Wood – Good technique for squaring-up hardwood edges


I'm building a small shelf for organising my desk, using sections of 42mm*19mm hardwood. I've cut the pieces to appropriate length using a hand saw, allowing some tolerance for the kerf. Now I'd like to ensure the cut ends are square.

Using a sanding block with some garnet paper, and a try square for checking, I'm trying to shape the cut edges. However, I'm finding it difficult to get a good perpendicular line with the sanding; it seems that I'm rounding the end off too much, rather than sanding perfectly perpendicular to the piece.

Back in high school woodwork class, we'd do this with a disc sander mounted into a solid table, ensuring that the sanding is done in a flat plane. Unfortunately, having left high school some 13 years ago, I no longer have access to one of these.

So, does anyone have a good technique for sanding the edges square? Or should I give up on sanding and use some other method? Or bite the bullet and buy a small disc sander?

Best Answer

You don't say what saw you used to cut the wood, but if you use a tenon saw you should get a cleaner cut in the first place that requires less sanding. This is because the saw has finer teeth for a smoother cut and a stiffening spine that means you get a straighter cut.

Clamping a second piece of wood to use as a guide is another alternative.

Alternatively you could use a plane to remove the excess wood - but make sure that you clamp a piece of scrap wood to the end of the plank to avoid it splitting:

------> direction of plane
|         |   |
|    ^    |   | <- Scrap
|    |    |   |
|    |    |   |
  direction of grain