Announcement Module
No announcement yet.

Newbie Panel Squaring question....

Page Title Module
Move Remove Collapse
Conversation Detail Module
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Newbie Panel Squaring question....

    Hello all..
    Now that I've got all these Orange tools (TS, TP, Jointer, others), I'm a bit stumped. So far I've only really worked with relatively narrow boards on my projects, but I just started the Norm Abrams workshop hutch ( that will hopefully get me alot more organized.

    Anyhow, I've roughed out the case panels and drawer box pieces with with a homemade (relatively) straight edge. I've heard that you cannot count on the factory edge/corner to be straight and flat, so I'm not sure how to square up these panels (3/4" cab grade ply, 32 3/4" x 28 1/4" final dimension). Based on corner to corner measurements, they're not that far off and I can probably make them work as is since it's for the garage, but I'll need to know how to do this when I get to the maple side tables my wife wants for the bedroom.

    Sorry for the long post, and thanks for any advice.

  • #2
    Re: Newbie Panel Squaring question....

    M L

    Are you asking how to check for square corners or are you wanting to know how to fix them when they aren't square?


    • #3
      Re: Newbie Panel Squaring question....

      Sorry W...

      I know they're not square, so I'm asking how to fix it.


      • #4
        Re: Newbie Panel Squaring question....

        For smaller pieces you might want to try a sled. There are a number of plans out there to make one. I buy oversized plywood from a local distributor and most of the time the factory edges are square. But when they aren't, since I work by myself, I set the plywood up on horses and use a framing square, an aluminum straight edge and a circular saw. After I am sure the edges are straight I cut the pieces about 1/4" oversize and square them again on a sled when I cut them to final size.


        • #5
          Re: Newbie Panel Squaring question....

          In my shop those dimensions still get the straight edge and skill saw treatment. Not sure if a cross cut sled would handle it either(I use a RAS - no table saw).
          I have a square carpenters square that I check again just before making these layouts and cuts. Lay the square on a straight edge of scrap plywood and use a marking knife to scribe the plywood along the 90° length, flip the square and it should line up exactly with the scribed line, if not use a pin punch on the inside of the 90 to widen the angle or on the outside to narrow the angle.
          Run the board on the saw to get your 32 3/4" edges parallel, use the square and mark out the one end and cut using a straight edge to guide the skill saw (or router would work too) check cut with square, layout with same tape the length of 28 1/4" and cut again. Done with patience this works well every time.

          Hey, since you have a table saw I think you can use that first cut 90 against the fence and cut to length
          Last edited by wbrooks; 04-13-2007, 09:47 PM. Reason: new thought


          • #6
            Re: Newbie Panel Squaring question....

            M L

            Nothing to be sorry for. You need to see all the messes I have posted. When I go back and read them, I'm glad this forum allows us to delete and/or edit.

            Check all 4 corners with a good carpenter's square. If one of them is pretty good and one edge is good, you can use the rip fence for the other edge and then square up the ends using the miter guide. You need to be sure the miter guide is dead on at 90 degrees. Actually the cast iron table of a table saw should be square and you can check the plywood with it. If your TS has a plastic or pot metal table (the main table, forget the wings) then please use a good square. You sooner or later need a good straight edge and I recommend a steel one over aluminum but get what you can find and afford. Get a 4 footer so you can draw a line across the full 4 feet sheets as needed.

            For your table saw I recommend you get a good Combination Square so you can check both 45 and 90 degree settings and cuts. Please see picture.

            Hint: Using a marker and some masking tape put your name on the Carpenter's square and then take it along when you go to buy wood. Be sure one edge is good and that one corner is good too. Mark the good corner so you'll know it and not cut it. Most factory cutting is pretty good. It's when a lumber yard has an out of square panel saw and a "ding dong" using it that you end up with poor 1/2 and 1/4 sheets and/or custom cutting work.

            Never saw off a good edge or corner. Always cut off the worst.
            Attached Files
            Last edited by Woussko; 04-14-2007, 02:41 AM.


            • #7
              Re: Newbie Panel Squaring question....

              Thanks for the input folks.

              I have a carpenter's square (12"), tri-square (6", but will get a 12"), drywall t-square, and 4' aluminum bubble level and various tapes and steel rules. I like the idea about checking for good straight edge on the table saw cast iron table, finding a good square corner, and then going from there using the rip fence and miter gauge on the table saw. I'm also going to build a sturdier, more reliable guide for my circular saw.

              I considered the sled I made last year, but realized the panels were too big unless I plunged it part of the way (not a good idea). Also, either the fence on the sled or the runners are out of line with the blade. This really bummed me out cuz I spent a lot of time on it since I figured it would be heavily used (it's based on the David Marks design). I have an idea how to fix it, or at least make it useable, but that's a post for later. If you're wondering, the runners and fence are both screwed and glued with Gorilla glue .

              You live and you learn, right??


              • #8
                Re: Newbie Panel Squaring question....

                Update -

                On each of the 4 panels I was able to find at least 1 good corner and a couple of flat, straight sides. I then used the rip fence for all the cuts and they turned out great - 4 square corners on each!!!

                Also, my sled is not out of whack, there was a small amount of dried glue on the fence that once I got rid of, it came into square.

                Thanks again!!