Step 6: Crosscut the boards to final length on the table saw
The last step to square lumber for woodworking is to use a table saw to crosscut the board ends. There are several ways to cut a board to length, but the most common is to use a miter gauge. Most table saws come with a miter gauge. After ensuring that the gauge is square to the blade with a combination square and test cuts, I first cut off an end that may have an imperfection that I want to get rid of, like this knot.
Notice how I never put my hand near the table saw blade to grab the cutoff piece, until it’s fully stopped:
Next I mark the final length of my first board using a folding rule or tape measure, and make a tick mark:
I set a stop block against my fence and butt my board’s freshly cut edge against it:
I look down over the blade and move the fence back & forth to line the board up so I will cut right where I want. I lock the table saw fence in place, and then move the stock block way back to the back of the fence, and clamp it in place.
Then I slide my board’s freshly cut edge back against the clamped stop block. This block not only allows me to perfectly repeat the same cut on the other boards, but it also helps to prevent my board from binding against the fence, which could be dangerous.
I proceed to cut all the pieces that need to be that particular size, making sure I hold my board tightly against the miter gauge and the saw’s table. Again, notice how the edge of the board isn’t touching the fence during the cut:
In this case I’m building a rectangular dovetailed box, so I want two of the sides to be longer than the ones that I just cut, so I repeat the process to measure and cut these to my longer dimension:
And by the way, click here if you want to be notified when I release the box build video in my store! I’ll show this full project lesson on making a dovetailed box with a sliding panel lid.
And here are all four pieces of the box, nicely squared up and cut to the right lengths.