How to Square a Board

By braniac ; Updated September 15, 2017

Things Needed

  • Table Saw
  • Planer
  • Jointer
  • Miter Saw
  • Push Blocks
  • Feather Boards
  • Tri-Square or Measuring Square
I'm not an artist, but this shows what we are talking about

One of the toughest tasks a beginning woodworker faces is having to square a board. Making each board perfectly square is a fundamental skill which goes a long way to a perfectly finished project.

Mark the best face of the board with a long wavy line of chalk down it's length. Then run this board face across the jointer to flatten it. You will know it is flat when all the chalk is gone.

Run the board with the newly flattened face side down through the planer. What this does is remove material from the opposite face and creates a parallel surface. You are now ready to square the edges of the board to the faces.

An Industrial Saw. A bit more than needed for a home workshop :-)

Mark one face of your board. Place the marked face against the jointer fence and begin removing stock from one edge of the board. When that edge is square to both faces you are ready to move to the table saw.

Rotate board so the marked face is down and the newly squared edge is against the table saw fence. Now rip down the length of the board. Both edges should now be parallel and square to each face.

Optionally you can attach your board to a commercially available squaring jig and cut the first side on the table saw. You can also build your own squaring jig with the free plans in the resource section below.

Trim the first end with either the Table Saw or Miter Saw and verify that it is square with both edges and both faces. Then trim the other end to length.

Double check for square with Tri-square. Make minor corrections on the Jointer if needed.

And you're done! It reads as if it is difficult, but it really isn't. If you take your time, a couple of practice sessions with scrap wood will be all it takes to master the process. Be safe and have fun!

Tip

Use a square to verify all power tool adjustments are set at 0 or 90 degrees as needed. A Draftsman Square is ideal for this. Make sure all tools are sharp. A coating of wax on tables will prevent rust and allow the wood to move more smoothly.

Warning

Wear short sleeves. Use push blocks and feather boards. Wear eye and ear protection at all times. Use a respirator along with a dust removal system.