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In the October 2013 issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine, you’ll find my Woodworking Essentials article, “The Mighty Compass.” In the article I show a bunch of things you can do with a compass to create polygons and divide lines and angles. The following video shows some of the layout techniques from the article, in case you learn better by seeing than by reading.

I’ve also received a number of questions about the compass I used in the article. It’s available from Lee Valley at this link.

– Robert W. Lang

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Showing 7 comments
  • Shawn Nichols

    This is awesome. Is there a method for dividing a circle into x amount of segments? I’m specifically trying to do 10 for a current design but I was wondering if there is a method for equal spacing like what J. Pierce posted about dividing a LINE into equal segments.


  • Albert Rasch

    Great links J Pierce!
    I bumped into those some time ago when trying to figure out how to divide circle into innumerable bits and pieces. Lot’s of stuff that can be done with a set of dividers and a straightedge.

    Best regards,
    Albert A Rasch

  • J. Pierce

    Cool. I haven’t made it that far through the issue yet to see your article, Bob, but I’ll have to check it out today. I skimmed it a little bit just flipping the pages when the magazine came. I do have to say that I love this stuff.

    I have an overabundance of dividers, and in learning about them, I found this series of flash videos :

    Pretty useful when I was looking for stuff. Lots of cool tricks. I think learning to layout an ogee with dividers from Roy’s show was what started me on this trek. There’s lots more info online, as well – looking for “compass and staightedge constructions” pulls up a lot of neat info.

    I particularly liked the trick for dividing a line into any number of parts without measuring or constant stepping off and adjusting, which I don’t think I saw in your article, and has proven pretty useful to me a couple of times:

    Pretty quick if you have more than one divider so you don’t have to reset one over and over.

  • Jonathan Szczepanski

    Are you a wizard? I have a chip carving book that goes into some of these techniques, but I’m sure there are a ton. If there was a book that documented these, I’d be the first in line to buy it.

  • rusty old engine

    missing link? HA-ha!!

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