Gauging When Wood Width Must Equal Thickness

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Woodworkers often find themselves ripping lumber to a dimension where its thickness is consistent to its width. Common applications for this include table legs, turning blanks, posts, slats, etc. Often times the first step is to plane the stock to the desired thickness, then take it to the table saw to cut the wood width. It might be tempting to use traditional means measure the thickness, or to use a reading from the planer itself to determine where to set your table saw fence to the wood width, but this can lead to inaccuracies simply due to the difference in scales of your various machines.
Good table saw technique includes proper handling and safe feeding of stock, but also a sense of finesse when setting up for a given cut.

Measure the thing with the thing

When the wood width needs to match the wood thickness, why not use the wood itself to calibrate the table saw? The idea here is straightforward. If you mainly care about consistent thickness and wood width, then you can use the wood itself to calibrate the saw fence.

More important to be consistent than precise

When sizing table legs and similar components in a project, it’s critical that you have the thickness and wood width be consistent on each leg, and that all of the legs be consistent. It is slightly less important that the legs be sized to within 1/128” of the stated size in your plan. You want to remain reasonable true to the proportions of your design, but keep in mind that we are building wood projects and not transplanting livers here.

There’s a bit of finesse required

When using wood to set up your fence, be sure to not set it too tightly. Go for a “Goldilocks fit”; just right!