How do you stay SQUARE?

Submitted by djdrysdale on Sun, 08/12/2012 - 13:43

I'm in the middle of my first real build, besides a couple of birdhouses. It's a version of the Flip Console Table (, modified a bit to fit the dimensions of where I want to put it.

So far so good, I guess, but I'm having a heck of a time staying square. I'm building it with regular old pine from the local lumberyard, and the trouble is that I can't keep square because, well, the wood's not square! There are cups and warps—nothing major, but enough to put it out of square in a few places. I selected the straightest wood that I could, but I'm still running into problems. My reading tells me that a planer and a jointer can help a lot, but I don't have those things in my workshop. All I have is a table saw, a drill, and a kreg jig.

I've been using the table saw as a jointer which helps a bit but can't eliminate cupping or warping.

Looking at the brag board, I sometimes get the impression that I'm the only person with these frustrations! How do you all do it without a fully kitted out workshop?



Thu, 08/16/2012 - 04:25

It used to be traditional to send the new guy in the shop for a Board Straightener, which had been loaned out to another shop and not returned.

There is a simple tool you can use though which will straighten your boards. A jack plane takes out cups and bows. You'll need to do a little reseaerch to learn the right way to sharpen the blade, and what's needed to flatten and straighten a board.

There have been good articles in most of the woodworking magazines, including at least one in the last year in Fine Woodworking. Any basic texts on hand tool woodworking will also cover it (you'll probably have to order those books).

You can buy good jack or fore planes (slightly longer, but designed specifically for flattening) second hand. I've had good luck with ebay. For about $150 you can buy a new one from Woodcraft, and if you want a really good one you can buy the Veritas Fore Plane from Lee Valley.


Mon, 09/03/2012 - 04:26

Don't fret everybody has this problem. First is to really check the wood when you buy it at Big Blue or Big Orange. I usually lay it on the floor on all four sides and any distortion will show up immediately. So you spend some time but worth it in the end. Take a knife with you to the store to open new bundles if you cannot find what you need in the loose boards. Now for a a lot of dollars more both stores sell S4S pine, oak, and poplar but I would only invest in such wood if you are really concerned.

Second use your saw to cut the ends square even if you think they are square. That action also gets rid of the advertising on the ends of the boards.

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