How To Prepare Wood For Woodworking Projects?

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Getting excellent result out of your woodworking projects highly depends on the quality and cut of the wood you are using. To ensure your woodworking project will go as smoothly as possible, you need to put some effort into it from the start. Having the knowledge and proper tools in preparing your lumber will make the later tasks in your woodworking project much easier. Therefore, when you are preparing your wood, you need to stay vigilant and concentrated.

If you have no idea of how to prepare wood—your project can be delayed, asymmetrical, or a complete failure. To make sure that does not happen, you need to know the basic tools, skills, and steps to prepare your wood. So, what are the basic tools, steps, and skills that will help you in preparing wood for woodworking projects? Keep reading to learn each aspect of preparing lumber.

prepare wood for woodworking

Important tools to prepare wood

Here’s a list of important tools that are needed to prepare the wood. Before you start prepping your wood, make sure you have the following tools with you:

  • Miter saw
  • Jointer
  • Planer
  • Table saw
  • Hand sanders
  • Tape measure

Basic woodworking skills to prepare wood

When you put your hands on a woodworking project, you do not need to be a professional woodworker. However, having the following basic woodworking skills will allow you to continue the rest of your project with ease and confidence that your project will be a success.

How to use saws

It is important that you are skilled enough to use different types of cutters and saws such as a miter saw, table saw, or circular saw to get perfect angled cuts.

How to use a hand plane

Using a planer requires some skills; you must know where and how to place the wood to plane it in the best way.

How to use a jointer

Using a jointer is an efficient and precise process, yet not an easy one. A jointer helps in flattening the edges and sides of the wood. Therefore, you must know the basics of using a jointer to get the most out of it.

If you are not aware of how to use these basic tools, go through some online tutorials or a rough practice before you start working on your project.

Steps for preparing the wood

Now, with the woodworking tools and skills mentioned above, you need to follow the steps below to prepare the wood:

How To Prepare Wood For Woodworking Projects

1. Cut the lumber to size

As the wood you have is usually a rough piece of lumber—it might have knocks and checks. Also, it can be thicker and coarse. You can smoothen and clean the surface of the wood as desired in your woodworking project.

When you are done with cleaning the wood, start cutting the wood. Start with 1-inch cutting from all the sides first. Mark the area you want to cut. Mark another 1-inch boundary to that area. Slowly, you can cut up to that outer boundary. This helps in keeping the wood to accurate size even after it is passed through saws and jointers.

2. Flatten the best side of the wood

Now you have these two sides of the wood. Choose the one that is better and smoother. Flatten it by passing it through the jointer. You might need to give it several passes through the jointer to get it flat and even. When you get the desired level, mark an ‘X’ or anything that serves as a pointer to the best side of the wood.

3. Flatten the best edge of the wood

After getting the best side flattened, choose the best edge. Repeat the same process. Pass it through the jointer to get the edge flattened. Several other tools and techniques can be used to flatten the edge. The most common are using sandpaper, planer, or a jointer. However, sandpaper can be time-consuming. Using a jointer and planer can make the process efficient yet give you accurately evened edge.

4. Flatten the other side of the wood

Now get on to the other side of the wood. If you do not want to run it through the jointer, a planer can be used. In fact, a planer can be more efficient in dealing with the other side of the wood. A planer is known to shape the other side as its opposite one. As the opposite one is already flat and even, a planer will do the same to this side as well.

5. Cut the other edge with a table saw and run it over the jointer

To cut the other edge perfectly, mark it first. When done, you are ready to place it under a table saw. However, leave a little extra space for later joints and flattening.

After passing it through the table saw, you need to run it over the jointer to ensure that it is even and smooth. Also, it will eliminate all the saw marks. After passing it through the jointer, you have a flat piece of wood with even sides and edges.

6. Start cutting the wood from the best end

As your piece of wood is smooth and free of marks, start cutting it from the minimal. Start with ¼ inch and increase gradually. When done with the sides, you can use a miter saw, or a table saw for angled cuts. The cuts must be at 90 degrees angle.

7. Cut the other end to final length

The last step is to cut the other end to the final length. You can use a table saw to get finalized length. Leave a little space for further smoothing after you have made all the cuts. Now sand your wood, and you are ready to start the next task of your project.


Following these steps will ensure you are on your way to a successful woodworking project. Whether you are a beginner or a professional, it is essential to keep this important process in mind. Properly preparing wood gives you greater control over your project and its outcome. We hope this tutorial teaching you how to prepare wood for your woodworking project was useful and you’re able to create some amazing new projects! For more woodworking tutorials, check out Woodwork Made Easy.

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