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.

Winding Sticks with Better Visibility

Winding sticks don’t have to be fancy. Heck, they don’t even need to be anything other than two pieces of material that have parallel edges – that’s all you need to use these sticks to diagnose a twisted board or assembly. But I have a weakness for nice winding sticks, and they are a...

The Black Knife

In 19th-century English workshops you could be sacked (fired) for wearing eyeglasses. There are even accounts of how a shop might have a certain phrase that was spoken when the master was about to walk through the workroom. When that phrase was uttered, all the eyeglasses would go into hiding. I would have been...

New Episodes from ‘The Woodwright’s Shop’

The shows from the latest season of Roy Underhill’s “The Woodwright’s Shop” can now be viewed online for free through this link. What, you are still here and reading my crap? Click the link and get over there and watch all 13 episodes. That’s more than six hours of Roy, with less than an...

My New 150-year-old Try Square

While deep into dovetailing a small chest at the Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking this summer, my concentration was suddenly burst by someone at my workbench. “There’s a guy outside,” the student says, “and he’s selling all his woodworking stuff.” I nodded and then returned to my dovetails. I run into people all the...

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...