STEP 9: FLATTEN THE FINAL BOARD FACE
Now that your reference face and both edges are flat and square to each other, use a marking gauge to scribe your final board thickness. Set the marking gauge against your reference face and scribe the thickness onto both edges and ends:
I like to follow the marks with a pencil to make them more visible for when I use the handplanes in the next step:
Now you have a line drawn around the parameter of the board.
Use a scrub plane (or jack plane), a jointer plane, and a smoothing plane to flatten & smooth the last face, according to the instructions in steps 2 through 5. But this time you will have the added advantage of guidelines to let you know when you are getting close. But I still use the straight edge and winding sticks to measure my progress:
STEP 10: CUT THE ENDS TO FINAL LENGTH
You should now have two perfect faces and two perfect edges. All that remains is two ends that are square to the faces and edges.
First set a larger try square against your reference edge and scribe your first end’s cut line on your reference face with a fine pencil. Just make sure your try square is actually square. Usually try squares have at least one edge that is true. Refer to my “marking & measuring” buying guide (here) to see how to test a try square for “squareness”.
I have found that my miter box and miter box saw are the best solution to creating perfect ends. Make sure that your board’s reference edge is pressed up against the miter box fence, adjust the miter box to cut a 90 degree cut (use your pencil line to ensure the miter box is set correctly), and saw away!
This may take awhile, depending on how wide and thick your board is. If I have several fatty boards to cut, then I wear a glove on my sawing hand to prevent a blister.
If your board is too wide to fit in a miter box, then use a cross cut panel saw to saw close to your line and use a very sharp low-angle block plane to get right down to the line:
Just make sure that you plane from both directions toward the middle to avoid planing over the edge. If you don’t heed my advice, the end grain will splinter off the edge of the board.
Use a large try square (or framing square) to look for any high or low spots, and continue to use the block plane to make the end become square to the edge and face:
Now use a folding rule or a tape measure to determine your final length. Follow the above process for measuring and cutting the second and final end. Now you should have 6 square & flat surfaces, and a very useful board for gluing-up and building beautiful traditional furniture.
This process may seem overwhelming, but it really speeds up after you’ve dimensioned a few boards. Sometimes it’s even faster than setting up & tuning the big power tools!
Shortcut to 10 steps:
- Step 1: Buy the Right Woodworking Hand Tools
- Step 2: Setup Your Workshop & Tool Storage
- Step 3: Learn how to Tune, Refurbish, & Sharpen Tools
- Step 4: Learn how to Use Woodworking Hand Tools
- Step 5: Learn how to Design Woodworking Projects
- Step 6: Learn how to Choose Stable, Strong, & Beautiful Wood
- Step 7: Learn how to Square & Flatten Rough Boards
- Step 8: Joinery: Learn how to Layout & Cut Joints
- Step 9: Learn how to Assemble, Fasten, & Glue-up
- Step 10: Learn how to Traditionally Finish the Wood