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.

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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...

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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...

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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,...

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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...

Video Preview: Superior Works Sliding Bevel

Tool seller Patrick Leach has a new sliding bevel in the works that does something that no other modern bevel does: It locks at a perfect 90°. Yup. Sliding bevels are great at describing almost every angle except 90°, which is why we have try squares. With this new sliding bevel, some woodworkers might...

New Veritas Dual Marking Gauge

New: Veritas Dual Marking Gauge

If you remember the Veritas Dodeca-Gauge – the company’s hilarious April Fool’s prank that featured a marking gauge with 12 independent sliding rods – then the company’s newest tool might look a little familiar to you. The Veritas Dual Marking Gauge offers only one-sixth of the rods of the fictional Dodeca-Gauge, but the good...

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This One Goes to 13

Jim Tolpin’s article “Secrets of the Sector” in the June 2011 issue has stirred up a lot of interest and discussion among our readers. A sector is a way to eliminate arithmetic, especially division (multiplication’s tricky friend). To help readers understand the sector, I made a couple short videos: Video: Jim Tolpin’s ‘Secret of...