How to Square the End of a Board

One rule of woodworking while working on any project is that your lumber should always be square. When you buy wooden boards from your local wood seller, it is mostly square. However, if you are getting your wooden boards directly from a lumber mill, it might need squaring. You can use a jointer for squaring the board from the front and the sides. Squaring the end of the board though is a bit different. In this article, we will explain in detail how to square the end of a board.

To square the end of a board there are two methods. First, one requires you to build a jig and use a planer to square the end of the board. The second method requires clamping the board to an already square piece of scrap wood and using that as a reference to square it with a planer. Both these methods work on the same principle though. You can use a hand planer or an electric planer for the job. However, a hand planer will give you more control over your actions.

Almost all projects with wood require it to be square when you start off. This helps you know where you are starting from. It gives you a reference for when you are cutting the wood down later on for any mistakes. Since the piece is already perfectly square and you make a mistake, it will show. You get the chance to adjust your technique better as well. So having your board square is one of the most crucial things you should do first thing when you buy wood.

Step-by-Step Guide on How to Square the End of Your Board

To square a board you need to have a planer, a hand planer will do the job. You also need a piece of scrap wood that is already perfectly squared. Lastly, you will need a pair of clamps that will hold the board in position.

Step 1 – Making Prep

First, take a measuring square and measure out how much you need to shave off the end of the board to make it square. You can use a normal 90-degree angle square or a squaring gauge to mark out any excess that needs to be shaved.

Step 2 – Clamping the Board

Take your board and position it on the perfectly squared piece of scrap wood. This will be the base of your makeshift jig. It needs to be placed in a way that only the marked area that needs to be shaved off is hanging off the end of the scrap wood. Now take your clamps and place them tightly on the board and the jig so that it does not move from its place.

Step 3 – Squaring the Board

Take your hand planer or electric planer and using the perfectly squared-off makeshift jig as a reference, start shaving off the end of the board. You have to do this till your board is as equally squared off as the reference piece. After a few passes, your board’s end will be perfectly square and ready to use in your projects.

This method is incredibly easy and does not require a lot of tools. But you can make a permanent jig as well that does not require you to clamp your pieces by adding a fence to the reference piece. The fence will help hold the board in place along with the clamps and give a better grip.

Squaring the End of the Board with Power Tools vs. Hand Tools

You can square the end of your board with either a power planer or a hand planer. You can even use a table saw with a fencing guide to square the end of your boards without trouble. Using a table saw will save you the trouble of making a jig or using an already square piece of lumber as a reference. It will also save you time since your table saw can square the end of your board in a few seconds, that too without any errors.

However, where power tools save time, hand tools give you more control. Using a hand planer will waste way less wood and you control how much you are going to shave off the board. So when you compare both power tools and hand tools for squaring the end of a board, both have their ups and downs. Choose the tools that suit you the best and you have complete confidence in their use.

Tips for Squaring the End of a Board

  • Don’t rush when you are trying to square the end of a board. If you make even the smallest mistake then you will have to reduce the stock, even more, to try and get it right. Not to mention you end up wasting more time than if you would have done it slow and properly.
  • When you are using power tools it is often a good idea to double-check the measurements before you start cutting the board to make it square. 
  • Make sure that when hand planing the end of the board make it square so that it does not move. Using multiple clamps will give you a much better grip than just one.
  • When hand planing rather than using force to take off a lot of stock at a time make more passes. This leaves little margin for error.
  • You can always mark the extra piece you need to shave or cut off to make the end of the board square using a pencil. This way you will know it is time to stop when you can’t see any more pencil marks covering the board.

FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best tool to square off the end of a board?

A planer is the best tool to square off the end of a board. You can use a hand planer or a power planer for the job.

Can you sand the board’s end to make it square?

Though it is possible, it is not the recommended way. A sander creates dust and takes too much time to remove material. In comparison to that, a few passes from the hand planer or a power planer will square the board. Besides, a planer is designed for the job of flattening the surface of wood, while sanding is there to smoothen it out and remove scratches and tool marks. 

Do you have to square every board you are working with before working on a project?

Yes, it is vital that you make your boards square before you start working on any woodworking project. It helps you find any mistakes you might have made and also helps avoid any issues with the measurements and design.

Final Thoughts

In woodworking, some rules are universal, one of them is that any piece of wood you are working with has to be square from every surface. You might see some people going to lengths to make sure that the lumber they are using is square and ready for the job. However, it is not an exaggeration that it is one of the most vital steps to do so. Hopefully, after reading this article you will be armed with the knowledge of how to square the end of a board.

Martin Swizz

Hi! This is Martin, I like to research, experiment, and learn new things related to wood carving and other kinds of woodworking.

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