Marking and Measuring

Proper layout is fundamental to crisp work, whether you use primarily hand tools or power tools. We show you proper measurement techniques from how to read a tape measure to how to use a marking gauge. And, we cover the entire range of measuring and marking tools, from winding sticks to micrometers, carpenter’s pencils to marking knives. Plus, you’ll find videos and slideshows about historic tools (including those from H.O. Studley’s iconic chest) and plans for shop-made squares, gauges and sectors.

Build a Wierix Square, Step 1

A customer asked me to make a Wierix try square for him this week, and because it’s silly to make just one wooden square, I’m making a batch of five this week and am documenting the process here on the blog. If you don’t know what a Wierix square is, it’s an old style...

Free Plans: Ancient Squares for Ancient Scraps

I don’t turn pens much, and the word “fireplace” is a dirty word in our house (thanks to an incident involving a flaming log and full nudity). So my scrap pile is always overflowing. I give away scraps for kindling to my neighbors or I burn them in our outside firepit, but that is...

Another Engine

I have lost track of the number of wooden try squares I’ve built in the last five years. At this time last year I had the parts for about 20 mahogany squares in my shop. Now I’m down to one (the rattiest one I couldn’t sell) and some special parts for squares that I...

The Anarchist’s Gift Guide, Day 7

The last two items on my list are for woodworkers who have been very good this year. They are a bit more expensive than the other items on my list, but they are excellent tools. Of those last two items, the first is the Saddle-Tail from Sterling Tool Works, a one-man toolmaking company in...

Clamp a Square so it’s Square

During the last several years I’ve built about 50 wooden try squares for customers, friends and during classes. The most challenging part of the project is clamping the blade and the stock together so they are square. I have tried three or four clamping strategies – some of them too involved to discuss here....

Straightedge Theory: Full of Holes?

When it comes to making wooden shop tools, I think that most of the modifications we make to them are to stop us from throwing the tools away by accident. Many winding sticks are a right triangle in profile. Why? Mostly (I think) to prevent you from pitching them out with the garbage. Yes,...

Test Drive: Carbide Marking Knife from Czeck Edge

If you don’t like (or cannot) sharpening a marking knife, the new Czeck Edge “Super Kadet II” knife is likely the right choice for your tool chest. Based on the well-balanced and well-made “Kerf Kadet” knife, this version is like its older brothers with the addition of a tungsten carbide blade. Why a carbide...

Inside Colen Clenton’s Adjustable Try Squares

I first heard about Colen Clenton’s tools from Joel Moskowitz of Tools for Working Wood in Brooklyn, N.Y. On Joel’s recommendation, I purchased one of Colen’s squares and was deeply impressed by its craftsmanship and accuracy. I asked Joel how I could e-mail Colen and ask him a few questions about his tools for...

TS-2: Perfection Made Rare

Years ago I worked with a professional woodworker who built all his own tools, used the least-expensive machines available and turned out work that was undeniably world class. He scoffed at buying clamps (he made his own). He invented precision tools when he needed them. And he could make inlay tools from shop garbage....