Lee Valley Tools Woodworking Newsletter
Vol. 1, Issue 2
January 2007
Make a Wooden Straightedge

How to Make a Wooden Straightedge
The ideal wood to use for a straightedge is quartersawn, clear, straight-grained, fully acclimated to your shop and moves little as the humidity changes with the seasons. Many tropical woods, when fully dried, are optimal for straightedges.

Begin by sawing, jointing and surfacing your lumber to size. A handy size to have for workshop chores is 3/8 x 2-1/4 x 30. The thickness allows you to balance the tool easily on edge. The width allows you to grab it firmly in one hand. Finally, the length can be adjusted to suit your work.

To true the two faces of the straightedge, use a jointer plane or other long handplane to flatten each face. The time-honored way to ensure a flat face is to first remove a few shavings from the middle of the face followed by a few shavings along the entire face.

Now, true one long edge as best you can, either on your power jointer or with a long handplane. Mark this edge with a pencil to ensure you remember which edge is truly straight.

Planing the middle
Planing one edge
Fig. 2 - Flatten each face from the middle. Begin by planing about 6" from the end and stop planing about 6" from the other end. Follow this with a pass or two along the entire length of the board. Flip the board over and repeat. Fig. 3 - True one long edge of your stock – you can refine the edge later if need be. Note how I use the fingers of my left hand as a fence against the work. This encourages a square edge.
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Face-Frame Slides

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