Episode #3: Layout Tools

Whenever hand tools are discussed, handsaws, planes and chisels take center stage. However, without the layout tools, none of these tools would be able to do their jobs accurately. Still the layout tools just don’t get the attention they deserve so I’m dedicating Episode #3 just to them. I touch on what to look for when you’re shopping for them, how to check them for accuracy and how to use them properly.


 

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12 thoughts on “Episode #3: Layout Tools

  1. Another great episode. I especially like the tip of marking your reference faces. It seems so simple but I can’t think of a time when I have actually marked the reference faces and on retrospect that may understand why I am spending so much time tuning the joint after cutting the joinery. Thanks for another great episode.

    Shannon

  2. Yes, another great episode. I liked the tip about putting your marking knife in the previous line to register the square when transferring layout lines. I went up to the shop, in 95 degree heat, to try it out and it works for me. Thanks!

  3. A great episode and one where I learned how to true a wooden try-square and that was very interesting. As well how to create a proper set of angles based on a straight rule and a compass.

  4. I found your site from Shannon at the Renaissance Woodworker site. What great blog posts and a great podcast. I’ve already added this to my feed reading list. I guess until you add your podcast to iTunes, I’ll just have to keep checking once in a while. I’ve enjoyed your posts as I’m moving towards a more hand tool focused shop (though I expect I’ll keep some power tools around).

  5. I was just wondering if your marking knife digs into your wooden try square when marking say a tenon cheek. I use a spear point Veritas marking knife and I find when marking dovetail pins off of my tails that I have to be very careful to register the flat back of the knife vertically against the tails or I’ll dig into the tails a bit. I’d think that this would be a strong argument against using wooden squares though I haven’t used one myself.

    • Jason,
      The knife certainly can cut the square and I have done so on occasion, especially with my smaller 6″ square which is made from softer mahogany. I attempt to avoid the problem by using a knife with a very shallow skew and trying not to lift the heel of the bevel above the blade of the square. For what it’s worth, I’ve cut metal bladed squares with my knife too, though you don’t take a slice off but you can leave a nice ding in the blade that would then need to be filed out. The Veritas spear point, and most other spear points have very sharp angles to them. I used the Veritas for years and wasn’t fond of it for that reason. The knife I use now is one modeled on Adam Cherubini’s striking knife though the blade is narrower. I posted about making the knife some time back so you might check it out.

      As careful as I am though, sometimes I just goof and slice the square’s blade. However, it’s an easy fix to just plane the blade straight and square again until I mess it up the next time. These squares are so easy to make, I don’t worry about it much. Once I wear it out, I’ll just make a new one. Takes maybe 2 hours of work, if that.

      I don’t use a knife to mark dovetails, I use an awl, so it isn’t a problem when marking dovetails from the pins.

  6. Bob,
    What stable woods work well for winding sticks, straight edges, etc.? Recommendations on what to use and NOT use would be appreciated. Thanks! Mark Hays

    • For making tools, I’ve used walnut, beech, cherry, mahogany, maple, oak, hickory, ash and birch. You pretty much want anything that is relatively hard, fairly straight grained and doesn’t have a lot of figure. As for what not to use, anything soft and/or highly figured in my book. The figure to me means squirley grain, which typically means less stability. I know some folks have made tools from tiger maple, etc., but I try not to. YMMV. The reasons not to use soft woods are simply to maintain accuracy and for better wear.

    • Not from Harbor Freight, but they probably carry it. It’s just the basic Crown sliding pin gauge that everyone carries. I think I got it from Woodcraft.

      • Ah I see yeah its identical to mine except I ground the bottom tooth off and flattened the other two to knife points

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