Carpentry Tools – Measuring and Marking Tools
Tools for Carpentry
In this section, you will find a defined list of the tools you’d probably use in carpentry or woodworking — either to complete or build projects and make renovations of your own design and style. Don’t be put off by the number of tools listed — they’re not all needed, though every one could be used if desired.
If you’re a newcomer to woodworking, take your time and study the whole section closely, not only for safety’s sake, but to understand what each tool is capable of doing. It’s not difficult to make a considerable investment in tools, and while you certainly may not need every one on the list, you’ll have to start with a basic collection of “old standards” to get the job done.
Those familiar with the working of wood will probably recognize that some of the tools listed are there to make the job go more quickly and with less effort. For a professional, a brisk pace might be the key to success, but a hobby woodworker should have the luxury of enjoying the work and the freedom to experiment with the wood and the tools alike. However, while hand tools are great to learn on, power tools take less out of you and are highly accurate besides.
Whether you’re a novice or an expert, remember that you’re the one who establishes a tool’s real value. The best tools don’t always make the best woodworker — if used poorly, even expensive items can be near useless. When buying new tools, invest in the best ones you can afford. But keep in mind that a woodworker with even a bit of experience under the belt can work miracles with modest tools.
Measuring and Marking Tools
Measuring and marking are essential to carpentry. No other part of the construction process has as much influence on the finished product as does the laying out of lengths, joints, and angles. Correctly marked and measured dimensions are critical, so don’t deny the importance.
Measuring tools establish length, width, and depth. They’re useful at the lumberyard to check stock dimensions, and they’re absolutely necessary when you’re building a woodworking project.
Marking tools are helpful in locating the lines, points, curves, and angles where you intend to cut, rout.
Steel Tape Measure
Steel tapes are long flexible rulers that roll up into a compact case. They’re made in widths between 1/4″ and P and in lengths from 6′ to 25′ or more. The tape end has a hook that secures to one end of the work; this should be loosely mounted to compensate for the width of the hook in both inside and outside measurements.
Graduations are noted in 1/16″ increments (except for the first 12″, which are marked in 1/32″ increments). For most, a 3/4″-wide, 16′-long, self-retracting rule with a tape-lock button is the best choice.
A straightedge — called a steel rule when marked with graduations — is very convenient for drawing straight lines. It’s a steel or aluminum ruler, 12″ to 36″ long, which can be used for fine measuring and marking when graduated clearly.
The adjustable combination square is a 4-1/2″ x 12″ tool with a sliding blade, and a 45-degree shoulder built right into the stock. The blade can be locked at any point and its end used as a marking point for a scribe or sharp pencil.
This small square is used to check, or “try,” right angles; a ruler along the edge of its blade can be used to take quick measurements. The blades usually come in 6″ to 12″ lengths.
A framing square is shaped like a large right angle and is used to check for 90-degree accuracy on a large scale. Its two edges are 16″ x 24″ long and are marked with ruler graduations in 1/8″ and 1/16′ increments. The framing square is used mainly in construction carpentry.
A scratch awl is a hard steel point several inches in length, with a comfortable rounded handle. Its intended use is to mark a starting point for a drill bit, but sharpened awls are often used to score a line for marking or cutting. Another tool, the scribe, is a finer version of the instrument in a slightly different form.
A marking gauge is used to scribe a line at a point in relation to an edge. Itsstock holds a graduated inch-scale beam which slides through its center. The beam is locked in position with a thumbscrew, and a steel spur at the end marks the wood when the gauge is pushed along the work.
A compass has a pivot at the top and two legs, one with a pointed end and one with a pencil tip. This tool is used to scribe and transfer radius arcs, circles, and patterns during the layout process.
A woodworker’s protractor is a simple tool used to determine angles. It has a head with a flat base, upon which a pivoting blade is attached. The blade is aligned with the angle, which is then indicated in degrees on a graduated scale etched into the head.
The vernier caliper is a refined thickness gauge used to measure the thickness of a piece of wood up to 5″, in sixteenths of an inch and in millimeters. A slide bar gives a linear readout and also may include an end rod for depth measurement. An extra set of calipers allows for measuring inside dimensions.
A level is used to establish whether a framing member is level (if it’s horizontal), or plumb (if it’s vertical). It uses a bubble captured within a small tube of liquid to determine the degree off of “center” the object in question may be. A long, thin frame of aluminum or wood houses three bubble vials, two at the end positioned to read for plumb, and one in the center set to read for level. For accurate work, a level at least 24″ in length is needed.
This tool is simply an 8-ounce weight with a sharp point connected to a nylon line. When suspended from an overhead point, it’s used to transfer that point’s position to the ground or a framing member below.