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How do you cut wide boards to length?

How do you lay out boards for cutting?

How do you deal with or reduce warp/bow/cup and wood movement?

How do you cut wide boards to length?

There are a couple of options, which all rely on some element of stock preparation. We have a few videos on stock preparation on our YouTube channel but also have a few which aren’t there on our Woodworking Masterclasses site which you can access with a free subscription.


or on Woodworking Masterclasses (requires a free subscription) with an extra on on preparing rough stock here:

Stock Preparation

How do you lay out boards for cutting?

If your board is under 24″ wide, which it is in most situations that we deal with, and you have a parallel board with square edges (which is the norm once you have gone through the process of prepping your stock) you can use your 12″ square from each edge and check that the knifeline is in line in the central overlap region.

If you have one square end, you can also measure up from there to the required length, make a knife or pencil mark towards each edge which you can use to line up a longer steel rule or a wooden straight edge to mark on your knifeline.

You can also align a wooden straight edge (which is much quicker to make than a square, so wear is not such a big deal) with your 12″ square and then use that to get your knifeline.

I tend to use different methods depending on which suits the situation.

How do you deal with or reduce warp/bow/cup and wood movement?

If you take wood into a new environment, there is quite often movement. This can be greatly reduced by putting the stock into a bag or airtight contained and only removing it when you are working on it. Once the joinery is complete and you can leave, for example, the dovetails and therefore the box assembled as the joints often constrict the wood stopping it from warping.

Sometimes, if you leave the board to fully acclimate making sure that air can get at all sides of the wood, the warp can even out, but there is no guarantee.

If you only have a small amount of twist or bow/cup then tight joinery, particularly in the case of dovetails, will actually pull the piece square. Sometimes you would have to brace the piece with a straight block and clamps to hold it straight when laying out, fitting and assembling.

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