Here's the conundrum: I have 5 3.6 meter boards I'm trying to make a long worktop bench out of and I want to glue them up side by side. This is rough construction grade spruce with loads of knots.

The tools I have to hand are:

  • a cheap wood router with a set of bits
  • a small hand held belt sander
  • a no.5 jack plane
  • a smoothing plane

I've been trying for weeks to joint the edges so they will but up perfectly against one another and I'm failing miserably. I end up chasing my tail all the time...

I've tried putting them side by side and planing them together but that didn't work because of course they're not straight along the length of them so the valleys and hills just exacerbated the problem.

I've watched loads of how to square stock with hand tools but all require a jointer plane. My worry is if I buy a jointer plane it still will not end up straight along since these boards are just so long...

I loath to chop them in half but I'm seriously considering it at this point.

  • This has probably been mentioned here before but you can successfully joint even very long edges using a no. 4 if you do it right (even a block plane if you had no choice). All edges longer than a plane can be made straight, that's in the nature of all planing work. The chasing your tail thing that you report is a common problem (even happens with a jointer plane) and it's merely a sign of not working slowly and fastidiously enough. But for now, one of the options presented in the previous thread should work for you.
    – Graphus
    Jan 19 '19 at 19:37
  • 1
    do you have any sort of reference edge or surface for flat/straight? If you don't have anything at hand, you can use an old technique for achieving straight reference edges... see here as an example: woodsmith.com/files/issues/183/creating-a-straightedge.pdf
    – aaron
    Jan 21 '19 at 12:54

The question is, just exactly what is included in your "router with a set of bits". If you have a bit which is longer than your boards are thick, you can use this to do the job.

Start by getting a guide board which is longer than your bench boards. It should be as straight as possible, but don't worry about small deviations. Using a couple of clamps, tie it to one board, far enough away from the edge that your router can run along the board and shave off a small amount the entire length of the cut. Do this with the second board approximately parallel to the first, but with a gap between the two large enough that the bit will only contact the first board. This will provide good support for both sides of the router base.

Now, clamp the second board in place with a gap between the two boards just a hair less than the diameter of the bit. Now run the router back the other way and clean up the second board edge.

The two boards will now be perfectly matched. Even if the new edges are not perfectly straight (that will depend on the straightness of your guide board), the two faces will align exactly. Even if the router tilted slightly during the cuts, the two faces should align. Go ahead and glue.

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