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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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...

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Make a Sector From a Crappy Folding Rule

As Jim Tolpin’s article on sectors from the June 2011 issue is getting into the hands of readers, we have had a few questions about the tool. One question is, of course: “Where can I buy one?” I don’t recommend you try to purchase a real sector. They are small affairs that were intended...

Video: Jim Tolpin’s ‘Secret of the Sector’

In the June 2011 issue we have Jim Tolpin building the “Ultimate Router Table.” Nah, just yanking your chain. He’s actually building a wombat house. Ha. Got you. In truth, Tolpin wrote a great article about how to build and use a “sector.” What’s a sector? It is like magic wands that have been...

Video: Mitered Shoulder Dovetail

When building the Monticello Bookcases for the June 2011 issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine, I used through-dovetails with a mitered shoulder to join the cases. This joint gives a nice finished look to the front edge of the boxes, yet it is easier to do than some other similar joints, including the secret mitered...

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Video: Level the Feet of a Chair or Sawbench

Getting the four feet of a sawbench, chair or stool all in the same plane is a challenge for some woodworkers. You can end up nibbling a bar stool into an ottoman if you take the wrong approach. I’m sure there is some way to do this with the power of math, triangles and...

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Squaring the English Layout Square

Several readers have asked how to go about squaring up the two legs of the English Layout Square from the December 2010 issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine. Do you square it up before assembly? After? What tools do you use to make it square? How do I determine if the square is indeed square?...

Trust Yourself. Trust No One

Between meetings, classes and regular living, I’ve cut 132 dovetails during the last couple weeks to build my next project, which will be featured on the cover of the June 2011 issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine. Many of these dovetails have been mitered at their front corners, which I cut freehand (thank you Joseph...

Free Plan: English Layout Square

I’m fond of wooden layout tools – squares, straightedges, winding sticks and the like. They are lightweight, don’t damage your work like metal tools can and are made from scraps. Plus, you can make them to suit your taste, whether that’s plain, fancy or something between. Last fall I built a couple of these...

Details: Installing Hinges in Mortises

Installing traditional mortise hinges makes some woodworkers want to turn their electric drill on themselves to just end it all. While practice is the best teacher, there are little tricks that can help when installing hardware. I have a bunch of “dodges” that people have taught me through the years. This one is ridiculously...