# Trying to square a 4x4 piece of hard maple

I am making a kitchen island that will have 3.5" square legs made from maple. I bought 2 pieces of 16/4 hard maple about 8.5" wide and ripped each one in half leaving me 4 rough ~4x4 pieces about 4 foot long. So, I am trying to square them now on a small 4" jointer that I have. Although I know this Jointer is very accurate, ( set it up with a dial gauge and have successfully flattened and jointed quite a few boards on it) I cannot seem to get 2 sides of these big pieces to be square with each other. When I take them off the jointer and lay them on my table saw, one jointed face down, and put a square between the saw table and the other jointed face there is always a gap. I know the jointer fence is square with the top. This is very frustrating. I'm wondering if I can somehow use my planer to get this thing square all around.
Any suggestions?
-Jim
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I would consider this a normal sequence:
This does assume that each tool is tuned and used properly.
- Joint one face on each stick
- Plane the opposite face straight across from the jointed face. You now have two parallel faces.
- Saw one of the untouched faces to establish one square edge. This assumes the saw blade is giving an accurate cut.
- Plane the side opposite the newly sawn surface. You now have two sets of parallel faces that should be square on all edges.
- I assume at this point that you are very close to finish dimension. Plane to finish dimension, quarter turn each stick to plane to full square.
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DanG
Keep the whole world singing . . .
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Thank you, and I would agree. However, my table saw has, at best, a 3.5" cut. So I will have to make 2 cuts on the table saw which doesn't leave a nice finish, but I supppose I can plane it flat.
-Jim
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wrote:

Jim, try using a cabinet scraper to smooth the saw cuts. They work VERY well.
-- Happiness comes of the capacity to feel deeply, to enjoy simply, to think freely, to risk life, to be needed. -- Storm Jameson
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jtpr wrote:

Either the jointer fence is _not_ square to the table (or the knives aren't parallel to the table is another possibility) or you're not keeping the previously jointed (reference) face flush against the fence in order to square the next one. Or, if the jointer isn't up to snuff, perhaps the fence moves or is twisted.
As another poster noted, you can get two opposite faces parallel w/ the planer but you can _not_ use it to square two faces (at least w/o some other shimming sled, etc., ...)
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dpb wrote: ...

...
Oh, one other possibility is that your square isn't...check two pieces against each other that have been "squared" by the jointer. They can be anything so could use some lighter material to make it easier handling.
I'm still suspecting the jointer may just not be stout enough for the material but it's still more likely to be technique or set up...
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As I understand it - joiner for a flat side. A planner makes a parallel side.
The trick is to transfer a vertical parallel side to transfer onto the joiner table/blade. It is how the wood is held while pushing it through naturally.
Lacking a planer, one must have a flat side and use that off the fence cutting another as you rotate the leg step by step.
Martin
On 11/28/2010 10:28 AM, dpb wrote:

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On Sun, 28 Nov 2010 20:31:37 -0600, Martin Eastburn

I'd be jointing one side straight, then planing the opposite surface to match, then jointing the third side straight, and running it through the planer again to square up the 4th side. After all 4 sides are trued up, use the planer to reduce to the desired dimensions.
Square it up first removing as little wood as possible to allow for some fine tuning if required.
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How would you square up the sides to the top/bottom, though? I have seen this attempted by others and it becomes a comedy sometimes, like the trimming the stool legs.
Initial jointing and opposite side planing then after square testing, shim as necessary and replane?
I don't own a planer. Can the pressure rollers be put on a slope to accomodate this?
I'd be jointing one side straight, then planing the opposite surface to match, then jointing the third side straight, and running it through the planer again to square up the 4th side. After all 4 sides are trued up, use the planer to reduce to the desired dimensions.
Square it up first removing as little wood as possible to allow for some fine tuning if required.
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Josepi wrote:

...
Specifically that way, no.
It is difficult to square two faces w/ a planer (to the point I'd not even bother trying as a general rule). Even if a side is flattened as reference, if the adjacent face is flattened there's no guarantee it's consistent along it's length with the previous face (the two surfaces can be twisted relative to each other). So, there's not a guarantee that a single reference shim will get you square thru the planer.
The technique is to start w/ the reference face and then having a square fence on the jointer, hold that reference face against the fence for indexing rather than holding the face being jointed solidly on the table. It helps if one has gotten close w/ table saw or bandsaw or even w/ hand plane or however initially, of course.
I'm not sure what point of Martin's followup was--intended simply as confirmation in other wording or was trying to what...???
OP's problem is indeterminate for certain from afar -- if one presumes the tools are indeed aligned and accurate then it's technique. OTOH, sometimes one thinks things are what they aren't--if his square weren't quite so, for example, or the jointer fence isn't or...
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wrote:

Nope, but you've obviously not used one. If the first side is jointed straight, the second parallel side will always come out parallel and straight.
The third side is a repeat of the first, using the jointer, and the 4th side then also comes out parallel and straight - and if the third edge is jointed square, which is not difficult, the whole part will be "square" - could be a rectangle, but 2 sets of sides will be equall, and all corners will be 90 degree (or VERY close)

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You have to hold it tight to the fence and let the cutter cut off the bottom.
It would be nice to have a sliding fence so you could clamp it tight.
With only a joiner - you have 1 true edge and three held to the fence trying to cut the bottom to match a 90 of the fence.
A planner is handy to make two sided parallel.
Martin
On 11/28/2010 9:32 PM, Josepi wrote:

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While they are on the table saw, why not square them up right there?
F Besides, unless the gap is pretty big, they are probably square enough to use as table legs as is.
--
Often wrong, never in doubt.

Larry Wasserman - Baltimore Maryland - lwasserm(a)sdf. lonestar. org
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On 11/28/2010 9:53 AM, jtpr wrote:

No sense chasing your tail trying to make table legs perfectly square.
All you really need are two adjacent faces of the legs perpendicular to each other ... these would be the two surfaces to which the aprons will be attached.
Providing your jointer fence is square to the jointer table and the tool is otherwise properly setup, you can indeed use the jointer to make two _adjacent faces_ perpendicular.
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Last update: 4/15/2010
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Jim,
Not trying to be a wise guy here, and assuming the fence is in fact at a right angle to the table, are you pushing the board tight to the fence as you feed it through the jointer? With stock of that shape the tendency is for the board to lay on the tables and for the high spots on the side of the board to touch the fence. This rather than for the side of the board to be tight to the fence and only touch the tables at the "high" spots on the bottom...
John
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John, That didn't sound like a wise guy, sounded like good advice. Was wondering if there's an upright version of a jointer? So that the board lay on what used to be the fence, and what used to be the table is now the fence, and the axis of the jointer cutterhead vertical rather than horizontal? I'm obviously not an experienced woodworker. Thanks, Kerry
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That would be a router table or a shaper with a huge vertical face bit!
That would be harder to handle keeping it flat against a vertical cutting fence. The opposite side could still be ragged and rough so a pushing fence would not work as a jointer but possibly as a planer.
John, That didn't sound like a wise guy, sounded like good advice. Was wondering if there's an upright version of a jointer? So that the board lay on what used to be the fence, and what used to be the table is now the fence, and the axis of the jointer cutterhead vertical rather than horizontal? I'm obviously not an experienced woodworker. Thanks, Kerry
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wrote:

No, actually it works very well - and is quite simple. A Kreg router table and fence is a joy to work on - and it's not terribly hard to make your own that will work just as well. The long cutter is the hardest part to locate. (or make)
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That would be a router table or a shaper with a huge vertical face bit!
That would be harder to handle keeping it flat against a vertical cutting fence. The opposite side could still be ragged and rough so a pushing fence would not work as a jointer but possibly as a planer.
John, That didn't sound like a wise guy, sounded like good advice. Was wondering if there's an upright version of a jointer? So that the board lay on what used to be the fence, and what used to be the table is now the fence, and the axis of the jointer cutterhead vertical rather than horizontal? I'm obviously not an experienced woodworker. Thanks, Kerry
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You could do that with a shaper and a split fence.... The limitation would be how tall of a cutter you could find within the context of bigger shapers taking bigger cutters.
I suppose it would be possible to set up a stock feeder to keep the wood tight against the fence. However, you are going to need something bigger than a 4" jointer for that simply due to the size and weight of the stock feeder.
John
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