Usually, when you buy stock lumber, you’ll find that it has been roughly squared off. For many projects, this default squaring will suffice. But when precision is the key to success in your upcoming project, you’ll need to learn to square boards on your own.
If you’re currently seeking knowledge on how to do that, then you’ve come to the right place. This guide will teach you a quick and easy process for squaring wood stock using any style of a table saw. It will also highlight why the table saw is a perfectly suitable option for performing this job.
Should You Square a Board Using a Table Saw?
This is a common question in amateur woodworking circles.
For whatever reason, many people believe that there is another power saw option that is better suited to the task of squaring boards. As it turns out, the industry professionals count on a table saw for this very purpose. So, you should also be starting up your woodworking shop’s table saw if the need to square off stock arises.
As you’ll see in the following step-by-step walkthrough, using a table saw for squaring has its advantages. In particular, using this kind of power saw makes it far easier to make a perfectly straight cut, either with or against the grain. That’s the key to squaring, after all. Also, these saws are easy to adjust, so you can often get a squared cut in just a single pass.
Step-by-Step Guide to Squaring a Board with a Table Saw
Now that you know that you have the right tool for the job, let’s get into the detailed step-by-step description of the process.
Step 1: Mark Your Board
As with all kinds of wood cuts that need to be precise, your squaring process should start with a ruler and pencil (or similar marking utensil) in hand. With these, you’ll want to mark great visible guides on the surface of your wood stock that meet your desired dimensions.
These can be a major asset as you work because they can ensure that your final result is mathematically square.
In some situations, you’ll also find it necessary to utilize a framing square. In particular, you’ll need to use this measurement tool if you want to continue a horizontal line in a vertical direction on the lumber’s surface. This can be critical to keeping cuts both with and against the grain square in relation to one another.
Step 2: Attach a Strip or Adjust your Fences/Guides
Next, you’ll want to prepare your wood stock for the process of passing over your table saw’s blade. Typically, you could do this “freehand” for many other types of table saw cuts. However, because precision is the name of the game here, you’ll want to obtain some assistance while you work across the blade.
This can be done with either a clamped strip or the use of the unit’s fences/guides.
A clamped strip can be used on table saws that include a channel for managing the movement of workpieces across the unit’s table. These strips are usually made from scrap wood and clamped to your workpiece away from where you intend to square the board. If you choose this option, be sure that your strip is perfectly parallel to the edge you intend to cut so as to preserve a good square.
Meanwhile, the use of fences and guides is much more common for board squaring. With these, you can limit how far your board can move on the table as it passes over the blade. These can be set-up and adjusted easily, too. That makes them ideal for making lots of different squaring cuts in a row.
Step 3: Choose the Right Blade and Adjust It
Once your lumber is fully prepared, you can move on to selecting the right blade for performing your squaring cuts. In theory, your standard style table saw blade will suffice. However, if you want a professional-grade finish, you should seek out a fine-tooth woodcutting table saw blade. These blades also tend to cut through thick and dense stock more efficiently, thus making it easier to keep your square cut on track.
Once you’ve picked out the right blade, you’ll want to adjust it. Specifically, be sure to set the blade’s height so that it is a bit above your board’s height. This will ensure that your square cut is accurate throughout the board’s width.
Step 4: Make the Cut
Now that your tools and stock are prepared, you can now begin to make your cut on your table saw. This should be done using all of your standard table saw techniques, especially if you are making use of your table’s guides or fences. Also, be sure to adhere to proper safety techniques while your blade is activated.
Table Saw Tips & Tricks
Squaring a board is one of the essential jobs you can (and should) perform on a table saw. However, if you really want to get the most out of your table saw for these jobs and others, consider these following tips and tricks:
- Consider adding extra length to your working table when cutting long stock. This can be done by clamping several long pieces of scrap wood to the exiting end of your saw’s table. In practice, such addition can add support to your long boards, thus preventing their cuts from becoming misaligned due to bending.
- Consider making a set of push sticks. These simple wood tools allow you to push your wood stock past the blade without getting your fingers anywhere near the active blade edge.
- Always go slow when cutting with a table saw. Some professionals may make it look easy to quickly make a cut. But for DIYers, a slow cut is more likely to turn out properly square and in line with your initial measurements.
Now that you’ve read this guide, you won’t need to question what power tool to use when the need to square your boards arises.
Without a doubt, a table saw can accomplish this task in just a few simple steps.
Using the process outlined above, you should now be fully ready to fix uneven stock before it ever causes a problem for your next woodworking project.