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 In Shop Blog, Techniques

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Last week Roy Underhill took me to the back room of his new school in Pittsboro, N.C.

“Is this the office?” I asked.

“No,” Roy said with a wicked grin. “This is where I keep the confiscated tape measures.”

It might surprise some modern-day woodworkers that the spring-loaded tape measure wasn’t always the tool of choice for laying out one’s work. Instead, the preferred layout tool for woodworkers for many generations was the folding rule: a brass-bound boxwood device that would unfold to 24″ , though other lengths were available.

And that’s why Underhill bans tape measures from The Woodwright’s School.

The invention of the modern tape measure is sometimes credited to Alvin J. Fellows of New Haven, Conn.,


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