Marking and Measuring

lumber crayon and mechanical pencil

Don’t Leave Home Without Essential Layout Tools

Whenever I leave town to teach a woodworking class, I make two stops to pick up a supply of two essential things for project layout. The first stop is the office supply store for a box of Bic .5mm mechanical pencils. Next stop is the “big box home center” for a dozen lumber crayons....


Find Center With a Combination Square

In this short video, executive editor Robert W. Lang demonstrates how to find the center of a board using a combination square, it’s easy, accurate and no numbers were harmed in the making of this video. – Robert Lang  

Precision Drilling Repetitive Hole Patterns

Years ago, when I was woodworking as a full-time occupation, I remember a couple jobs in particular that required me to set up a drill press to drill a sequence of holes where accuracy was a must. One job was producing prototype cabinets for JBL, the company that makes speakers. The cabinets were intended...


My Favorite Tool from the H.O. Studley Tool Chest

Making woodworking tools doesn’t interest me as much as making furniture, but my recent encounter with Henry O. Studley’s tool chest has me eyeing the metals section of the  McMaster-Carr web site. The tool that turned my head is small and simple, but boy do I have a crush on it. It’s a locking...


My Chisel Handles are Older Than Yours

Exotic woods don’t blow my skirt/kilt/skort up much. In small doses they can look beautiful, but for the most part I find them oily, difficult to work and far too wild looking for full-size furniture. I’ve always preferred hardwoods and softwoods from the Northern hemisphere. Quartersawn beech is exotic to me. Quartersawn sycamore is...

How to Sharpen a Marking Knife

Sharpening a spear-point marking knife isn’t difficult, but it sure seems to flummox some woodworkers. The bevels on the knife are small, and if you aren’t used to freehand sharpening, you might be afraid of rounding over the edge. Dave Jeske of Blue Spruce Toolworks was at the Wooden Boat Festival in Port Townsend,...


The English Layout Square: A Mystery and a Slideshow

Today I’m in Portland, Maine, eating myself sick at Duckfat and studying the architectural details on the old houses in this coastal city. As I started picking apart some Victorian houses on the city’s east side, I remembered something that a student once said about the English Layout Square I built for the December...