Edge Jointing of Ripped Boards on Site

Here's a long list of suggestions and tips for getting a good clean edge on site-ripped wood. June 12, 2014

Does anyone have a way to joint their boards after ripping them at job sites to remove table saw blade markings? I have tried using my hand held power planer, but it tips on me and doesnít give me a true 90 degree edge. If I sand the edge, again, I lose the true 90. This problem only comes up once in a while for me, when I have to do a little frame and panel work on site, but it is something I would like to address. I was thinking of some sort of router fixture that was small enough to fit in the van easily and could joint the edges when needed. I appreciate any ideas on this.

Forum Responses
(Cabinet and Millwork Installation Forum)
From Contributor O:
A hand plane has been the tool of choice for a long time. They are cordless, portable and easily acquired - it is the tool for the job. Spend some time to learn how to sharpen and use it. If you have a hard time holding square, then place both boards right next to each other face to face, then plane the edges. Any angle will be compensated for when they come together. An added bonus is that anyone that sees you using one of these on the job will immediately think you know far more than he/she does and your stock will increase dramatically. It conveys a message of skill.

From contributor S:
You could also use a router table with a split fence setup like a jointer. Honestly even though hand tools don't see very much use anymore, clamping the boards together and taking two-three passes with a sharp hand plane would work as well.

From contributor G:
Are your boards too wide to fit through one of the small portable planers? You might have to build a little jig to hold them square.

From contributor D:
When we set up on a big job for a while I have a 6'' delta jointer maybe 175lbs, and it works well. If itís something small we use a Makita power planer. If itís possible try to figure what you need for the day and run it through the jointer or shaper in the shop each night or morning. Those are the ways they seem to work for us.

From contributor A:
Why not invest in a better quality blade to eliminate the saw marks? Assuming you are using a quality and adjusted tablesaw, a blade like Freud's glue line rip blade will produce glue-up ready boards. If you need a combo blade a Forrest 40t or a Ridge Carbide will do the same. This makes a better cut first and eliminates you handling each piece twice.

From the original questioner:
I have used the hand plane in the past, however when it catches figured grain and tears it thatís a hassle I donít need on a job site. The router or small router table seems to make sense to me. I could consider the straight edge and clamp technique, although clamping each piece before routing will take some time. I normally do as Contributor D says, however there are just times when you cannot preplan everything and end up needing to rip a piece here or there.

Contributor A - I have a Forest blade on the saw, but a Bosch job site saw just doesnít have a perfectly true and tight arbor so it leaves saw marks. I have tried four different tablesaws - both of the Bosch's, a Makita, and a Hitachi. All were job site saws, and none of them have been able to give me a rip cut without saw marks in it. I currently am using the new Bosch job site saw, and it cuts fast, but it doesnít run very smooth or true and you can feel the play in the arbor. I had the same issue with the previous Bosch that I got rid of.

From contributor M:
I don't know how long or how wide your boards are, but I find that using a Festool plunge cut saw achieves smooth, straight cuts. I never have any saw blade marks.

From the original questioner:
Thatís a good idea Contributor M. I usually donít think of ripping boards with the plunge saw, mostly using it for panels, but I could give a shot. Do you usually just use the stock blade for your rip cuts?

From contributor K:
How about a Porter Cable 126 Porta-Plane? They use a spiral cutterhead which handles highly figured woods with no problem. Folks who do a lot of doors swear by these things. Put the boards together face to face as Contributor O suggested to get your complementary angles and you are good to go. That being said, I always do my final fitting with a block plane.

From contributor M:
You can use the stock blade (48 T). I like to use a 28T rip blade witch does a good job.

From Contributor J:
Your original question indicated that your power plane worked for this, except for the tipping over issue. Most power planes come with a fence accessory that does a good job of holding at 90. My Bosch did, and it works well. If yours is gone, you might be able to go online for a replacement or get crafty and make one.

From contributor A:
Got you on the Forrest. You might want to check the sharpening - we got some blades back from them recently that cut poorly. Have you tried a high quality rip bade? If the saw is as you say - I'd say itís not really worth having except to do framing work, and no blade is going to help that. If you can notice slop with your hand then it's not an interior trim worthy saw period. There are 6" portable jobsite jointers with universal motors you might consider. They don't weigh much, and might help you if you aren't planing long stock.

The Festool will work, but not with a 48t blade - especially in hardwoods like oak, maple and some poplar. It'll burn up the wood, heat the blade and take forever to cut. Ripping narrow stock can be a pain too as the wide guide fence(s) need support on the non-cut side. You have to have a piece of stock handy to shim it up. Also, remember that if you change to the rip blade you'll need to re-fit the sacrificial cut strip which is time and money too. Itís fine if you do a lot of ripping, but if you do mostly panel work swapping blades/strips will get old real fast. You might try to borrow a DeWalt saw to see if that is any better. They were excellent when first. The Bosch had a solid rep too, so maybe these things just aren't what they used to be despite $500 price tags.

From Contributor R:
I would assume if you are getting burn you are either not using a feather board, your wood is grain tight, your fence is off, or you are ripping a large cabinet or wide board. I have to plane edges of cabinets on site, and I have had problems with snipe on hand planers also. Router and a flush bit with a straightedge is the best bet for a clean cut. Or bring a jointer to the jobsite if the parts are maneuverable!

From Contributor B:
I never could get a block plane to work. Maybe on pine,alder and poplar. I use a 3/16 orbital with fresh #80.

From Contributor V:
I worked at a cabinet shop back in the early eighties that applied a round sandpaper disc to the side of the table saw blade - same as the disc sander paper. You had to cut a hole for the spindle. It worked pretty well, you would be cutting and sanding at the same time. As far as making a really clean perfectly squared edge the sandpaper will only give a clean edge without kerf marks.

From Contributor C:
In the shop I keep a shaper set up with a six foot long fence and a 1/16 offset like a jointer and with a power feeder just for this purpose. With a three wing carbide cutter itís always straight and always square. In the field this can be duplicated with a 1/2 spindle shaper and a shop-made fence very easily and not too heavy for the jobsite and not too expensive. I have even worked for shops that mounted small saw blades on a 1/2 inch shaper with modified fences to do their rips instead of taking out the tablesaw at all.

From Contributor O:
There are now several smaller CNC machines that can used effectively to edge two boards together for gluing. These can be run on conventional power and moved to the job site. It may be advantageous to train several members of the crew on programming and set-ups, so edge jointing of boards can be done effectively. For about $2,000 to $6,000, you can get a machine and programming and put it on wheels and move it from shop to trailer to site with ease. Another few thousand on training and you are in business. Then when you need to glue those two pieces of 3/4 x 5" x 24" red oak together, you do not have to rely on centuries old solutions or hard fought skills to be successful at this work. Anyone can do it.

From contributor W:
Here are a couple of suggestions. Check your saw blade. Vibration in the jobsite saw may be the culprit. Take a look at Forrest and the Thin Kerf Glue Line rip from Freud. A well-tuned block plane or a #4 can give satisfactory results. Festool planer has a jobsite accessory that turns it into a mini jointer. Find the solution that fits your work habits.

From contributor N:
I use an edge trimming plane. It always keeps a perfect right angle and I don't have to deal with clamping up two boards together.

From contributor I:
The pc door plane is the way to go. I used it all the time for Corian and I use it to clean up boards as well. The new model is pricier but so much more accurate than a standard planer with an add-on fence. The spiral cutters eliminate a lot of chipping.