Trueing Up Wood Step by Step
The most vital operation in woodworking is measuring and marking out accurately. If this is inaccurate, the job is ruined from the start. Check work continually as you proceed, with rule, square and straightedge.
No matter what shape a piece of wood is to end up as, it must have one flat face and one square edge to start with. All subsequent marking out is done from these two true surfaces; to achieve them follow this procedure.
First decide which of the two wider surfaces is the better, both in looks and grain. This will be your face side.
Plane this face until it is flat and level. Check across the grain with a steel rule for humps or hollows. Check any possible twist in the length, called ‘winding’, with two parallel battens (winding strips), one at each end of the timber. Sight across them and plane until they are level. Remember that the longer the plane, the truer the surface it produces.
Pencil a loop on the trued-up face with the end of the pencil line extending to the better of the two edges.
Plane the face edge until it is straight and square with the face side. Check for squareness all along its length with a try-square. Hold the stock of the square firmly against the face side. If daylight shows between the wood and the blade at any point, the edge is not square and must be planed until it is.
When the face edge is true, continue your face side mark across the face edge. All subsequent marking out will be made from these two faces.
Now set your gauge to the required thickness and score a line from the face side along both edges. Plane carefully until you reach the centre of the gauge grooves. Then set the gauge to width. Mark both sides from the face edge, and again plane to the centre of the grooves. The timber is now squared up all round, ready for marking out.
To summarise: plane, test and mark the face side; plane, test and mark the face edge; gauge and plane to thickness; gauge and plane to width.