How make straight cuts w/out jointer/planer?

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Forum topic by SmellTheWood posted 03-16-2015 02:43 PM 933 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1 post in 586 days

03-16-2015 02:43 PM

I’m building a shaker column out of MDF and I’m trying to figure how to make straight, even cuts on 75” stiles without jointer or planer. I’ve already cut them with my table saw but they’re not perfectly even. Suggestions/experiences would be greatly appreciated.

I only have contractor saw table, router, random-orbit sander, and some hand tools to work with. I can post my progress if anyone is interested.

Many thanks.

10 replies so far

View HornedWoodwork's profile


222 posts in 632 days

#1 posted 03-16-2015 03:08 PM

I assume your cuts aren’t straight because the edge riding your TS fence isn’t straight. A simple method would be to apply a straightedge to the MDF and run your router along this straightedge with a trim bit. You could use double sided tape or simply clamp it to the MDF (Watchout for sag in the middle of the cut, at 75” there will be plenty of sag in the middle if you simply clamp the ends). Another method would be to apply a straightedge to the MDF and run the straightedge against the fence of the saw. This will establish the cut edge as straight, then you can run the cut edge against the fence and you should have parallel edges assuming the TS is setup well.

-- Talent, brilliance, and humility are my virtues.

View MrUnix's profile


4022 posts in 1617 days

#2 posted 03-16-2015 03:12 PM

How could the factory edge of the MDF not be straight? Sounds like you need to tune-up your table saw. If you are using already cut MDF which isn’t straight, the above suggestion would work, or use the straight edge and a circular saw to clean it up. Lots of ways, and a jointer/planer is not always required.


-- Brad in FL - To be old and wise, you must first be young and stupid

View bonesbr549's profile


1137 posts in 2485 days

#3 posted 03-16-2015 03:14 PM

This is one way. Just use a factory edge from your mdf or a piece of ply and leave the pieces long and use a screw to attach, or use carpet tape.

-- Sooner or later Liberals run out of other people's money.

View InstantSiv's profile


259 posts in 1013 days

#4 posted 03-16-2015 03:15 PM

I would say to buy a cheap piece of ply and make a diy track saw for your router.

Rough cut the pieces on the table saw and use the track saw w/ router to the final dimensions.


Get the factory edge of a piece of ply and make an extended length fence for your table saw. That will make it easier to get a straight cut the length of the rip.

View runswithscissors's profile


2127 posts in 1443 days

#5 posted 03-20-2015 06:47 AM

MDF? I wouldn’t run it through a jointer or a planer.

-- I admit to being an adrenaline junky; fortunately, I'm very easily frightened

View dhazelton's profile


2283 posts in 1714 days

#6 posted 03-20-2015 01:29 PM

I’d make the rails and stiles out of real wood, not MDF. And yeah – I wouldn’t try to joint it either.

View MT_Stringer's profile


2818 posts in 2649 days

#7 posted 03-20-2015 02:42 PM

I don’t know what a shaker column is. Post a picture of what you are attempting to make.

Are you saying you have ripped the pieces to length and they are not the same width when you stack them on edge? I am not sure what would cause that – dull blade, short fence maybe.

One option would be to make an auxillary fence that is longer, say 40 inches or thereabouts. Attach it to the table saw fence. Then when you rip longer boards, they will follow the fence and help eliminate any wayward moment. Regardless, the distance from the blade to the fence should remain constant when the cutting is taking place.

Good luck.

-- Handcrafted by Mike Henderson - Channelview, Texas

View Ghidrah's profile


667 posts in 640 days

#8 posted 03-20-2015 05:57 PM

Shaker columns are square instead of round, apparently they can also be tapered. Some pics I’ve seen also have corner trim. I’d consider using MDO over MDF whether its for outside or not, it’ll make painting easier too.

-- I meant to do that!

View mrg's profile


655 posts in 2417 days

#9 posted 03-20-2015 07:08 PM

Thats a long rip. Are you sure your not walking away from the fence, or that the fence is deflecting. If the parts are wider as your cutting them you may have knocked the fence out of alignment.

-- mrg

View devann's profile


2199 posts in 2110 days

#10 posted 03-20-2015 10:57 PM

How wide are you stiles? I’ve learned that cutting some sheet stock into thin rips sometimes ends up with a slight bow. I believe it is because of the glue and the heat generated by the cutting action. I’ve learned that when ripping osb 6” and smaller I end up with a curved rip. I’ve seen mdf do the same when I was ripping it into 1 1/2”,2” rips for doubling thickness at counter top edges. Plywood seems to be more stable.

-- Darrell, making more sawdust than I know what to do with

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