Newbie question on edge joining

Page 1 of 2  
I'm building a tv/stereo cabinet (my first woodworking project) and had the lumber cut at Home Depot. As I expected, their cuts were not very square or accurate and now I need to fine tune the pieces to get them perfectly square and even. The main pieces I'm concerned about are the four vertical pieces that will be attached to the top and bottom using butt joints with biscuits and glue. I don't want to reduce the overall height of the boards, if I can avoid it. I just want to just shave off as little as possible to square them and even them up.
The height of the boards varies by up to 1/4" and the HD cuts weren't square. For example, I might have to take off 1/4 off one side, tapering down to nothing on the other side. the edges to be trued up were crosscut (against the grain).
My tools include a circular saw, aluminum saw guide, clamps, a belt sander and a small 7" hand plane.
I was going to try and clamp the saw guide in place and try the circular saw, but I'm wondering if this is a good idea. I'm thinking that it might not cut straight when it gets to the part of each board where the amount of wood to be removed is very narrow, and that the blade would "catch" and bend. The belt sander might not be good either, since it probably wouldn't make a flat and square edge suitable for gluing. Maybe I should buy a larger hand plane?
I know that a jointer would be ideal, but I'm on a budget and trying to get this done with what I have, if possible. If I need to, I'll take the pieces to a professional woodworker who has a jointer.
Anyway, I'd appreciate any suggestions.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
"cut at Home Depot. As I expected, their cuts were not very square or accurate "
Of course that's what they expected as they told you so before cutting and (in my area) even have signs up to announce that they do no "do" precision cutting.
Given this, prudence would have dictated ordering the boards longer than needed so as to allow for the 1/4" adjustments you now demand.
Your only hope is the Miller-Matic 3000 Pine Board Stretcher - but I doubt you can afford the down payment.
You could square the ends and add a slice of contrasting wood to restore the essential dimension (and add a bit of "interest") though you might want to use dowels rather than biscuits (to account for the sandwiched "extender" suggested above.)
Absent a plan or even a picture of what you are trying to build, the foregoing is a happy guess if it suits.
But most anything would be cheaper than a Pinewood Stretcher.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
If there's no easy solution, I'll just buy a couple of pieces of 2' x 4' birch plywood ($25 for both) and re-cut the vertical pieces myself. I'll use the scrap for something else.
resrfglc wrote:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Here's a possible "do it yourself" suggestion; Do you live near a high school that has a woodshop? Some schools host adult evening education courses in shop and they may have the tools you need. Perhaps some type of proficiency trial is required before they cut you loose to DIY.
Marc snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Now that was helpful. Why don't you just tell him he's stupid and be done with it?
DonkeyHody "We are all ignorant, just about different things." - Will Rogers
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
"just tell him he's stupid"
Nah, that was NOT the point. The point was that he was blaming Home Depot for the problem. HD has its failings (note the flat stock price over recent years) but they do not offer any precise cutting of materials and should not be blamed for this particular problem.
I went on to offer a reasonable "fix**" albeit he did not give us enough information on his design to really come up with a "fix short (no pun intended) of cutting new pieces to the requisite size.
My grandfather, a finish carpenter in Ireland was oft quoted saying "Its a poor workman that blames his tools." I suspect we might re-phrase to "its a poor workman that blames the merchant."
The OP's question was [in essence] "I cut the boards too short. Is there anything I can do short of cutting new wood?"
Blaming Home Depot adds noting to the story nor impacts the answer sought, no?
** You could square the ends and add a slice of contrasting wood to restore the essential dimension (and add a bit of "interest") though you might want to use dowels rather than biscuits (to account for the sandwiched "extender" suggested above.)

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote: > I'm building a tv/stereo cabinet (my first woodworking project) and had > the lumber cut at Home Depot. As I expected, their cuts were not very > square or accurate and now I need to fine tune the pieces to get them > perfectly square and even. <snip>
Time to start over.
Lew
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

One of the secrets of woodworking is getting clever AFTER you've made a mistake. Unless there is some compelling reason that your cabinet can't get any smaller (like your components wouldn't fit in it), just reduce the size of everything as needed to make it all square and equal length. The raw dimensions usually aren't that critical as long as they are consistent in length and have straight square edges.
Given the tools on hand, I'd try using the circular saw and guide. Measure your saw carefully from the edge of the sole plate to the blade teeth (the wide side of the sole plate, not the narrow side). Then clamp the saw guide down at that same distance from the cut line. That way the wide part of the sole plate is resting on the wood so your saw will be well supported instead of hanging off in the air. The blade will NOT catch and bend or grab; it's turning too fast. You can shave the tiniest fraction off the edge in this manner. If you keep the sole plate flat against the guide without wobbling, the cut will be fairly smooth.
If you find your board after cutting is a little longer or shorter than you intended DON'T make adjustments to the process. Measure and cut all the boards the same way and they will be consistent, if a little short.
This isn't the biggest or last mistake you'll make. It's the recovery that counts.
DonkeyHody "We are all ignorant, just about different things." - Will Rogers
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote: : I'm building a tv/stereo cabinet (my first woodworking project) and had : the lumber cut at Home Depot. As I expected, their cuts were not very : square or accurate and now I need to fine tune the pieces to get them : perfectly square and even. The main pieces I'm concerned about are the : four vertical pieces that will be attached to the top and bottom using : butt joints with biscuits and glue. I don't want to reduce the overall : height of the boards, if I can avoid it. I just want to just shave off : as little as possible to square them and even them up.
: The height of the boards varies by up to 1/4" and the HD cuts weren't : square. For example, I might have to take off 1/4 off one side, : tapering down to nothing on the other side. the edges to be trued up : were crosscut (against the grain).
: My tools include a circular saw, aluminum saw guide, clamps, a belt : sander and a small 7" hand plane.
: I was going to try and clamp the saw guide in place and try the : circular saw, but I'm wondering if this is a good idea. I'm thinking : that it might not cut straight when it gets to the part of each board : where the amount of wood to be removed is very narrow, and that the : blade would "catch" and bend.
This won't be a problem -- the circular saw will spin the blade fast enough that you'll be eating into the wood slowly (in terms of the number of teeth per inch). A handsaw would deflect, but a circular saw and guide will work fine.
: The belt sander might not be good either, since it probably wouldn't : make a flat and square edge suitable for gluing. Maybe I should buy a : larger hand plane?
A hand plane can trim endgrain, but you had the right idea with the powered saw.
: I know that a jointer would be ideal
I hope I haven't misunderstood what you're trying to do here. If you're cutting across the grain, i.e. across the width of the board (as opposed to along its length), a jointer isn't the tool to use.
In any event, absent a tablesaw, do what you'd planned to do.
    -- Andy Barss
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Thanks for the replies. The reason I don't want to shorten the vertical members, as DH guessed, is limited clearance for my components. The stand is for a 60" tv and with these large sets, the cabinets need to be low in order to have the center of the screen more or less at eye level when sitting on a sofa. I planned for the stand height to be 21" including casters and with two shelves on one side (it's a 3-"bay" cabinet), there's only about 5" of height for each component. Though the components will fit, there's only an inch or so of excess height, which doesn't leave much room for air circulation.
But an extra 1/4" off the height shouldn't matter. I'll trim the pieces with the circular saw. I tried trimming one piece using my original cut line and it didn't cut straight where the line tapers too close to the edge. The saw needs something to cut into all the way through the cut, or else it veers off line. I'll draw another line further in.
I guess I could also use 1/2" plywood or glass for the shelves, which would add a bit more breathing space compared to the 3/4" I was going to use (I'm using 3/4 for the top, bottom and the 4 vertical pieces).
I may also leave the side bays open in back and put a back only on the center bay, but I'm not sure if that would be strong enough to prevent racking compared to using a full back. BTW, is a rabbet joint the best way to attach a back, or are biscuits better?
I really need to buy a table saw. Actually, I'd like to setup a woodworking shop in the garage, but it's a big investment. Are those $100 portable table saws good enough for occasional light cabinetry work, or should they be avoided altogether?
A couple more questions if anyone's still reading:
When doing a butt joint (with biscuits), would it help to make some small holes or to score the surface of the face (birch) that will be mated to the edge of the second piece, so that the glue will penetrate better into the wood? I'm using Titebond III glue.
Can someone suggest a filler or putty to use to fill-in imperfections and spliterings, that will be fairly unnoticeable after staining (i.e. a putty that absorbs stain at about the same rate as birch)?
What circular saw blade would be best to use to minmize splintering? I'm using a Skillsaw with a 7" general purpose blade.
Thanks again.
Andrew Barss wrote:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

This is true when trying to follow a line freehand. But if you use a clamp-on guide, the pressure you hold sideways against the guide should keep you on track.

Save your money. The tables are too small, the rips they'll take too narrow, the fences too weak, etc etc.

It's not necessary to help the glue penetrate the wood. The glue does this through the "wetting" action that's only a few cells deep, not by mechanically travelling several layers deep. The problem with plywood joints is not the face grain, it's the edge. The end-grain of the crossed layers acts like a million tiny soda straws and sucks too much of the glue away from the joint, leaving it somewhat starved. If you want to improve your plywood bonds, mix glue half-and-half with water and brush on the edges to be glued. Wait for it to dry thoroughly, then glue as usual. The thinned glue will plug the straws to some extent and improve the bond.

A plywood blade will help quite a bit, but the cut will be slower, and you may get some burn marks on the edges. You might try putting masking tape on the top side, where the splintering is worse, and saw through the tape.
DonkeyHody "A bulldog can whip a skunk, but it's probably not worth it."
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Yeah, that's why every trim carpenter in the country uses them.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
CW wrote:

There's a world of difference between the jobsite saws you're talking about and the $100 hobby saws he's talking about.
DonkeyHody "We should be careful to get out of an experience only the wisdom that is in it - and stop there; lest we be like the cat that sits down on a hot stove-lid. She will never sit down on a hot stove-lid again---and that is well; but also she will never sit down on a cold one anymore." - Mark Twain
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
That's a good tip. However, I read elsewhere that Titebond glue does not glue to itself (something to do with the formula/properties). This makes it hard to repair joints that were originally glued with Titebond, since all of the old glue must be removed. Maybe some other types of glue like Elmers don't have this issue. Or perhaps there something else (Elmer's, maybe?) that can be used as the end-grain sealing agent, which Titebond will adhere to.
I'll try it the regular way and hope that it's strong enough.
DonkeyHody wrote:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:
> That's a good tip. However, I read elsewhere that Titebond glue does > not glue to itself (something to do with the formula/properties). This > makes it hard to repair joints that were originally glued with > Titebond, since all of the old glue must be removed.
<snip>
That's why 1,500 watt heat guns were invented.
Heat the existing joint, reclamp and allow to cool.
Part of the joy of working with TiteBond.
Lew
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

You're right. I checked the Titebond website and found I had gotten the timing wrong! It says to brush the sizing mixture on and wait NO MORE THAN 2 MINUTES before gluing as usual. Sorry for the bad info. Good catch.
DonkeyHody
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
before I read any further and forget.
If you make a little mess on the scrap side of the line thats fine, just remember not to go through the line with whatever you do. Only then do you need a new line. You can clamp sacrificial guide pieces on either side of the piece at the cut line so that you could use your plane or sander. Best if you had some steel bars or something. When doing that, if you do it patiently, you can see if you're going over the line, and how to control it.
A TS for just a little more money than what you said, possibly used, is a hobby tool worth getting. Even the one you mentioned is worth getting. You need to know whast to look for, and if/how to build your own crosscut sled, and mitre sled, and if you got the guides in TS, or can get them to work. A good fence is all thats left. Straight/angles/height/spinning is al besides flatness and breadth of the m/c s top.
-
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Okay, this morning I trimmed all of the pieces using the square/guide/circular saw. I'm pretty happy with the results. All pieces are square (face-wise) and the vertical pieces are exactly the same height. I only needed to take 1/8" off the overall height. Using our large, stable picnic table as a workbench made all the difference.
The edges, however are not perfectly square all the way down. For example, while all of the boards will stand up when placed on the edges, some are a bit wobbly. This might be due to the saw blade flexing a bit or I didn't hold the saw perfectly level at all times. I made a couple of saw passes to try and get it as square as possible.
Do I need to get the edges perfect to result in a strong butt joint (I'm also using biscuits), or will the glue take care of any imperfections.
BTW, though it might have sounded like it, I wasn't blaming HD for the imprecise cuts. It was my mistake to hope they'd get it right, or close enough.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
you have to add 1/4" b/c the guy may need half of it to set the saw, and the rest of the world is betting against you for the o/ half.
-
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
actually in reality it is fair enough to add less than that and perfect it on a TS, or whatever when you get it home. Of course this has implications on the design. Even if you got only half a blades thickness left, a TS will make quick work of it. Something I hadn't considerd as significant. OTOH, I had a dozen different strips cut from a 4' x 8; mdf for door jambs and had nothing to worry about.
-
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Related Threads

    HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.