The first option for squaring or flattening boards for woodworking is the most historical option: using traditional woodworking hand tools. The process starts with rough cutting your lumber to an approximate width and length using hand saws, followed by rough flattening of the first face with a jack plane. Winding sticks and a straight edge are used to gauge the flatness of the first board face, and when it’s relatively flat, a jointer plane makes the board totally flat, and a smoothing plane gives a glass-like finish.
Next the first edge is squared to the freshly flattened face using a jointer plane. Then a second edge is made parallel to the first with a panel gauge, hand saw, and hand planes. A marking gauge is used to mark a uniform board thickness, and then the second face is flattened using hand planes, similar to the first. And finally the two ends are cut off with a crosscut hand saw, and trued up using a block plane or shooting board.
This traditional hand tool woodworking method is safer, quieter, and offers more exercise. That’s a great option for woodworkers who have a sedentary desk job. However, if you’ve got a large furniture project, squaring boards by hand can take a very long time, and may delay the more enjoyable parts of furniture making: the joinery. To see my in-depth 10 step article and video on squaring boards with hand tools, click the button below: