the router base fixed to a long board resting on two support either side that register on a flat bench to ensure a flat bottomed trench) in perhaps 2 mins per trench once you get going. I think you would struggle to find a quicker method once you factor in the lifting and moving times in terms of doing them on a crosscut.
  18. chip off the block

    chip off the block New Member

    other than that crazy notch cutter i thing routing will be the neatest way. I would line 4 up and remove the majority of material with a circular and a chisel
  19. chip off the block

    chip off the block New Member

    if lifting is not a problem use ras with dado cutter
  20. lamello

    lamello New Member

    I myself certainly wouldnt put an oak sleeper anywhere near a panel saw, I would look at this job in terms of minimum lifting, minimum marking out, minumum tool changes and maximum speed of production, with a good router a good well thought out jig and a replacement tipped cutter this would be a very quick job, I appreciate what others are saying in terms of cutting out the bulk of the waste and setting up dados etc but the ideal scenario is that the crosscut is always set up for crosscutting so that tooling changes are restricted to blade changes only and that a dedicated router is always set up for the trenching. So instead of crosscutting then changing tooling and then setting up new stops and then trenching on the crosscut, or crosscutting then kerfcutting and then chopping the waste out and then routing to a neat finish, all you do is crosscut then plonk it on the bench and rout the trench. 2 operations, no stops to move, no marking out,2 lifts of the material , no tooling changes to go from uncut sleeper to trenched component.

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