How To Square A Board With A Table Saw

Want to square up a board? I guess the only tool you have at your disposal is a table saw. I mean, there are no other reasons why you are reading this article in the first place.

Now, don’t worry. It’s very easy to do so. It’s doesn’t matter if you don’t have a fully equipped woodshop. Take a table saw, a piece of wood that you want to square and work along as you read this guide.

In most cases, you can accomplish the task of squaring up a board with just about any table saw and some other small tools that are buried in your toolbox. Who knows, you might be able to take on a lot of different woodworking projects with those tools.

Before I show you the process, you might need to learn the art of squaring up a board first. Why do we need to do it?

Well, a lot of the times, the boards we buy from the shop or get don’t have useable edges. And for this reason, you will need to learn how to square the board with a table saw.

Squaring A Board Using A Table Saw

This guide is all about the process of squaring a wooden board. Sit back, read the steps, and start your squaring process.

Step 1 – Take A Flat Board

Now, I know what you are thinking. Why do you even need to square a board, if the board itself is already flat? Good question. But you are missing my point here. Even if you get a flat board, it can still be unsquared with crooked or rough edges.

It’s all about the edges and not how the board is shaped. Let’s move on. A table saw is used on flat boards to safely cut it from corner to corner or from side to side.

Now, imagine you don’t have a jointer and thickness planer. How will you flatten your boards then? On the other hand, you can buy just about any board and flatten it by yourself.

But you wouldn’t be here reading this post if you had all those tools. So, what do you do? You buy lumber that is already flat.

Step 2 – Buying A Suitable Board For Squaring

You can buy pre-planed boards from most lumberyards. Even then, you won’t always get a flat board. Pre-planed boards that are on sale doesn’t always come flat.

This is because the board can gain moisture content or even lose it at the lumber yard. As a result of that, the board can twist and wrap, which can mess up a perfectly flattened board.

This is very common in lumberyards. Regular pine lumber or SPF (a soft dimensional board) are very prone to wrapping. On the other hand, hardwoods can retain their flatness better because they are dried more.

Before you buy a board, inspect each one of them and pick the flattest one. Buy more than you need and resale them when you are done.

For example, you might get a piece of a walnut tree that might look flat at first, but there are chances that one side will be rough. By any chance you get a flat board, the edges might not be usable.

There might be edges that are unsquared, curvy, or live. However, you can still follow the squaring up process if you get a board like that.

Step 3 – Flattening & Squaring Up One Edge

Now that you have selected your board, it’s time to flatten one edge first. This is the first step when you are squaring up a board. This process is typically done with a jointer, but I will take a different approach here.

You can skip this step if the board you have selected is a hardwood board, and one of the edges is already square and jointed flat. Unless the board has gone crooked, you can skip this step entirely and go to step 4.

Moving on then. If the wood piece is not very straight or has a live edge or rough cut, you will need to prepare a special sled.

It’s called a jointer sled that you will need to use with your table saw. You can get the plans for this sled online, and most of them can be used for larger panels. These sleds are also ideal for cutting repeated tapers since the fence is adjustable. 

Use the sled to create a straight line across the edge. The sled will clamp down the board tightly so that you can make a square and straight cut on one edge as you run it along with your miter slot.

Once you have got yourself a straight edge, you can use that as a reference for your remaining cuts. It doesn’t matter in which order you follow the steps. Let’s move on.

Step 4 – Squaring The Other End

First, calibrate the miter gauge and use it to make an accurate 90-degree cut on one edge. Another way you can do it is by using a dedicated crosscutting sled. Not only does it have a lot of uses, but this sled is also perfect for squaring up wooden boards.

You don’t need to do any fine-tuning or make any adjustments. It’s very easy to use, and you can cut at exactly 90 degrees just by holding the flat edge against the fence.

Step 4 – Cutting The Final Length

Now, you can make a crosscut the other end, flatten the other edge, or square it up according to your desired length.

If you don’t have a specific project in mind for the board that you are squaring up, you can leave it as is or square up the other end. Repeat the process until the board is ready for future projects.

Conclusion

That’s all there is to it. You can make some final adjustments like rip-cutting the other edge using the rip fence of your table saw. The process I’ve shown you is quite simple. Just make sure to get the sleds required for the job.

Leave a Comment