How to Cut Wood Slices from Logs for Your Next DIY Project

wood slice cut using a band saw

Cutting wood slices is an ideal woodworking technique that can be used for a variety of projects. These wood slices make wonderful coaster and ornament pieces as well as chargers and decorative surfaces. You can really let your mind run wild with the possibilities. Learning how to cut wood slices is an easy process if you take your time and do precision sawing. Follow these steps to get started.

​How to Cut Wood Slices

​Below are the comprehensive steps we've compiled to ​cutting your own wood slices at home, whether you are using store bought and scrap wood or big wood logs.

​1. Gather the ​Supplies and Tools You'll Need

First, you need to gather all the supplies you will need to make your wood slices. Keep in mind, following these steps on how to make wood slices can ensure you have wood slices that are even and properly prepared for use.

Be sure to assemble the following supplies to get started with this simple project. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • ​Tape measure
  • ​Scrap block of wood
  • ​Clamps
  • ​Miter saw or band saw
  • ​Wood to cut for slices
  • plus
    Oven for curing wood
  • plus
    Baking sheet(s)

​2. Get the Correct Wood

Before you can begin the process of cutting wood slices, you need to find ​some suitable wood to use. For the purposes of this project, we're going to assume that you want to cut circular slices. However, you can apply the same steps for cutting square and rectangular shapes. 

​You can use store bought 2x4's, for example. This would yield slightly rectangular slices.

You can also use scrap wood, which will probably give you a whole assortment of different shapes and sizes.

In the end, we recommend choosing logs. These can be tree branches and tree stumps, in a perfect world. This type of wood is often easy to find - check Craigslist and someone in your area usually just got down a tree and is trying to get rid of the wood.

How to cut logs into slices isn't complicated, and is basically the process as cutting wood slices.

logs from a tree stacked on top of each other for woodworking projects

​3. Get the Right Saw

To cut your ​wood slices, ​we strongly recommend you have either a miter saw or band saw. These are the best saw options to use when cutting log slices, as they can make more precise cuts with the uneven nature of a log.  They can also cut thicker pieces of wood than other types of saws.

Yes, it is possible to use a circular saw, chainsaw, or even a hand saw. The problem with both is that they make very rough cuts. For the most part, when you are cutting logs into slices, you're looking for more exact work. Rough cut saws just aren't the best tool.

The same can be said for the cutting the wood with a jigsaw. Even though the jigsaw is known as a precision saw, the fact that it is handheld means that you will undoubtedly come out with uneven cuts. Again - this just isn't what we are looking for when cutting log slices. 

​Using a Miter Saw

If you decide to use a miter saw, you can simply dial in the desired width of your log slice. A miter saw will provide a more accurate cut than a band saw because of this. But, you will need to hold the log steady as you work because it could roll.

Depending on the size of your logs, holding it steady could be a challenge. Another challenge with larger logs is that the miter saw blade simply isn't thick enough to cut the log.

The miter saw's capability is limited to ​roughly half the diameter of the blade. So, for example, if you have a 10" miter saw blade, then you could probably cut wood slices that are around 4"-4.5" thick. 

To summarize, a miter saw will work well if you have smaller logs to cut slices out of.

Using a Band Saw

We think this is the best option. In essence, bandsaws were made for this type of project, and specifically for this type of cut. You might not own a band saw, which is why you'd probably turn to the miter saw. But if you do have access to one, use it for this type of cut. 

​One of these saw's greatest strength is cutting really thick wood. Learn more about which is best in our band saw reviews

sliced wood logs in a row

4. Remember Safety First

Now you are ready to start cutting. Before you do, you need to take a few safety steps. ​

You need to take a few safety precautions before you begin. It is always a good idea to wear safety glasses when cutting log slices. They are not uniform wood pieces that will lay flat on your saw table top.

You will also want to wear a good mask for dust​ to keep sawdust particles out of your nose and mouth. This can be irritating as you work. By simply wearing a dust mask, you can cut down on the wood particles you breathe in.

​5. Cut Your Wood Slices

You can now begin the cutting of your tree limb into wood slices. ​Use your miter saw or band saw to make precise slices in the log. Be sure to hold the log steady as you work. Never take your hands off the piece of wood.

Decide How Thick Your Slices Will Be

You can cut slices of varying degrees of thickness, but you need to plan ahead. Coasters, for example, are typically 1/2" thick. Other more ornate designs and decor, like Christmas ornaments, might be a lot thinner.

Creating a Guide

If you have chosen a band saw for the job, you will need to create a guide that will determine the width of your log slice. Start by using the tape measure to determine the width of your log slice from the blade.

Attach your wood block to this measurement to stop your log from moving past this dimension.

Clamp the wood block tightly in place. This will serve as your guide throughout the entire cutting process of your log slice.

Use your tape measure to your desired width from the blade. Set your scrap piece of wood at the edge and clamp it in place to the saw table. This will be your guide to hold the tree as you cut.

Making Your Cuts

​If you haven't spent the time, make sure you learn how to use your band saw before you start. Make some practice cuts to get the feel of how your specific wood responds to being cut.

Cut your tree limb into as many wood slices as you can manage. The more, the better. You can use these wood slices for a variety of projects.

It is very important that you have a firm grip on your tree limb at all times. This will move around as you saw and you need to maintain control of the wood to ensure an even cut.

Also, be sure to avoid areas of the tree limb that have knots. You don’t want to cut through a knot. This will create issues as you cut, and you’ll never be able to get a clean or even cut. Work around the knots and slice your tree limb in the areas that have the least resistance.

​Related: ​How to Cut Circles in Wood​​​

wood slice cut using a band saw

​6. Bake Your Log Slices

Once you have completed cutting your log slices, ​we recommend you bake them in the oven.  ​Logs have a high moisture content and must be dried. If you don't dry ​the wood slices, they can warp and bend over time. 

Granted, if you are working with really old, dried out wood, then you can skip this step. Most of the time, though, you're starting with wood that still has some moisture in it.

Place them on a baking sheet and allow them to cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes at 200 degrees. This will dry the wood out completely and prepare the surface for any additional finish treatments you have in mind. It will also kill any organisms living in the wood, so they don’t get into your home.

This temperature isn't high enough to "cook" or "burn" your log slices, just hot enough to dry them out.

Let your log slices cool until they are no longer hot to the touch before you get ready to use them in your woodworking project.

​7. Decorate the Wood Slices as Needed

Now that your wood slices are complete, you can use them in their natural state or decorate them with paint or other decorative products. Let your imagination go wild! There are endless possibilities to using these wood slices.

You might want to sand down the slices to get them smoother. While they will be relatively smooth from the cutting, sanding them will make them quite a bit softer and smooth.

​You can apply a finish to them to seal them or let them age naturally. You can also paint or stain them as you like.

If a wood slice ends up having a chip or crack, you can use a stainable wood filler to repair, and then proceed with staining or painting.

​Conclusion

Creating wood slices is easy when you keep these steps in mind. Knowing how to cut wood slices can come in handy in a number of woodworking and craft projects. You’ll be able to come up with several creative and fun ways to use these wood slices. Plus, it is so easy to make more.