Since even the best measuring tools are relatively inexpensive, most
woodworkers acquire a variety of rules and tape measure to meet different need.
However, it is advisable to use the same rule or measuring tool throughout the
project, just in case there is any variation between one tool and another.
Purchase both rules and tape measures with standard and metric graduations –
but take care not to confuse one system with the other once you have begun to
mark out a work piece. You can measure one piece of wood accurately and then
use it as a template for the other pieces if more than one of the same size is
needed, this will save you time in the marking and measuring department.
1. Tape measure – retractable steel tapes, measuring from 6 to 16 ft (2 to
5m) long, are usually graduated along both edges. A lock button prevents
the tape from retracting automatically. Some tape measures incorporate a
liquid-crystal display that tells you how far the tape had been pulled from
its case; a built-in memory retains the measurements when the tape is
retracted. Self-adhesive steel tapes are sold without cases fro sticking
along the front edge of a workbench.
2. Four-fold rule – The folding carpenter’s rule made from boxwood with
brass hinges and end capes is still popular among traditional artist. Most
folding rules are 3ft (1m) in length fully extended. Because it is relatively
thick, you have to stand a wooden rule on edge in order to transfer
measurements accurately to the work. Similar rules made from plastic are
sometimes made with beveled edges to overcome this problem.
3. Straightedge – every workshop needs at least one sturdy metal
straightedge, measuring between 1ft 8in (500mm) and 6ft 6in (2m) long. A
beveled straightedge is ideal for making accurate cuts with a marking knife
and for checking that a planed surface is perfectly flat. Some
straightedges are etched with standard metric and/or graduations.