Accurate measuring is very important in our work. Doing the measuring too fast just to get it over with is certain to result in defects in your woodwork later on. Measuring in that manner, together with sawing, is just a waste of time. It makes you angry, too, having to buy new timber if you have cut your piece too short.
If you attach several pieces together, consider the width of the material when marking so as to get the correct size in the end.
Before doing the marking, check the timber once again. Try to mark the places for cutting in a way making sure the defective parts are removed. If there is no way to do this, try to place the imperfections in the rear on inner parts of the piece. Nice knots or patterns, on the other hand, should be placed in the front parts. That way they could become decorations on the object.
When doing woodwork, you measure in millimetres.
Choose soft pencils for marking, at least of HB softness. By using hard pencils you surely make scratches in the wood. That is a problem if you mark in the wrong places. If you put a marking in the wrong place, cross it out with a wavy line. Mark the parts to be cut out and removed by an X.

Crossing out a wrong marking

(Crossing out a wrong marking)

Marking a piece to be removed

(Marking a piece to be removed)

As regards the ruler, you can use a plastic ruler the kind you use at school and a simple self-retracting tape measure. Try to always use the same ones for your work as there may be differences between the individual items or makes. Measuring instruments of various accuracy classes are categorised in classes denoted by percentage, which refers to the upper measuring limit of the instruments concerned. The most common accuracy classes available are between 1 and 5%. In our case, let us see a 1m measuring instrument of 1% accuracy. 1m equals 100cm and 1% of 100cm is 1cm, which equals 10mm. Thus along a 1 m section you can have a difference of plus/minus 10mm. In the case of a 20 cm ruler of 5% accuracy you get 200mm plus/minus 1mm. So the difference may be between 0 and 2mm. This does not make the measuring instrument concerned a defective one. The above examples are certainly theoretical calculations for extreme values. In any case it is a hassle having to remove 1mm just because you were negligent with your measuring instruments.

Two rulers with differences

(Two rulers with differences)

A right angle tool should be used for marking 90º. Once again, the right angle ruler used at school is good enough for our purposes. When marking, always place your work piece as well as the ruler against a supporting surface. Use a try square for the easiest measuring. Lean the strip against the stock and use the blade for measuring.

Marking a right angle with a ruler

(Marking a right angle with a ruler)

Try squares

(Try squares)

Marking with a try square

(Marking with a try square)


45º markers are also important. This angle is used when we make an object with a right angle by what you call a mitre cut. The objects this technique is typically used for are picture frames.

Marking 45° with a ruler

(Marking 45° with a ruler)

45° try square

(45° try square)

Check your square ruler or 45º marker before the first use if you are not sure of its accurateness, e.g. if you have dropped it. In the case of a right angle, it should be marked from a straight surface. Turn over your square ruler and mark once again at the exact place or very close to the previous marking. If the two markings coincide or are parallel, the right angle is accurate. Check straightness by looking into the edge of your piece of wood.

Checking straightness

(Checking straightness)

Checking a right angle in three steps
Checking a right angle in three steps
Checking a right angle in three steps

(Checking a right angle in three steps)


In the case of a 45º marker, find an accurate right angle that you have checked. Mark 45º from one side, then turn over the marker to the other side and mark 45º once again at the very same place of or very close to the previous marking. If the two markings coincide or are parallel, your marker is accurate.

Checking 45°in 3 steps
Checking 45°in 3 steps
Checking 45°in 3 steps

(Checking 45°in 3 steps)

For marking the same angles several times you can use an angle copier. It enables fast and accurate work. Set its blades to the right angle, fix them and start marking the same angles.

How to use the angle copier in 3 steps
How to use the angle copier in 3 steps
How to use the angle copier in 3 steps

(How to use the angle copier in 3 steps)

You may need various angles, too. Draw them on hard cardboard, cut them and, just like in the case of the rulers used as school, use a supportive surface when drawing them. Test the angles after the first cuts.
Marking gauges can be used for marking parallel lines. There is an adjustable pin (spur) on the gauge. First set the distance between the fence and the pin, then draw the fence along the edge of the wood. The pin then scratches the wood parallel to the edge.

Marking gauges

(Marking gauges)

The pin or spur of the marking gauge

(The pin or spur of the marking gauge)

How to use a marking gauge

(How to use a marking gauge)


Other useful tools for drawing circles, holes and winding shapes are French curves, templates and bow compasses.

French curves

(French curves)

Holes template

(Holes template)

Circle template

(Circle template)


[No Title]

[No Content]