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Measuring tools for woodworkers


For any woodwork project, precise and accurate measurement is imperative. If you make a little mistake in measurement, you will spend additional time to correct, and if you don’t, the finished product will be of low quality.

Proper measurement will require you to have some knowledge about the tool and how to use it. So many tools can be used for measurement, but buying all of them at once will not be wise enough. It would be better to buy a tool when its need arises.

I have done some research about the important measuring tools necessary for the woodworking project, but before we proceed, it would be appropriate to understand what we buy best measuring tools for woodworking. So what are measuring tools? 

Just like the name suggests, these are tools that are used for measurements. What to measure can be the distance between two points, the angular distance or even flatness of a surface. Each tool is specially designed to perform a specific function.

Types of measuring tools.

As a woodworker, you probably know these tools, but for your better understanding, I am going to classify them into three broad categories before we can finally have a detailed look at them. So the following are the categories in which these tools belong.

Linear distance measurement tools 

Under this category, we have a tape measure, steel ruler, laser measure, and so on. Length is a factor to consider when using these tools as some are designed to measure small to large lengths while others for little and crucial lengths.

Angular distance measurement tools 

Linear distance measurement tools cannot be used to measure angular distance. For angular distance, tools such as screw gauge, protractor, compass, angle gauge, Framing Square, sliding bevel gauge, and try square are used.

 Flatness checking tool

Any woodworking project will be incomplete without flatness of the surface being checked. You can’t use your open eyes to do it, and so you will require flatness checking measuring tools like level. From this point, I am randomly going to discuss the above-mentioned tools.

Tape measure.

A tape measure is also known as measuring tape. It is a type of flexible ruler, which is made from a variety of materials such as plastic, cloth, and fiberglass. The most commonly used tape measure for woodwork, especially carpentry, is the self-retracting one. The tape ribbon is made from a rigid metallic material that can stiffen when needed while being able to roll up for easy use and storage at the same time.

Tape measures are made in imperial units that are inches and feet as well as metric( meters and centimeters). Some special versions may include markings used to cover roofing truss lengths and housing stud intervals.

So how do you read a tape measure?

You will use the following methods to read a tape measure. Each method is specific to the length you wish to read.

  • First, you will have to identify the makings. The biggest marking represents the inch mark; this is on a standard tape.
  • With the decrease in increments, the markings’ length will also decrease; for instance, ½” has a bigger mark when compared to ¼,” which in turn has a bigger mark than 1/3″ and so on.
  • The space between two large marks represents an inch.
  • To read ½ inch, you will use the same principle of reading one inch only that you will read the space between the largest mark and the second-largest mark. From the general point of view, the half-inch mark is halfway between a full inch.
  • For the remaining markings, the same pattern is used. ¼” is half of ½” while 1/8″ is half of ¼.” Some tape measures makings can be as small as 1/16″.

If you want to do the measurement, you can simply follow the procedures below.

  • To measure the length, fix the end of the tape at one end of the item you wish to measure the take the reading when the length stops.
  • Finding the length. For you to determine the length, add the length between the inches together.
  • If the length is less than 1 inch, read off the tape measure. Suppose the inch increments are not labeled, identify the markings’ increment, and then add the respective fractions.

Vernier calipers

This is another important tool that every woodworker should have in their collection. Small to large distance can be measured using any other tool, but for you to measure a smaller distance, for instance, a gauge of drill bits, screw sizes, and blade width, you will have to use vernier calipers.

Vernier calipers provide physical contact with the surface being gauged, thereby delivering hair splinting measurement that you can’t achieve by sighting across the markings on a ruler or tape measure. 

Understanding the tool.

Vernier calipers can open a little more than 6.”Although 3 “and 4” can have sufficient capacity for most woodworking tools for measuring angles jobs. Whether the calipers is an analog dial or LCD readout, the measurement is shown in fractions, decimal (increment to 0.001) and metric (0.1 or 0.001mm). For most woodworking, fractional readings are mostly used. Metric and decimal scales can be used for simplifying the math. 

The LCD screen on digital calipers can provide a fast and precise reading. Conversion of the measurement from fractions to metric and also to decimal imperial can be done with a push of a button. However, analog calipers allow you to degree eyeball between marked increments.

How can you take an increment using vernier calipers?

The same principles are applied when using calipers. This is irrespective of whether the calipers are analog or digital. First, you will need to close the jaws to confirm whether the display is reading zero. If it doesn’t, adjust the calibration. This you can do by loosening the bezel clamp screw for analog one. You then rotate the bezel until the scale zero comes into contact with the.you pointer then secure the screw.

The Digital version has no work

All you need is to press the zero reset button. If you want to take the measurement, you will have to brush the surface of the workpiece clean; this is in order to prevent sawdust and other debris from tampering with your reading. You then touch the jaws to the workpiece gently. If you force the thumbwheel or jaws, you can distort the calipers, and this can make the reading unreliable. After the measurement, tighten the jaw lock to preserve the measurement upon removing the tool from your workpiece.

You gently close the jaws on each side of the workpiece to measure the outside dimension then read the measurement on display. For inside dimension scale, you keep the calipers perpendicular to the wall, then apply light pressure to the thumbwheel so you can find the widest opening range.

Put the flat end of the calipers onto the surface to find the phase size. The phase touch at the sliding head ‘s rear should be on the other side. Finally, tap the bar between the surfaces against the shoulder to prevent tilting the calipers. 

You’ll need to place the end of the calipers on the edge of the hole to assess the depth. You then stretch the depth rod until it reaches the lower part of the hole, then you take the test.


A protractor is a woodworking tool for measuring angles. To cut an object at a specific angle, you will need protractor; otherwise, you won’t be able to do it. The protractor is used to measure the angle. Traditional compass may act as an alternative, but using the protractor makes the work more simple and precise, so if you were to choose between the two, go for the latter.

Framing square. 

They help in keeping you work square, especially during assembly. If you are working on cabinetry, you will need a large square, which measures 24 by 16 inches. They are also required to test the square edges on workpieces like doors and plywood. Lesser versions can be used where 24-inch square can not fit. When you use a framing square while building furniture, when nailing, screwing, or even stapling the pieces together, you will have no problem with the accuracy.

Try squares

They are similar to a large framing square. They are dedicated right angles, but unlike framing squares, they have a metal blade fixed into a wooden handle, thereby making them have no single body construction. The purpose of the thick wood handle is to provide a lip on either edge of the blade. This allows it to rest on the object with ease as compared to the large single bodied one. 

Combination squareOf all the squares, this is the favorite of many woodworkers.it is one of the most versatile tools since it can be used to verify the square edges and flat surfaces of the workpiece at the same time. Additionally, its adjustable head can be used for calibrating and checking or laying out joinery. 

Because of its versatility, most shops have it in different sizes ranging from 4 inches to 12 inches.


Using level can quite frustrating, and I believe most workers will concur with me. The tool is designed to measure and point out imperfections. The frustrations come in when you have to make changes over and over until everything is okay. This can also be good since you will end up creating something perfect.

Sliding T bevel

The instrument is used for laying out and transferring angles. It is pivotal for different kinds of construction jobs, especially the ones in which achieving ideal 90degrees is not possible. With this, too, you will be able to confirm your project to less than ideal angle measurements.

The tool is made up of a handle with a metal blade attached to it. The blade is rounded off at one end while the other end is maintained at a 45-degree angle. The handle can be molded or wood. The attached metal blade is done using thumbscrew .if If you loosen the wing nut, the blade will be free to rotate a 360 degree, thus allowing the blade to make any degree angle in reference to the handle. With this, the tool can be an excellent resource in tracing any degree. This can make renovation projects or projects where angles are non-standard simple.

 Short rule.

A tape measure can be an alternative to a ruler, but using it can be a bit awkward, especially when you are marking critical measurements in the middle of a workpiece. If you have a flat 6-inch ruler, then your work will be smooth.it can fit in the pocket nicely and can make accurate measurements in 1/64 inch increment.

For a good ruler, each edge should give measurements for different increments; this means dividing inches by eighths of an inch at one edge. The most sensitive edge can be split to 64ths of an inch.

Mentioned above are the best woodworking tools for measuring angles, so if you happen to own a woodworking shop, ensure you have the above tools in your arsenal because your shop will be incomplete without them. Once you own these tools, ensure you maintain then so that they can serve longer. I am optimistic about these tools by your side; you will make fewer measurement mistakes. Your projects will have a lot of accuracies, and as a result, you will be inspired to engage deeply into whatever you are doing.

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