how far out of square is acceptable

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Forum topic by jm540 posted 01-29-2009 03:46 AM 3050 views 0 times favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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150 posts in 3955 days

01-29-2009 03:46 AM

I am building an entertainment center using birch ply and poplar face frames. I got my ply rough ripped on the table saw. then rough cross cut with a circular saw. I then built a cross cut sled to rip the panels my miter saw would not handle. I finish ripped 80% of my wood and finished crosscutting it. As I ripped one of the last boards I actually saw the saw blade deflecting. So I went back to my stack of 5 sheets of $50 dollar a sheet ply wood and checked for square I found I was out a 16th in 2’. I checked my very carefully constructed cross cut sled and it was out about a 32nd in 18”. I have to work around this but I was thinking How much is acceptable.

-- jay Rambling on and on again

19 replies so far

View Jens's profile


16 posts in 3941 days

#1 posted 01-29-2009 04:07 AM

Depends on how big the entertainment center cabinets will be. If you are building 8’ tall cabinets, then it’ll be 4/16”, or 1/4” out over the height of the thing…if that were your crosscut edge (gotta love those 8×16’ sheets). So your 8’ tall cabinet will have a variance of +/- 1/16”? I don’t think I would worry, but it sounds like a personal decision to me. You can only get those sleds close enough sometimes. My old table saw had more play than that I think!

-- Search out the Kavanah in occupation, acheive peace in life.

View Brad_Nailor's profile


2545 posts in 4493 days

#2 posted 01-29-2009 04:11 AM

Well, in the shops that I have worked in anything more than a 1/32” isn’t good. Its not to say that you cant make it work, but you will have problems down the road if the carcass is out of square getting things to go on right like the face frame and getting draws to operate smoothly. You might be able to square it up a little as you assemble. What kind of blade are you using in your table saw? A good quality blade shouldn’t deflect when your cutting. 1/16” doesn’t sound like much..and if you were building a deck or framing a house that would be acceptable…but cabinet work you need to raise the bar! But like I said, you can tweak it a little and make it work.


View sIKE's profile


1271 posts in 4290 days

#3 posted 01-29-2009 05:05 AM

It won’t be pretty. Out of square over small runs you can work with but once you get into case work you are asking for nothing but headaches and heartaches…just my two cents.

-- //FC - Round Rock, TX - "Experience is what you get just after you need it"

View Jens's profile


16 posts in 3941 days

#4 posted 01-29-2009 06:21 AM

I think what it would end up having, is a back side that is 1/16 taller than the front. That is how I am understanding it at least, may be wrong. Is that what it would be like? Of course, I guess that would make every shelf and divider out of square that much too, wouldn’t it. Ahhh! Going to bed now.

-- Search out the Kavanah in occupation, acheive peace in life.

View jm540's profile


150 posts in 3955 days

#5 posted 01-29-2009 07:19 AM

brad nailor 32nd in what

-- jay Rambling on and on again

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 4429 days

#6 posted 01-29-2009 07:28 AM

it can become exponential in wrath

square is key

............................if it were going in the basement, or the shop, or the kids room or the out laws or sister inlaws then I’ld say nail it and say nothing to anyone and no one will be the wiser.

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

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Tom Adamski

306 posts in 4307 days

#7 posted 01-29-2009 07:33 AM

Measure it with a micrometer… Mark it with a piece of chalk… Cut it with a chain saw…

But seriously folks… I would suggest perfecting your technique and your sled to make perfect square cuts. Start with something you know is square. Beg, borrow or steal a Starrett square.


-- Anybody can become a woodworker, but only a Craftsman can hide his mistakes.

View jm540's profile


150 posts in 3955 days

#8 posted 01-29-2009 07:48 AM

I should clarify

deflection a 64th over 4’

cross cut a 32nd in 18”

the blade is an older hollow ground plywood cut blade it was given to me by a mentor that used to own a cabinet shop. he gave me several blades because he had 4x what he now needed. I removed the blade after I saw this but I’ll tell you my best new blade still did not have as few tear outs and rougher ends.

=16th in 2’ (maybe I just answered my own question brad) out of square on 2×34”x18 3/4” sides 2×32” x 18 9/16” intermede uprights and 2×1’4”x189/16” center not to mention the horizontals

-- jay Rambling on and on again

View jm540's profile


150 posts in 3955 days

#9 posted 01-29-2009 07:54 AM

jens I know about old saws my table saw is a 1949 delta rockwell and it took 3 over howells but i’ll put it up against a new one any day

saw without stand or motor 180#

plastic = 0

-- jay Rambling on and on again

View woodyoda's profile


117 posts in 3993 days

#10 posted 01-30-2009 03:21 AM

jm540 If you are building this for yourself, your can scale down a little and straight cut parts, if your building for someone else, that’s a different story. Most people can see the mistakes you see, that’s like Adamski said, “it takes a craftsman to hide his mistakes” and that is the right word “hide”
On highrise buildings, sometimes I can hide a 1 inch mistake, it ALL depends on where it is…...........yoda

View Karson's profile


35207 posts in 4936 days

#11 posted 01-30-2009 03:28 AM

I’d go for cleaning up the cuts. It sounds that you would only loose a 1/8” by getting every thing square. Other problems are bound to happen. But, at least it won’t be two problems that interact.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View efisher's profile


1 post in 3938 days

#12 posted 01-31-2009 09:26 AM

I’m not a highly experienced woodworker but I have done enough work to understand the importance of making sure that all parts are cut square. When I first started building things I’d check my cuts every now and then and my mantra at that time was, ‘that’s close enough’. What I came to later realize was that after about the third ‘close enough’ you were going to have a heck of a time building something that didn’t look like a drunk monkey played a part in.

If your components are cut square and are properly sized…as in parts that are supposed to be the same length are REALLY the same length…you’ll have no problem assembling them or adding additional materials later. So, I’d suggest that you take the time to correct your mistakes before you go farther.

Just my humble opinion.

View noknot's profile


548 posts in 3977 days

#13 posted 01-31-2009 02:39 PM

I teach young kids how to build things and there is one way to fix the out of square problem. Trim the mistake out and down size the whole project. or you stand to be driven insane by a small problem good luck sir


View motthunter's profile


2141 posts in 4335 days

#14 posted 01-31-2009 03:26 PM

Because of all the dadoes, grooves and otherwise. I try o be square period. Wood is dynamic and will move some, so any deviation from square can get exaggerated quickly.

-- making sawdust....

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 4498 days

#15 posted 01-31-2009 04:37 PM

Many years ago, I was working for the man who was my mentor in the saddlemaking trade. I asked Dick what was the allowable difference when setting a rigging. With a shocked look he replied, ” Why, none, of course!!!”. It needs to be square, what ever it takes. Think of the “Princess and the Pea”.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

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