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Thread: Measuring supplies

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Floydada, Tx

    Measuring supplies

    Being new to this sport (hobby), I am always looking for ways to improve. My question this time is, what would you consider the basics needed for measuring and marking? The reason for asking is that this is where errors can compound quickly. There are hundreds of gadgets out their, that claim to make it quicker and simpler. Therefore, before wasting my limited funds on useless items I would like to know which items you use. Thanks in advance for your help.

    Al Killian


    My tatse in woodworking is towards larder items like tables, desk, display cases. So far Ihave only built a cabinet to hold our dvd collection and a display case for the wife. I have noticed that my measureing is not as accurate as it should be. Currently I use a speed square and a cheap 15' tape measure which the end has about 1/16 play in it. Hope this helps with your decisions.
    Last edited by Al killian; 12-08-2006 at 02:38 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Placitas, NM in the foothills of the Sandia Mt
    Oooh! This one's going to be a doozy - talk about a hot button...

    Well, here's my two cents worth...

    1)A good 6 inch ruler. I like one that has four scales (1/8, 1/16, 1/32, and 1/64).

    2)A good small (3 or 4 inches) square. Get a board with a dead straight edge, use the square to draw a line with the best sharpest pencil you have. Flip the square over and draw another line on top of the first. If the two lines diverge at all, take it back and repeat as necessary until you have a good one. If you drop the square, repeat the test again.

    3)A twelve foot tape measure. Fast cap is my favorite.

    4)A 0.5 mechanical pencil.

    (items 1-4 should stay in your apron. be sure to always use the same rule and the same tape measure throughout your project)

    5)If you are going to do mortises, a 6 inch incra rule, with 1/64 gradations. Use with #3 above.

    6)A good marking gauge, some like the ones with a scratch point, others like the rollers. At woodcraft, they will probably let you try them out. Pick the one that feels right to you.

    7)A set of calipers, for measuring thickness and depth of holes. Get one that can be reset to zero easily - you will drop it. One marked in common fractions is easier to read.

    8)If your eyesight is like mine, a good magnifier to read items 1-6.

    Just to stir the pot, I would never put a laser on any tool and digital stuff is just silly IMHO.

    Eventually, you may need something to measure angles, radiuses, etc, but I've vented enough!

    Thanks for asking!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    al, it depends on what you`re building......for starters a very usefull lay out tool is a starrett combination square with a protractor and centering head. a good ol` stanley tape measure is good too....i find trammell points indespensible for many operations i do but they may not be as usefull for you? a dial caliper is good for checking machines...a framing square and speed square as well as a bevel guage are inexpensive.....a marking knife is fun to make so if you`re going to buy one get an exacto untill you build you own.....more information will get you better answers .....tod
    [SIZE="1"] associated with several importers and manufacturers.[/SIZE]

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    I use my 12" Starrett Combination Square a lot. I'm not really happy with any of the tape measures I have but you need a good one of those. Those mechanical pencils, get a dozen & keep them all over the place. Alan Turner got me "hooked" onto a hook rule. I have a 6" one that I use a lot to measure board widths. A caliper is good for more precise measurements.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    ABQ NM
    Good question, Al, and likely to generate a lot of different answers.

    For the stuff I tend to build, I probably use my 6" Incra t-square rule more than any other measuring device, with the Stanley tape a close second, but only for rough (+/- 1/16") measurement. My combo squares get quite a bit of work, too. I've got a my granddad's old Starrett with the protractor head (and the 45 degree center-finding head), but for regular 90° and 45° marking I'll use my no-name, but accurate, combo square. For checking 90° and 45° machinery set-ups, I use the plastic drafting triangles I used in high school. I also have a cheapie digital caliper that's been very handy for lots of things.

    Most of the things I build don't need to be an exact final dimension, so more often than not, instead of a tape or ruler, I'll use other parts of the piece as references for a cut. Sort of a story stick that gets built into the finished piece.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Central CA
    Al, that "Play" in the end of your tape measure is SUPPOSED to be there. When you hook the tape on something you get the measurement from the inside of the hook. When you measure something by butting the end of the tape against an edge, the play in the tape allows for the thickness of the hook. All stiff metal tapes are made this way.

    I own the Woodpecker 12" and 18" precision squares. They are kinda like big speed squares but they are guarenteed accurate and square. When I put my Swanson Speed square (the Original speed square) against my Woodpecker square it was perfectly accurate. When I put my other two speed squares against it they were off by a little bit. For carpentry they would be okay but for woodworking they wouldn't be acceptable (for me anyway).

    My tape measures are Stanleys. I take VERY good care of my woodworking tapes and don't use my framing tapes for WWing.

    Thanks, Mark.

    Custom Bonehead.

    My diet is working good. I'm down to needing just one chair now.

    "Just think how stupid the average person is, and then realize that half of them are even stupider!" --George Carlin

  7. #7
    A pencil sharpener. This may seem very simple but a dull and unpredictable pencil really contributes to inaccuracy.You are also wise to develop a system of marking so you know routinely what the mark means and were to cut

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    somewhere east of Queen Creek, AZ - South East of Phoenix
    When laying out a piece to cut, I don't use the hooked end of a tape measure but use the tic mark at 1 inch to start my measurement, then I just add an inch to the final demension.. Thus the the movable hook at the end of the tape out of the equasion.

    I also use the plastic squares,45 frommy hs drafting for accurate agles.

    there are several good cobination squares avaible, my goto is a starrett and I keep a 6" machinest rule handy. Lately I have found that usimg some fint point ball point pens handy gives me more consistant marks then a pencil and if I need a real accarate mark I use a knife to scribe a mark.
    "There’s a lot of work being done today that doesn’t have any soul in it. The technique may be the utmost perfection, yet it is lifeless. It doesn’t have a soul. I hope my furniture has a soul to it." - Sam Maloof
    The Pessimist complains about the wind; The Optimist expects it to change;The Realist adjusts the sails.~ William Arthur Ward

  9. #9
    I would have to recommend the Stanley 25 foot tape measure as it is certified. I would also recommend you buy a few Machinist Squares. These guys are made of solid steel and milled out. A few sizes are nice for setting up machines and doing layout work.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Toronto, Ontario, CANADA
    Al, This is a very good question because measuring and marking accurately is the key to most successful projects.

    The work that I do covers the full range from small toy making to building construction and the measuring tools that I use reflect that. Below is a list, but before the list a couple of points:
    • I have metric equivalents of almost all these tools but will not include them in the list.
    • The majority of my measuring tools come from Lee Valley and, for those, I have put the catalogue number in brackets after the item.
    -Carpenter's Square (LV 60N48.01)
    -Rafter Layout Square –Stanley
    -3 inch Steel Engineer’s Square (LV 24N07.03)
    -4 inch Steel Engineer’s Square (LV 24N07.04)
    -6 inch Folding Square -45, 90, 135 degrees -Nobex Quatro 200 (LV 01N02.01)
    -12 inch Folding Square -45, 90, 135 degrees -Nobex Quatro 400 (LV 01N02.03)
    -16 inch Steel Ruler –no name
    -Ruler Stop for the 16 ruler –Veritas (LV 05N68.01)
    -40 inch Steel Ruler -no name
    -25 foot measuring tape –Stanley Fat Max
    -100 foot measuring tape –no name
    -10 inch Sliding bevel –Veritas (LV 05N44.01)
    -Bevel Setter -Veritas (LV 05N66.01)
    -Protractor –no name
    -Compass –no name
    -Blind Man Digital Calipers -Veritas (LV 88N62.57)
    -Marking Gauge –brass, 3 in 1 (LV 05N65.01)
    -Striking Knife - Veritas (LV 05U07.10)
    -several sharp pencils
    -Set-up Blocks – Veritas (LV 05N58.10)

    There are other associated tools such as levels, winding sticks, straight edges, and shims that I have not included in the list.
    Last edited by Frank Pellow; 12-08-2006 at 11:34 AM.
    Cheers, Frank

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