squaring up a post with minimal tools

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Forum topic by Chuck posted 08-28-2009 03:49 AM 1385 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Chuck 's profile


88 posts in 2617 days

08-28-2009 03:49 AM

Dear All, I am what I would consider a beginner woodworker, and I am making a bed for my 3 yo daughter. I started with milling the bed posts (final dimension to be 1 3/4 square) with a hand plane from rough cherry stock. I have no problem flattening the first face, and I can flatten and parallel the opposite face as well. But when it comes to the other two sides I plane and plane but just cannot make them perfectly perpendicular. any ideas? I have no table saw, band saw, or planer. Thanks for any advice.


-- Chuck, Washington D.C.

8 replies so far

View a1Jim's profile


115166 posts in 2994 days

#1 posted 08-28-2009 03:55 AM

It should work if you just keep checking your post with a square and use pencil marks where more material needs to be removed. sneak up on it as a friend of mine says.

-- Custom furniture

View Chuck 's profile


88 posts in 2617 days

#2 posted 08-28-2009 04:23 AM

so its shave and measure, shave and measure? Maybe I can do it. Thanks.

-- Chuck, Washington D.C.

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13347 posts in 3090 days

#3 posted 08-28-2009 12:31 PM

It might work, a hand plane is usually not the right tool to make two surfaces perendicular, but it can work. I mostly use my hand planes for finish.

View Sam Yerardi's profile

Sam Yerardi

244 posts in 3312 days

#4 posted 08-28-2009 03:41 PM

Chuck, One thing you can try is to clamp a straight-edge against the parallel sides you have that are finished and use that as a guide to hold your hand plane against. I would suggest doing this sort of as ‘training wheels’ at first to give you a feel for holding the plane perpendicular to the other surfaces. Another method is to cup your left hand over the plane and the parallel side such that your hand is acting as a fence. Go slow and concentrate at first on keeping the plane perpendicular. I believe what is happening in your instance is that your plane may be simply following the contour. A longer plane will help address that problem, but the smaller the plane, the more difficult it is, but it is doable.

-- Sam

View BeeJay's profile


71 posts in 2604 days

#5 posted 09-16-2009 01:20 PM

Another trick I have used is to clamp a piece of laminated MDF to the side of the plane. Long and deep enough to be stable but clear of the workbency/vice etc. Double check the blade is square to the board and use it as a guide. Hold it firm against the flate face as you plane through.

-- If you try to fail and succeed, what have you done?

View bobthebuilder647's profile


128 posts in 2669 days

#6 posted 09-16-2009 03:19 PM

I had to do that in high school shop class. We were not aloud to move on to the project and power tools untill we could make a block perfectly square with a hand plane. I still hate hand plane today. LOL

Sorry I don’t remember if there were any tricks to it, just a lot of patients

-- Rick, Pa. Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.

View PurpLev's profile


8523 posts in 3065 days

#7 posted 09-16-2009 03:51 PM

practice practice practice.

as mentioned – you can clamp a straight-edge or a piece of MDF/other as a guide-fence similar to this from lee-valley – remember thought, that in order to use a fence as a “fool-proof” method – your plane has to be perfectly tuned (blade has to be extended evenly with the sole of the plane on both sides and has to be straight and square) and plane’s side has to be perpendicular to it’s sole.

hand planes ARE most definitely used to square up stock. I personally don’t clamp a straight edge but plane a little and check for square – and plane some more based on high spots – similar to what a1Jim suggested

good luck, sounds like you’ve got thins going well! just need to practice the fine details, and train your muscle memory.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View davcefai's profile


37 posts in 2813 days

#8 posted 10-06-2009 07:34 PM

If you find that you are consistently tilting the plane to one side you may need to adjust your stance. I think it is because one’s wrists have a “Natural” position relative to the forearm. You then need to move the rest of your body to compensate.

-- David

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