There are many things to consider before you begin a new woodworking project; what we will address in this article is how to square up your wood stock. All lumber, whether you have purchased it from your local lumber yard or a mill, needs to be trued (or squared up) before it can be used in a project - this is especially true if you are going to make a tabletop, or have another project where gluing wood stock together is required.
Rough cut lumber from a mill will need a little more work to square it up than lumber you have purchased from a lumber yard; however, the process is similar for both types of lumber. Follow the directions below and your wood stock will be perfect for any project.
- You will need to start by truing up one edge first. To do this, first sight down both sides of the board lengthwise to determine which side is the straightest.
- If you have more than one piece of wood in your project, put an X, or other mark, near the straightest edge of the board, then repeat the process until you have all your boards marked.
- Jointer method: If you are using a jointer run the board through, making successive passes until the board sits perfectly flat on the jointer table. This may take several passes.
- Now you have one edge squared up, and it’s time to run your wood through the table saw. Adjust the saw’s fence to the narrowest width of the board. In other words, if the board measures 6” at one end, and only 5 ¾” at the other end, adjust your saw’s fence to 5 ¾”. Then, placing the edge you have just straightened against the fence, run the board through. Depending on what our project is you may want to run the board through the jointer one more time to clean up the edge from the table saw.
- You now have a board with 2 squared edges, and of even width down its entire length. At this point, simply trim both ends using either a chop saw or radial arm saw.
- To check that your wood stock is square, lay the pieces side by side and see how they match. Should there be any gaps, merely run the boards through the jointer one more time.
Your wood stock is now ready for gluing without fear of gaps that require filling, and with minimal clamping pressure.