Woodworking Tips: How to Square Board Edges and Make Your Own 2x2s

Crumb hoarding cracks.  That’s what I think about when I buy boards at the lumber yard or big box store.

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Do you want a crumb hoarding crack on your table top??  Hang on a second….let’s define “crumb hoarding crack” before this gets out of hand….HA….no really, what were you thinking about?

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This is what I call a crumb hoarding crack.

You see, the 2x boards at the lumber yard and big box store (and some of the 1x stuff, too) comes with these rounded corners.

How to square edges of 2x boards

That big gap in the middle of those two boards above is because two rounded edges are sitting next to each other.  This creates a “valley.”  Sometimes this look is desired and that’s totally fine.  But all I think about when I see joints like this (typically with table tops) is all the crumbs and dust that will get stuck in there and never find it’s way out.

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So, I prefer to ALWAYS square my table top edges so you get nice clean joints and no crumb hoarding gaps 🙂 Like this:

So, clearly, I’m not a fan of these rounded corners.  But I’m also not a fan of something else…twisted 2x2s.

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If you were to take a trip to the big box store right now and look at their 2×2 boards, you will likely notice that many of them are twisted, warped, bent, and they also have those rounded corners.  So, obviously, that’s no good.

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You can’t make pieces like this X Base Console with a bunch of twisted 2x2s.  They have to be straight, and have clean corners.

How to build a DIY X base console table with middle shelf for added storage--free building plans!

So, today, I want to show you how to square off those rounded corners AND make your own 2x2s that are way better and cheaper than the ones at the big box store.

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Grab a table saw, some 2x4s (or 2x whatever you want) and let’s get started 🙂  PS be very careful when using a table saw.  They can be dangerous.  Be careful to use a push stick and not get your fingers close to the blade.

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For this example, we will use 2x4s.  If you want to square off wider boards, the process is the same, but the numbers will be different.  This is also the method I use to square off boards to make table tops like shown in this post.

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First, let’s talk about dimensions of a 2×4.  They are not actually 2″ x 4″, but they are 1 1/2″ x 3 1/2″ (or in my case as you can see, mine was actually only 3 3/8″ wide…dimensions are not always exact when you buy them–which is another reason for squaring off everything so it’s the same size).  FYI 2x6s are 1 1/2″ x 5 1/2″, 2x8s are 1 1/2″ x 7 1/4″, 2x10s are 1 1/2″ x 9 1/4″ and 2x12s are 1 1/2″ x 11 1/4″.

How to square off a 2x board to make cleaner joints

So, to square off the edge, I adjust my table saw blade height to cut through 2x material (so slightly over 1 1/2″ tall), then move my rip fence so that it will trim off about 1/4″.  Since a normal 2×4 is 3 1/2″ wide, adjust the rip fence 3 1/4″ from the blade.

How to make your own straight 2x2s

How to remove rounded corners from 2x lumber

Once the board is run through, you get a nice square edge on one side of the board.

Now, if you want to use this 2×4 (or whatever size board you are cutting) to make a table top or a piece of furniture, you would then need to adjust the rip fence another 1/4″ closer to the blade and cut the other side to remove the rest of the rounded corners.  Then it’s ready to use.  I did this on my DIY upholstered couch and the edges were nice and crisp!

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BUT, if you are wanting to cut some nice, clean, straight 2x2s, this is what you do next.

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Once you have one square edge on your board, adjust the rip fence 1 1/2″ from the blade and run your board though MAKING SURE THE SQUARE SIDE IS AGAINST THE FENCE.  This ensures that all corners of your 2×2 are nice and square.

How to make your own 2x2s

How to cut 2x2s from 2x4s

You can run the remaining piece through again keeping the square edge against the rip fence so that you have two 2x2s from one 2×4 board.  You will be left with a thin piece of wood that cut the remaining rounded corners off the original 2×4.

Now you have some nice, clean, straight 2x2s ready to build with 🙂

How to get square corners on 2x lumber

How to get straight 2x2s to build DIY furniture with

If you are looking for some good projects to use 2x2s or nice clean squared off 2x4s on, here are a few 🙂

DIY Aquarium Cabinet Stand

DIY Media Console

DIY X Base Console

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One final note about squaring off your boards and making your own 2x2s…Keep in mind that if you follow plans you have found online or in a book that calls for these size boards, you may have to make some measurement adjustments.

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If you squared off your 2×4 like above, it will end up being only 3″ wide.  Regular 2x4s will be 3 1/2″ wide.  So if a plan calls for a 2×4 (or a 2×6, 2×8, etc), keep in mind that yours will not be as wide, so you may have to cut some of your other boards slightly longer to compensate.  It will just depend on what you are building.  Basically, just pay a little extra attention to make sure you cut things correctly 🙂

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I hope this post was helpful 🙂  This is a really useful tip if you make a lot of table tops, use a lot of 2x2s or just want some cleaner joints.

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I’d love if you’d pin this for later!  And stay tuned for more helpful tips and lots of fun builds coming soon!

Woodworking tips: how to square off board edges and make your own 2x2s for cleaner joints and smoother table tops on your own DIY furniture

Until next time, happy building! 🙂

 

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2 Comment

  1. Reply
    Mike
    November 28, 2017 at 3:45 pm

    Great post, I always remove the edges of all 2x’s before doing any work with them (I also sand them with 80 grit as well to make them look like actual boards and not just throw away framing wood).

    You can also glue the 2×4’s together to make (almost) 4×4’s. I used this method to make a new base for my dining room table, and it cost 1/3 of what I would have sent if I purchased actual 4×4’s

    1. Reply
      Shara, Woodshop Diaries
      November 30, 2017 at 3:38 pm

      Yes! Great point! I’ve done this before with a desk and it worked out great! It’s hard to find untreated 4x4s in this area, so a lot of times that’s my only option anyway haha. Glad you enjoyed the post 🙂 Thanks so much for reading!

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