How to Get a Straight Edge on a 2×4 Piece of Wood

March 13, 2024
nicole

Hi! I'm Nicole

Fearless DIY. Sharing building project tutorials and interior design tips. Let’s build something beautiful together. For more projects, design tips and behind the scenes, follow me @designtobuild.nicole

More About Me

Search

Subscribe!

In most all of my furniture build tutorials, I encourage you to get rid of the manufactured edge on all of your boards. Ripping all of the boards down to a different width and making them a straight edge, gives your furniture a more finished look.

Today, I want to share just how easy it is to do this. When building furniture, I like to have the edge of my boards cut in a straight line and not curved.

HEADER IMAGE

When purchasing wood at the lumber yard, it comes with a factory edge. In other words, a curved edge. I like to get rid of that and cut my boards with a long straight edge.

My Latest Video…

So, how do you get a straight edge on a 2x piece of wood? Let’s look first at what a board straight from Home Depot (or whatever your big box store of choice is) looks like….

lumber on a cart at home depot

Notice that rounded, rough edge on the boards in the image above? For a more finished, designer look to our woodworking projects, it’s nice to cut a square edge.

Here’s an example of a furniture piece I built with factory edges. (You can find the link to how to build these outdoor chairs here)….

2 outdoor wooden chairs without a straight edge

And here’s a look at a furniture piece without the manufactured edge….  (Get the Plans to build this Pottery Barn Brooks Dining Table Dupe here).

furniture piece with a straight edge

Can you see the difference? Notice the straight lines in the table versus the more curved edges on the chairs?

Ok, so let me show you how easy it is to do this….

How to Get a Straight Edge on a 2X Piece of Wood

Materials Needed:

  • 2X piece of wood (for example: 2×4; 2×6, etc)
  • Table Saw….I did some searching and this is a really good deal on a table saw, if you’re just getting started in woodworking. I love that it comes with a stand, most table saws don’t. A stand will save your back and make it easier to move your saw around. I also feel that they make your table saw safer, since you’re not leaning over the saw on the ground.
  • Tape measure
  • Safety Glasses (My personal favorite pair 🙂   )
  • Ear Protection (The ones I have; They work great!)

Note: If you don’t have a table saw, you can use a track saw guide and a handheld circular saw to achieve the same results.

(Home Depot and Amazon Affiliate Links Included)

Step One: Determine the width you want your board to be

The first step is to determine the width you want each board to be.

A 2×4 actually measures 1.5 inches thick and 3.5 inches wide. So for this example, let’s say we want our boards to be 3 inches wide.

Step Two: Set your table saw

Set your table saw to 3.25 inches and pass one side of your board through. (Always be sure to use safety glasses and a push stick). You now have a board that measures 3 1/4 inches wide.

One side of your board has a perfectly straight edge and the other side still has a curved edge…

Cutting a straight edge with a table saw

Let’s make a perfect straight edge on both sides of the board. Moving on to step 3.

Step Three: Set your table saw again

Set your table saw again, but this time at 3 inches.

Pass the opposite side of your board through. You now have a 3 inch wide board.

And most importantly, your board edges are straight cuts. Which will look so much better for your furniture build.

It takes little time to achieve a much more finished look.

FAQ’s: Get a Straight Edge on Wood

What is a factory edge on lumber?

Factory edge refers to the original, often curved edge of the board as it comes from the lumber yard. It’s typically not perfectly straight, which isn’t great for furniture designs.

Why should I remove the factory edge from my lumber?

Removing the factory edge and creating a straight edge gives your furniture a more finished and professional look. Three benefits are:

  • it provides a good edge that aligns better for assembly
  • it enhances the overall design
  • it gets rid of that rough lumber feel the edge of a board generally has

What’s the first step in cutting a straight edge?

Set your table saw to slightly wider than your desired final width. For example, 3.25 inches for a final width of 3 inches. And cut one side to create a straight edge.

How do I ensure both edges of my board are straight?

After the first cut, adjust the table saw to the final desired width (e.g., 3 inches), and cut the opposite side. This ensures both edges have perfectly straight and parallel lines.

Is it difficult to cut a straight edge on lumber?

No, with the right tools and safety measures, it’s a straightforward process that significantly enhances the look of your furniture projects.

Where can I find more information on building furniture without factory edges?

Check the provided links in the article for step-by-step guides on building specific furniture pieces, like outdoor chairs and the Pottery Barn Brooks Dining Table Dupe, showcasing the difference straight edges can make.

How do I choose the right wood for my project?

Choosing the right wood depends on your project’s requirements, including durability, appearance, and budget. Hardwoods like oak and maple are great for furniture due to their strength and finish, while softwoods like pine can be easier to work with for beginners.

How do I maintain my table saw for accurate cuts?

Maintaining your table saw involves keeping it clean, ensuring the blade is sharp and properly aligned, and regularly checking the saw fence and miter gauge for accuracy. Proper maintenance helps achieve precise cuts and extends the life of your saw.

Can I get a good straight edge on boards of any thickness?

Yes, you can achieve a wooden straight edge on boards of virtually any thickness. However, the thickness of the board may require adjustments to ensure the saw blade is at the proper height. And the fence position is accurate too.

Always ensure the blade height is just above the thickness of the wood for safety and efficiency.

How do I ensure a straight edge on the ends of the board?

To ensure a straight edge on the end of a board, use a miter saw for precise cuts. Mark your cut line clearly, support the board well, and cut carefully. Check the edge with a square afterward to confirm its straight.

I hope you found this post to be helpful! As always, don’t hesitate to ask any questions you may have.

Let’s go beyond the design to build something beautiful together!

More Woodworking Tips:

How to Seal Pine Sap on Furniture

How to Use a Kreg Jig-A Beginner’s Guide

The Easiest Way to Figure Out an Angle

 

 

Read more posts like this one…

Modern Outdoor Chairs-Easy to Build and Affordable

Modern Outdoor Chairs-Easy to Build and Affordable

Modern outdoor chairs! These sturdy and heavy-duty chairs are great for a patio or deck! This is my spot! Where you'll find me all summer long. Hanging out in my modern outdoor chair. The most comfortable spot on my deck. Looking at starting some outdoor projects this...

Easy How to Build Your Own DIY Outdoor Sectional Sofa

Easy How to Build Your Own DIY Outdoor Sectional Sofa

Build your own DIY outdoor sectional sofa only using 2x4's. Design to Build's plans include easy to follow, step-by-step instructions. Perusing any furniture store, you'll find me not only eyeing the furniture, but feeling every nook and cranny of it. In my mind, I'm...