Useful Tools for Decorating

A useful additional tool which many people may want to regard as an early acquisition is the spirit level. This enables you to true up work and to make accurate fixings. A metal level is very durable and can also be used as a straight edge.

Using tools :


Always mark the best-looking side of a piece of timber with a looped letter T and the best edge with a small ‘x’. These are carpenter’s marks to show which side and edge will be exposed. These surfaces are known as the ‘face side’ and the ‘face edge’.

Marking gauge

Hold the workpiece with three fingers and the gauge with one finger and thumb so that the stock is against the face edge of the work. Drag and not push the pin as this provides a firm, clean line for planing. Continue the line right round the work, always marking from the face edge.

To set the gauge, adjust the cross-piece with a rule to the required distance from the spike. Slide the tool up to the edge of the piece of timber to be marked.

The crosspiece maintains the spike at a constant distance from the edge, while the spike scribes a straight line.

Always work against the grain. This prevents grain from leading the point of the gauge into a non-waste section of the wood. Always mark away from the poorer edge of the timber.

When using the gauge to mark the thickness of joints, set it to half the timber thickness, minus a fraction of around 0.4mm, and gauge the setting. This should be tested by marking from both sides of the wood, which should leave just a tiny 0.8mm gap in the middle.

Marking knife

This scores more accurately than a pencil. By severing the fibres on the surface of the wood it helps to ensure a clean cut with saw or chisel. A knife with a replaceable blade will serve both as a marking knife and can be used for other jobs. The blade must remain sharp; otherwise it can slip and deface the work or provide an impositive working line. A knife with a replaceable blade ensures that you always have a sharp marking edge.


Hold the stock of the try-square firmly on the face edge of the work with three fingers and the thumb. This forms a clamp and ensures that the work is steadily held as you mark with knife or pencil.


Always saw on the waste side of the timber. As you near the end of the cut, support the timber so that it does not break off and splinter at the ends.

Panel saw

Steady the work by using three fingers and the thumb as a clamp on the saw handle. The feet should be comfortable and apart, in a boxer-like stance, and the body generally relaxed. Also, the body should not obstruct the work, as this may throw the saw offline. The arm should be free to move with a piston action, not catching the body in any way.

Start sawing at the front of the work, using the thumb as a guide and make a small backward movement, of about 45° with the saw, first a I lowing the saw to drop on to the work across the marked cut line.

The blade should be kept vertical during sawing and the position should be such that the eye is able to sight down the cut line without contorting the body.

Maintain the saw blade vertically, gradually allowing this to drop until the handle end is on the guide line. Use an even, easy-flowing movement. Avoid short, jerky strokes which will cause the saw to move offline. Allow the saw to cut with its own weight and avoid great extra pressure.

Tenon saw

Hold this with its teeth almost parallel with the work surface. Again, use your left thumb to guide the blade for your starting cut. Draw the saw backwards, two or three times. Use as much length of saw as possible for each stroke.

Maintain your line of vision over the saw to help you to keep the line straight. When you reach the bottom of the cut, use three or four extra strokes to make sure that you do not leave a protruding fringe of fibres.

The first rule of carpentry is ‘measure twice and cut once’. In using a folding rule or other measuring stick, the rule should be stood on edge on the piece of timber being marked so that the marking graduations on the rule are actually in contact with the timber. This will avoid a marking error, as the rule will be in contact with the timber at the points where you want to mark it.


Drive the hammer, with a short upward swing and a full follow through. To lessen the risk of hammer ‘bruises’ on the surface, keep the hammer parallel for the last few strokes.

Bench hooks

These are used to hold timber firm when using a tenon saw. The hook consists of a batten or lip at top and bottom of a base board, running about two thirds of the way across. When the hook is placed against the edge of a bench or working surface, the batten beneath prevents the hook from slipping.

The bench hook is simple to make. Materials required are a base board measuring about 300mm x 250mm x 25mm thick and two pieces of batten for the lips, 51mm x 25mm and 200mm long. These dimensions are not critical, but it is important to make sure that the timber is not warped in any way, or the hook will rock when used and make cutting difficult.

You will need six 31mm panel pins and some woodworking adhesive.

First, drive two pins just through a batten at each end and then spread woodworking adhesive on to the bottom of the batten. Align the batten accurately with the top edge of the base panel and nail the battens home. The other batten is fixed at the corresponding position on the left, below the board, so that the hook can be used either way up.

10. November 2011 by admin
Categories: Featured, Handyman Tips | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Useful Tools for Decorating


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