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Methods for Squaring-up Stock

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Squaring-up Edge of Stock

Squaring-up Edge of Stock

(c) 2007 Chris Baylor licensed to About.com, Inc.
Some woodworking plans call for lengthy pieces of stock with four square edges. Let's assume, for a moment, that your current woodworking project requires four 36-inch table legs made out of two-inch square stock. You glue up three pieces of 3/4-inch thick material, but three sides will need to be trimmed in order to obtain the 2x2 finished size.

What is the best method for trimming the stock? Should you use your table saw to trim the stock, or should you plane it down using your jointer?

Ideally, the answer is both. In a perfect world, the best method would be to place one good edge of the stock against the fence of your jointer and plane one side until it is perfectly flat. Holding the stock firmly against the fence will insure two flat, square edges.

Next, switch to your table saw and cut the other two edges to a finished size of about 2-1/16". Trim off the final 1/16" off these two edges on the jointer for a perfectly square, 2-inch square blank.

For many woodworkers, though, a jointer is a bit of a luxury. Is there a way of squaring up this stock without a jointer?

Absolutely, provided you make some minor adjustments to your glue-up. Before assembling the glue-up, take a close look at one of the pieces of the glue-up. Pick the straightest edge of the pieces of stock for the glue-up and position that piece of stock in the center of the glue-up with the chosen edge protruding slightly (about 1/8") from the other pieces of stock in the glue up.

Once the glue dries, place the glue-up on your table saw (with the layers parallel to the table and this protruding edge against your fence), and trim the opposite side. You should now have two flat edges that are square to one another. Next, set your fence to 2" and trim the other two edges, taking care to keep your stock firmly against the table and the fence. The result is a two-inch square piece of stock that will need a bit of sanding, but should be just fine for your project.

Keep in mind, as well, that using your table saw will likely result in a strip of wood that you may be able to use on another project, where using the jointer exclusively well produce a lot of sawdust.
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