How to Square a Board with a Table Saw

September 13, 2021

Guide on using table saw to square a wood board.

If your project requires utmost precision, you need to learn how to square boards on your own. When you purchase stock lumber, you would usually find that it is not squared or is roughly squared. Of course, for some projects, this default squaring will be enough. But with precision woodworking projects, you need to ensure that your workpiece is squared. Hence, it will help to learn how to square roughly squared-off lumber.

Since not all lumber stock is sold with straight edges and with perfect right angles, you need to check their edges and angles and ensure that you square the tapered and twisted boards before you start cutting joints and edges. You can use the table saw to square this roughly squared stock. Of course, you can square boards using the table saw with the help of a miter gauge or rip fence. 

Proper Steps in Squaring a Board Using a Table Saw

If you’re a beginner, you may end up confused about the process of squaring rough lumber board using a table saw. So, it will be best to know the following straightforward steps on how to square rough boards:

Step 1: Prepare Your Table Saw

Just like in any other woodworking task, you need to prepare the equipment you will use. So, prepare your table saw at the onset. Check the table saw’s internal adjustments. But before you do that, please disconnect the table saw cord from the power source. 

Once you’re sure that the table saw cord is disconnected, you can adjust the straight board screw so that you can push the stock easily against the fence to create a square. You can use an impact driver when adjusting a flatten board. 

The impact driver, of course, is an excellent tool for creating a hole, loosening, and tightening up the nuts onto the straight board. Afterward, you can drill some holes wherein you will fit the screw. Then, adjust the lumber and straight board.

Step 2: Start Marking the Boards

Precise measurement is the key to making a square board. Use your pencil and ruler to get the exact measurement. Then, mark the accurate dimensions you would like to achieve. You will also find the framing square handy when making precise measurements with an accurate 90-degree angle. 

This measuring device will come in handy if you want to go on with a horizontal line over the wood in a vertical direction. Ensure that the markings are clear, for this line will be crucial in keeping cuts against or along the grain relative to another dimension.

Step 3: Set up the Miter Gauge or Fence

When squaring a stock, you need to make fence adjustments, which is crucial to the squaring process. You can set up the fence relative to the desired distance of the cut. This will enable you to push the stock along the blade accurately and get precise cuts afterward. 

If you use a miter gauge, you can set the miter gauge at 90 degrees. Then, clamp the board to the miter gauge. Make sure that you position the board so that it would pass over the blade and eventually remove the defects.

Step 4: Utilize a Push Stick When Cutting

You must consider your safety first when working with a power tool like the power table saw. It will help to use a push stick when pushing the stock through the saw blade. Keep your fingers from the saw blade using the push stick. Moreover, you can buy push sticks online or make your push stick using scrap wood.

Step 5: Set the Height of the Saw Blade

The setting up of the saw blade may be a bit complicated if you are a newbie. This is because you don’t make changes to the saw blade’s height more often. Yet, when cutting lumber, you need to change the saw blade’s height several times. The reason for this is the dimensions of wood lumber are not constant. So, you need to set the saw blade’s height with precision. 

Step 6: Start the Table Saw

Once you’ve set the saw blade’s height, you can plug the cord of the table saw. Yet, before you start the table saw, make a thorough checking again of all the elements. Check if they are fitted correctly. Check the fence guide and the other equipment likewise.

Step 7: Push the Lumber Usn

Once you’ve checked everything, you can then start pushing the board using a push stick against the fence in the direction of the saw blade. Then, remove the straight board once you’ve cut the lumber. Afterward, you can join the board with the lumber and make a square cut.

Step 8: Make a Rip Cut on the Other Edge

At this point, you can engage in a rip cut to produce the final board width. You can do this using the table saw’s rip fence. Ensure that you run, against the fence, the flattened edge. In doing so, you can join with the lumber the straight board. You can remove the straight board repeatedly until you get the perfect dimensions.

Other Factors to Consider When Squaring Boards

Aside from learning the simple steps on how to square rough stock, it will be best to know some factors to consider when squaring tapered or twisted boards:

No Reference Faces vs. Reference Faces

When squaring rough stock, you will need to deal with the question of whether the stock you would like to square has a reference face or none. If there are reference faces, the squaring process becomes easier than if there is no reference face. You can use the reference faces as your guide point. 

It will help to mark the reference edge and face using a pencil. Ensure that the board’s edges are pushed tightly against the tabletop and the fence. Otherwise, you will risk not making a perfectly square edge. 

Slide the board through the saw blade. Keep the reference face tightly against the fence. Moreover, keep your board tightly against the fence using your feather board. The feather board will let you apply equal pressure to the stock as you slide it through the table saw blade.

Board or Stock without Reference Faces

At the onset, you would need to make a straight edge or a reference face that you can use to start the squaring process. If the board doesn’t have any reference face, you will need to belabor the squaring process more. To accomplish that, you need to use straight timber. You can use scrap plywood of about 3/4″ thick and 1 to 2 inches wider than the board you would like to square. It should also be of similar length as the board you would like to square. 

At this point, you would like to make a reference face that you can use against the fence. Attach your plywood to the board without affecting the plywood’s ability to be used as a reference point. Ensure that your board is attached tightly or securely. 

You can use double-sided tape, or you can use well-placed screws. If you decide to use screws, ensure that you position them so that they do not come in contact with the saw blade. After attaching the board, push the stock through the saw blade and remove defects while squaring the edge. 

Flip the board and use the new reference face against the table saw to create the second reference face. You should do this with other tapered edges. Moreover, you can use wedges to level the board. Secure the wedges and the screws. Once you got the faces and edges squared up, you can remove the plywood and make the final pass through the saw blade.  

Frequently Asked Questions

Aside from knowing the steps and the factors to consider when squaring a board, it will also help if you get acquainted with the following frequently asked questions about squaring twisted or tapered boards using the table saw:

How Can You Square a 2×4?

Before you use a 2×4, it will be best to check if it is perfectly squared. If not, you need to square it if you want precision in your works using the 2×4. First, you need to cut the 2×4 according to the desired length. Once you’ve cut the 2×4, you can position the rip fence at least 3-1/4 from the table saw blade’s inside. 

Position the blade guard and rip one face of the 2×4. Afterward, you can set the rip fence at 3″ from the blade’s inside. Flip the stock and hold the ripped edge against the fence. Then, start ripping the other side. You will end with a squared 2×4, but you have lost at least 1/2″ of the stock. 

So, you need to adjust the dimensions of the other pieces according to your reference dimensions. Remember that in this case, you are desirous more of having a squared wood piece.  


It will be good to bear in mind that square boards are not born but made. Hence, you will need to square boards to ensure that you can start well with your woodworking tasks. Starting well in woodworking is necessary, and you should begin with squared boards. You can use your machine like the table saw to square your boards. 

If you know how to square, you can buy boards from the sawmill. In this way, you can save money because rough lumber and boards are cheaper. Moreover, you should follow the simple steps mentioned above to ensure that you will never be at a loss when you first begin squaring rough lumber.

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