To make flat panels with no gaps, the edge joints on your boards need to be seamless.
Most people try to achieve this by triple-checking that their table saw blade or jointer fence are at exactly 90°.
But there’s an easier (and more reliable) way.
This genius trick gives you perfect edge joints every time — even if your tools aren’t perfectly set up…
So you can get boards that mate as flawlessly as star-crossed lovers.
I like to call it the Show Face Strategy.
THE SHOW FACE STRATEGY
The crux of this technique relies on the “show faces” of your boards — meaning the sides that’ll be most visible when your project is complete.
On a tabletop, that’s the top (unless you’ve had one too many during dinner).
By strategically orienting the show faces while jointing the edges, you achieve a flawless fit even if your table saw blade or jointer fence aren’t square.
Here’s how it works:
Lay out your boards side by side how you’ll glue them together for your tabletop (you can draw a big arrow point across them to line them up correctly later — like this >).
All the show faces should be facing up.
Now at each edge, label the mating boards either “IN” or “OUT” close to the edge. Add a little arrow to make it clear which edge needs to be cut.
Now you can joint the edges on your table saw or jointer. But pay attention here:
For edges labeled IN, make the cut with the show face away from you — either against the jointer fence or down on your table saw.
For edges labeled OUT, make the cut with the show face towards you — so you can see it while you cut on either the jointer or table saw.
Complete this process for all the boards, then lay them flat side by side in the correct order.
When you push the boards together, their edges will come together snugly with no gaps.
What’s amazing about this trick is that it compensates for any misalignments in your machinery.
Even if your table saw blade or jointer fence are WAY off 90°, the complementary angles of the edges will add up to 90°.
Because, you know… geometry.
Not only do I recommend giving the Show Face Strategy a try — I suggest you use it in every project involving panel glue-ups.
Want to learn more tricks for flat panel glue-ups? Read this.