My first order of business was actually to strip off the bark. I know that sounds like the most heinous crime, but I have read many articles on working with boards with bark inclusions, and many have argued that keeping the bark can lead to it flaking or falling off, or potentially harboring pests. The bark peeled off very easily which made me feel better about my decision to remove it, as it could very easily have fallen off.
My next task was to establish the width of the board, and rip it to width. Neither edge would have worked as a reference edge very well due to the bark, so I snapped a chalk line along the bark to have an idea of what that edge would look like if it was sawn straight at the mill. I then measured the width from that line, and snapped another line. That line would be the one I would saw.
|A wedged kerf|
Sometimes wide boards like these that are kiln dried have a lot of tension stored in them, and when you cut them it is released. This can lead to binding on the saw plate. To reduce the friction on my saw plate, I rubbed paraffin wax on it, but this particular board had a great amount of tension, and it was a very long cut, so that did not suffice. I drove a wedge into the saw kerf to open the kerf a little more, and make room for the width of the saw. This helped tremendously.
|The shelf, milled s5s|