When we have one or two really great tools in our workshop, we often begin to take them for granted. There are a ton of different types of tools out there. If you simply can’t have them all, you can at least figure out how to use what you do have in the best ways possible.
The good news is that your table saw is very capable of helping you with a lot of different things. You can certainly use it for ripping lumber but you can also make other types of cuts too. Your table saw can help you square up wood as well if you know how to make it happen.
In this guide, we will walk you through how to square up a board using a table saw.
The first thing that you need to do is make sure everything is properly prepared for the task. We’re assuming you already have the board you want to square up and a table saw handy.
In addition to those, you will want the following items available too.
- Cordless drill (an impact driver would work too)
- Wood screws
- Scrap wood
- Safety gear
You don’t need a whole lot. Most of these items you probably already have nearby because you use them often and probably even use them together regularly. As far as safety gear, we recommend goggles and ear protection. You can also add gloves or any other type of safety equipment you need.
In an alternative method, you could use a miter gauge and a tape measure instead.
Squaring Wood with the Table Saw
What does square mean to you? Technically speaking, a square should be even and straight. It’s like a uniform box, right? All of the angles will be 90 degrees and all of their edges will be the same lengths. These will be straight and equal edges.
When you’re squaring up wood, the goal is to take any edges that are not square and make them so. If you just have to fix one or two edges, you probably won’t have any issues. However, if you have multiple edges or even all of the edges, it makes your job far more challenging.
Check out these details as we walk you through the process.
1. What is square already?
The first step is to figure out which edges you are going to need to square up and which edges are already squared for you. To do this, you simply need to inspect each edge. With any luck, at least one of those edges will be square for you.
Set the wood on some sort of flat surface. Your table on the saw might work but it’s totally up to you where you lay it. Just be sure it’s a flat surface. Now, what you really want is a straight edge to try to line up to.
Some people will use their rip fence but you could easily use a table edge, a ruler, or a carpenter’s square. Anything similar that has a straight edge you know to be square will work.
Attempt to line up the edges of the wood you want to be square against that edge. Figure out which, if any, edges are square.
If one is square, the goal will be to make the other edges square to this one.
If you have a square edge, skip Step 2! If you don’t have a square 2, step 2 is for you!
2. Get a square edge on the table saw
Alright, if you don’t have any square edges, we’re about to make one. Just remember your safety gear before you power up the saw.
The following is a series of steps to get a single square edge on your wood.
- Grab a piece of scrap wood that does have some sort of straight edge already. Most people just use plywood but whatever you have is great. Rest the scrap wood against the rip fence and then line up the board you are squaring on top of the scrap wood on the opposite side.
- For security, we recommend you screw the board you are squaring into the scrap material. This will help keep you secure and square. One or two screws will likely be enough.
- Adjust the rip fence if needed. You want to make sure the board you are squaring will actually be cutting to get you a straight edge.
- Now, push the wood through, making your straight cut.
- Power down the saw and unscrew the pieces. You should have a straight edge now.
3. Square the other side
Now, you can use that square edge you just created (or already had) and get the rest of the edges on your wood square as well. That straight edge is ultimately going to be the guide for the remainder of the process.
You just need to figure out what width you are going to make the wood. Then use the straight edge against the rip fence and adjust the pieces to the appropriate width. Once you’ve got everything set and adjusted, you can make that cut.
This should get you parallel straight edges. The next steps are more challenging as you have to mark and measure to get the squared cuts. However, they are not hard if you know what to do.
4. Finish the square
You’re going to reattach your wood to the scrap board that you used earlier. This piece of wood is just going to help you get a straight cut with the other sides of the square.
When you reattach the wood, make sure the edge that needs to be squared is facing towards the blade so you can make the cut. Adjust your rip fence so the appropriate width is set. Make the cut. Now, turn your wood to the final edge and make that cut as well.
Miter Gauge and Tape Measure
This method that we shared is pretty simple but you can also use a more formal approach with a miter gauge. If you’re unsure about getting straight and square edges, this can reassure you.
You will use the miter edge to get a straight line and then measure your length and 90-degree angles on every edge and follow the same process. It’s also very easy and you don’t have to use scrap wood if you mark and measure with the miter gauge.
It’s totally up to you which method you choose to use.
Squaring up wood using the table saw is a really simple process. Even if you have no straight edges, you can easily make adjustments and take steps to get your edges straight and square. We hope that this guide is helpful for you to do just that.
Never underestimate just how much your table saw really is capable of. If you know how to use it, you can easily do this and so much more on the table saw. In this particular guide, you needed very few things that weren’t already part of the table saw and they were all tools that we would guess you have on hand.