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AW Extra 1/31/13 - 5 Steps to Foursquare Boards

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5 Steps to Foursquare Boards

By Tom Caspar

It sounds obvious, but the key to accurate woodworking is to start with accurately machined boards. They must be straight, flat and square. Roughsawn lumber is anything but. Here’s a time-honored order of procedure to turn rough boards into foursquare boards. 



1. Joint One Face

Make one face flat and smooth using your jointer. It’s OK to leave some low spots here and there. If you get tear-out, try feeding from the opposite end. Mark the feed direction that gives the best results on the end of the board. This mark indicates grain direction and reminds you to “start here.” 

Click any image to view a larger version.




2. Plane the Opposite Side

Use your thickness planer to make the other rough face parallel to the jointed face. Grain direction is easy to figure out: The grain on the second face runs in the opposite direction as the grain on the first face. That means the mark you made in Step 1 should appear on the end nearest you, face down, as you feed each board into the planer. 



3. Joint One Edge

Make one edge flat, straight and square. Grain direction matters here, too. If you get tear-out going one direction, turn the board around, place the opposite face against the jointer’s fence and try again. This is the reason you thickness-plane before you edge-joint: If you only have one smooth face, you could only edge-joint in one direction.



4. Rip the Opposite Edge

Use your tablesaw to cut a second edge parallel to the first. Make the cut about 1/32 in. wider than the final dimension. Then return to the jointer and make a 1/32-in.-deep cut on the ripped edge. Now both edges are smooth and square to the board’s faces.



5. Crosscut the Ends

Use your tablesaw or miter saw to square one end of the board. Then use a stop block to cut it to length. 




This story originally appeared in American Woodworker May 2006, issue #121.

May 2006, issue #121

Purchase this back issue.

 


Comments

greg weston wrote re: 5 Steps to Foursquare Boards
on 11-06-2009 9:25 AM

I have a Sears 6 1/8" Jointer and can't seem to get straight faces and edges on stock that is over 3' long.

Any suggestions?

Tom S wrote re: 5 Steps to Foursquare Boards
on 02-01-2010 3:17 PM

Make sure of the following; Flat bed, flat fence, fence square to the bed, cutter bladel installed square. Make sure what you are using are flat and square.

Tom

Roger wrote re: 5 Steps to Foursquare Boards
on 02-21-2011 2:04 PM

I have the same jointer. check your fence. I'll bet it is off just a hair. I put a playing card underneath the 90 degree stop to square the fence up, and, yes, I keep a deck or 2 layin around the shop, they make great shims for all sorts of things.......just like this little situation.. try it, you'll like it