How to make square

Submitted by montea2 on Sat, 04/09/2011 - 16:00

I'm a complete Newbie.  I started making a coffee table and got to the Check for Square section of the instructions. I couldn't find the "How to" it says to reference on checking square.

Also the plans call for wood glue doesn't say where to put this. Do I just start gluing every joint I make? Do I wait until end to glue it or after it's square?  Not sure where to put this. 

The plans don't tell me how many screws to use just length. Whats a good rule of thumb on how many screws to use when connecting glue.


Frank Maraschino (not verified)

Sun, 04/10/2011 - 11:57

Can you link to which coffee table plans you're using?

When building furniture, components are "four-squared," meaning each piece of stock  when it's cut should be equidistant in length and width, should have flat faces and should have edges and ends that are squared, i.e., perpendicular to the face side. So if you had a table top, for instance, and you turned it on its edge, the face and edges should be an "L" shape, not a "7" shape. 
Four-squaring is critical when building furniture because even small errors can multiply exponentially throughout a project, leaving you with something that can resemble a Chinese crossword puzzle by the time you're ready to assemble. 
Measuring tools use to check for flatness include a straightedge, typically metal. To check for squareness, a combination square, try square or framers square are used. Hand tools used to correct flatness and squareness include hand planes; power tools include a jointer, planer and table saw. 
If you don't have these tools and the skills to use them, it's best to buy your wood already milled. Your local lumberyard will typically do that for you, and charge you a little extra. The big box borgs sell wood that is pre-milled, and bake that into the higher price. 


Mon, 04/11/2011 - 12:12

Frank's information, while correct, isn't what you're looking for.

When you're assembling your table, you'll need to check that the parts you are assembling are square.  You'll need a square for this.  The simplest one to start with is a speed square.  It's just a plastic or metal triangle with a lip on one edge.  There's also a framer's square, which is larger, and might be too big for this project.

The process of squaring your assembly is difficult to describe in words, but it's pretty simple once you see the visual.  The search term "Checking for square" turned up a number of videos on Google video search, and is where I'd recommend you start.  There are a lot of good woodworking video resources on the web.  They've made learning a lot of things easier for me.


Tue, 12/13/2011 - 18:06

I am going to make the Storage Bed and want to make sure all of the drawers are square. I am sure my husband knows how to do this, but I want to know as well. Plus, I might work on this project alone, as much as possible. I will get his help but there is something satisfying about doing things yourself, as much as possible. Now I know something about squaring!


Tue, 05/03/2011 - 19:34

Frank makes a good point: after cutting, and before assembly, always double check to see that the opposite sides of things that are supposed to be the same length really are the same length by holding them against each other. If they don't match, fix it immediately. Otherwise you cannot ever get everything square.

I second Clay's recommendation of checking a corner for square by using a speed square (also called a rafter square). These are cheap and very handy for marking cuts, guiding cuts, and checking for square. For longer sides, a framer's square is also inexpensive, and will allow more accuracy.

You can double check an entire assembly for square by measuring each diagonal. In a rectangle (cabinet face, bed frame, bookcase, etc) where A, B, C, and D are the 4 corners going clockwise, measure A-C and B-D with a tape measure. If they are the same, you are square. If not, pushing in on corners on the longer of the two will get you closer to square.