Even if you’ve got the best equipped workshop of all time full of high quality shaping and cutting tools, if you can’t mark and measure your wood properly your project will just look a mess. There are tons of great products out there that can make woodworking a breeze and make sure that your finish is a professional one.
Here is a quick guide to some of the basic woodworking measurement tools that you absolutely must have in your workshop and also a quick look at some of the more advanced tools that you could benefit from once you’re ready to move on to the next level.
A Steel Rule
A steel rule is an essential tool to keep in your toolbox. You need a 6 inch rule and a 12 inch one with either a satin or matte finish and preferably one that has etched instead of stamped marks for better readability and accuracy. You should look for a model which has increments doing down to at least 1/32.
If you get one like the Swanson Tool 12” corner square you will find that it is an even more valuable tool since you can also mark and check accurate 45 degree and 90 degree angles too.
A Folding Rule
If you need to measure longer dimensions, investing in a 6 inch folding rule is an ideal way to ensure reliable accuracy when compared to a retracting tape measure since there is no hook to get damaged or affect accuracy.
Choose a model such as the Apex Tool Group’s X46 6” wooden folding rule which features a convenient sliding extension allowing for precise measurements inside boxes and cases.
When setting up tools and marking out precise crosscuts, a 4 inch or 6 inch machinist square is the ideal solution.
One like the Grizzly H2993 machinist square is perfect for slipping into your pocket ready to reach for it whenever the need arises.
Sliding Bevel Gauge
When you need to duplicate or transfer an odd angle, a sliding bevel such as the Swanston TS149 can get the job done without any need to even know what the angle is.
While the combination square is the ideal solution for regular 45 and 90 degree angles, the sliding bevel will be your go—to whenever you have an unusual angle to copy.
Marking Knife or Mechanical Pencil
While it may sound obvious, you’re going to need something to mark out those measurements once you’ve actually measured them.
A marking knife can score a razor thin line to let you know where you need to cut while a mechanical pencil like the Pentel Graph Gear makes a thin mark that is consistent and reliable.
Upgrading To The Next Level
When you’re ready to go to the next level of woodworking, there are a few measuring and marking tools that you should consider adding to your toolkit.
4 Inch Double Square
If you imagine all of the best combination square features like measurement markings and easy adjustability and then add in all of the top features of machinist squares such as portability and precision, the 4 inch double square such as the one from Lee Valley is the ideal choice. Its blade slides conveniently through its body so you can gauge reveals on a cabinet door or set up router bits and saw blades without it being too cumbersome.
Adjustable 12 Inch Hook Rule
In the same way as the hook which you find on a retracting tape measure, the Lee Valley 12” hook rule has a similar hook while enables you to measure easily from overhanging edges. You can reposition the hook along the rule’s end so you can easily work with thinner materials or alternatively remove it when necessary. As there are 4 scales you can choose the right markings for your project depending on the need for accuracy in your project.
A stopblock is an essential when using a router table or table saw, and a ruler stop can play the same function when measuring and marking. The Garrett Wade universal ruler stop features a dovetail slot which can grip almost any steel rule that measures up to 1 3/16” in width.
Rather than pulling out a glue bottle, masking tape role or coin to trace around when you’re marking a radius instead use a Quick Corner transparent template.
These are super useful in marking a precise radius every time, fixing easily to any square corner. There are also templates in the set for chamfered corners, convex radii and concave radii for extra convenience and versatility.
Universal Angle Guide
If you have to mark an angle that is known rather than a copied or matched one, a universal angle guide like the one from MasterGage is the ideal choice for precision and multi-functional needs. With a super-fine set of markings that have been laser-etched, this tool gives a very accurate reference for all angles up to 180 degrees in half inch increments. You can use this handy tool to set a sliding bevel or miter gauge, or to set the height of your saw blade or outer bit.
9 Inch Protractor Square
The Lee Valley 9” protractor square is an oversized bevel gauge which is the ideal progression from a pocket-sized version. If you need to transfer angles from any unusual shaped pieces to your miter saw or to a table saw miter gauge, the protractor square’s long blades provide sufficient bearing surface to guarantee a precise set up. As it has a degree scale you can easily set a specific angle.
These tools, both basic and advanced are ideal additions to your workshop, so whether you are a novice DIY woodworker or whether you’re ready to move on to the next level, there are some useful tools in this list that will ensure that your projects are beautifully finished, perfectly marked and measured and have a professional look.
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