Getting / Making Perfectly Square Stock

Hey all,

I am looking to make some 3D parts (action figure type things) out of hardwood. For example, taking a 1.5" x 1.5" turning blank and cutting it to say, 3" long with a hand saw before clamping vertically on the SO5.

I am noticing that the turning blank stock that I bought is not perfectly flat on … any side.

What is the protocol for making it square, such that I have “perfect stock” which I can reliably use to make a couple dozen items?

I am thinking take my 1.5" x 1.5" x 3" piece, clamp it in any orientation, flatten one side (using a fly bit or something big), then flatten the opposite side. Now I have two flats, and can reference off those and continue, until all sides are flat and square, and then I can actually begin machining.

Is there a place online I can buy stock (and again, not flat stock, but more “3D” stock") already perfectly dimensioned?


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I don’t think you would find the expense of perfectly trued stock palatable.

No need to use a large tool — a #201 will work fine.

A Flat Top Tiger Claw clamp:

(I still wish we’d called those “Hammerheads”)

can work well to secure such stock against a suitably vertical surface to get the requisite right angle.

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Thanks Will. I actually have those, and have been a bit disappointed in how short the slot is such that I have only been able to use them a handful of times because the stock is either too long or too short to span the distance between T-slots for those.

But regardless, did my approach (progressively square on all sides) make sense, and is that what you’re recommending I do?

Yes, your approach is the normal way to do this — the improvement would be to use a jointer, but that’s an expensive, dedicated piece of equipment.


Estate sales & bargain finder markets are a cheaper way of acquiring tools. It’s amazing how solid tools from 50-60 years ago were because they used a lot of cast metal parts.
Nowadays, the brands that had quality tools from back then are now in the ‘plastic cast’ category.

Not all of them — a few manufacturers who seem to be holding the line on quality and materials:

and there are some promising new names: (need to place an order w/ these folks) (note that they got bought out by Woodpeckers)

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The traditional way to square stock is to start with stock larger than you need. You joint one face and then an adjacent side to the two sides are square to each other. Usually with a jointer but you could do it with a hand plane. Then you use a tablesaw with the jointed edges against the fence and cut the opposite side parallel. Then turn the stock 90 degrees to the other jointed face against the fence and run it through the table saw with the same setting as the first side.

Sounds more complicated than it is. You can buy jointers on Amazon for $251.00 with a spiral cutter head. The spiral cutter head is becoming the default for most jointers now. That is a good thing because trying to remove, sharpen and then replace the knives on a traditional jointer is a challenge. With the spiral head you finally get the side 1 of 4 dull you just flit to position 2. When all 4 sides are used up which takes a long time you get new replacement cutters.

The Wen stuff is about the cheapest machinery out there but for its price is pretty good quality. You can certainly buy more expensive equipment but the bang for the buck is pretty good with Wen tools.

Every tool we use can be dangerous. If you get a jointer get some good push blocks and USE THEM. I have a few kickbacks using a jointer and it sent the piece about 30 feet. I was using a push block and kept me from getting injured. Your natural tendency when losing control is to push down. That can push you down to the knives and them become a meat grinder with your fingers/hands as the meat.

I really like these push blocks from They have a good grip and work well. I have had one of these for 10 years and it still works well. I have bought other push blocks that eventually wont grip and that can be as dangerous as not using a push block if it does not grip and move the stock forward.


I just watched this video and it explains what I wrote above.

Yeah, I discovered this technique when I needed perfectly square stock for some cabriolet table legs. 4 sided machining only works with perfect stock.