15 Must-Have Measuring Tools for Serious Woodworking
The craft of woodworking is one that involves taking very accurate measurements. As a matter of fact, accuracy cannot be overestimated because pieces of wood can only fit into other parts if the dimensions are completely accurate. This is why professional and woodworkers make use of a number of woodworking measuring tools to ensure accuracy and perfect the smallest details. Furthermore, the quality of a finished wood product is heavily dependent on joints fitting into each other perfectly.
Inaccurate measures could result in a wobbly and low-quality end product. In order to avoid such issues, here are 15 must-have woodworking measuring tools for every woodworker.
1. Tape Measure
A Tape Measure comprises one of the most basic measuring tools that any woodworker, either professional or a DIY-enthusiast should have. It is simply a flexible ruler that allows you to go beyond taking linear measurements to measure around corners or curves.
You can easily identify it and it usually comes as plastic, a metal strip, a ribbon of cloth. Or even fiberglass with tell-tale linear-measurement markings along its length.
A tape measure is the best bet for measuring very great lengths and is pretty easy to carry around as well. For a professional woodworker, a 16-foot tape measure is just great.
2. Laser Measure
The laser measure has fast become one of the most used woodworking measuring tools by professionals including architects, designers, and contractors. It is also great for woodworkers to measure any distance up to 50 feet.
Apart from the fact that it gives straightforward answers, some laser measures are also popular due to having a continuous measurement feature. It allows them to provide instant real-time results.
This makes the laser measure a truly invaluable tool that every professional woodworker should possess in their toolbox or workshop.
3. Steel Rule
A steel rule is one of the most basic of woodworking measuring tools and provided it is used correctly. You can use it can to achieve the most accurate measurements. Meter rules are not good to measure very long lengths. However, having a 6-inch and 12-inch steel rule at your disposal would avail much.
Meter rules are only effective at measuring linear measurements or straight edge measurements and are usually used in conjunction with some marking tool. In order to get accurate measures with your steel rule, you need to ensure that it is completely straight and isn’t bent in any way.
4. Folding Rule
A Folding Rule is mainly used for measuring longer dimensions very accurately. The edge that a 6″ folding wooden rule has over a retractable steel tape measure is that it doesn’t have a hook on one end which could get damaged.
This, in turn, guarantees that measurements with the folding rule are highly accurate and have fewer chances of an error occurring. Also known as jointed rules or zig-zag rules, it usually comprises a series of smaller rule strips (two or more) joined together with the aid of hinges.
This way, you can fold it easily paving the way for portability.
5. Speed Square
A Speed Square otherwise referred to as a rafter angle square, rafter square, or triangle square is a triangular-shaped tool that is used by woodworkers for marking out. It basically combines the most common functions of a framing square, combination square and try square into one.
It could also combine the functions of up to five tools into one such as a protractor, line scriber, miter square, saw guide and try square.
Despite all of these, the tool is very lightweight and highly durable as well. Marking out angles on woodcut becomes very simplified by using this and rest assured, it can be used for years.
6. Machinist Square
A Machinist Square is a tool that easily comes into play when woodworkers need something for making precise and is also very ideal for tool setup. Thanks to its compact size, it easily fits in apron pockets making it a very easy-to-reach tool.
Also, known as an engineer’s square, it is simply a tool that plays the role of the try square in woodworking and metalworking. It usually consists of a steel blade inserted into a heavier body by either welding or pinning at an angle of 90°.
Also, usually you can find a small notch at Machinist Square’s inside corner.
7. Combination Square
A Combination Square has multiple functions in different craft lines including stone masonry, woodworking and metalworking as well. It is usually composed of a ruled blade that has one or more heads affixed to it that you can interchange.
The most common head is the square head, also known as the standard head. Use it for layout or checking 45° angles and 90° angles. Its basic function is to verify flat surfaces and square edges of workpieces.
Aside from this, you can also use the Combination Square’s adjustable head for laying out joinery and checking or calibrating machinery. Due to its practicality, most professionals usually have several combination squares ranging from 4 to 12 inches.
8. Framing Square
The Framing Square is otherwise known as a Steel Square and has a wide range of uses in woodworking. Aside from woodworking, its functionality extends to laying stairs and rafters and framing as well.
When it is used as a straight-edge, its main function is for marking cut-off work on wide stock and for determining right angles.
The longer arm of the Framing Square measures 2 inches in width and is referred to as the blade while the shorter narrower arm which measures only one and a half inches in width is referred to as the tongue.
9. Universal Angle Guide
In order to identify and mark a known angle, a multi-functional tool remains one of the best to use thanks to its high precision. It usually comes with laser-etched markings to provide a perfect reference for any angle at all between 0° and 180° in 1⁄2 ” increments.
Then you can use it to set a sliding bevel gauge or miter gauge. Also, you can use either end of the Universal Angle Guide for setting saw blade height and set router bit.
To do this, you would need to peer very closely because the fine markings could prove a bit difficult to read creating an opening for the possibility of error.
However, given that you take your readings perfectly, you can stay rest assured of no errors.
10. Digital Sliding T-Bevel Gauge
Angles are an essential part of any woodworking job, therefore, it is the duty of the woodworker to find the correct, accurate and perfect angles. For any woodworker to accurate join various pieces perfectly at corners, Sliding T-Bevel Gauge is of the essence.
In the absence of this, the woodworker would have to make educated guesses which are not very appropriate. This tool does both outsides and inside angles and offers a large measuring range as well.
In terms of projects, this tool is appropriate for door frames, crown moldings, trim, and a whole lot more. This digital version makes for a lot more versatility too.
11. Digital Depth Gauge
The Digital Depth Gauge comes in very handy for measurement of depths of recesses, grooves, openings, and so on. Its mode of operation is to make use of the measurement surface as its base.
Based on the reading device type, there are different classes of depth gauges such as:
- height-and-depth gauges. Accompanied by a measurement range from 0 to 200 or 320 mm and calibrations of 0.05 mm. Or with a measurement range of 0 to 500 mm with calibrations of 0.2 mm;
- indicator depth gauges. With a measurement range of 100 mm and calibrations of 0.01 mm;
- and micrometric depth gauges. With a measurement range up to 150 mm and calibrations of 0.01 mm.
12. Digital Calipers
Digital calipers are an essential part of a woodworker’s toolbox and are indeed very easy to use. In order to get an accurate measurement, all the woodworker needs to do is slide his set of digital calipers around the object.
Its main use if for determining the thickness of a piece of wood or measuring the size of the gap between two wood pieces.
Most of the models of this tool available are usually accurate to 1/1000th of an inch which implies that digital calipers guarantee higher accuracy than making use of the analog version. Also, they are very handy, making them easy to operate or make use of.
13. Moisture Meter
Knowledge of the moisture level of the wood which you want to work with is an essential factor before you get to work. Depending on the wood type and the exact location where it was gotten from, you might need to delay a bit in order to modify its conditions.
For instance, if your wood is wet, you might have to wait until it dries before you get to work. In addition, wet wood would shrink as it dries and this might constitute serious issues especially if you have made use of it in construction already.
Therefore, you would need to keep a moisture meter very close to prevent a problem that can be avoided.
14. The Level
A Level is a tool designed and structured for pointing out errors or imperfections. Use it step by step with every measurement you make in the construction process.
This because you could end up getting very frustrated, and it wouldn’t be because the Level is difficult to operate. It would be because the Level would point out every single one of your errors such as unevenness in a kitchen door you already installed. Or the slightest of slants in a table you already assembled and thought to be perfect.
However, when you make use of a Level, you can be certain of ending up with perfect construction.
15. Hand Plane Sole Check Gauge
Hand Plane Sole Check Gauge despite its pretty extended name is very easy to use. This tool’s application comes in when you want to measure the depth of a cut that you have selected.
It comes with a magnetic-fitted base and internal digital depth gauge that also measures the straightness and squareness of the blade that you are using.
Thanks to its invaluable functionality, you can use a Hand Plane Sole Check Gauge when working with hard planes. Take readings in decimal and fractional inches, and mm and has an accuracy of up to 0.001″.
For every woodworker who intends to have the best finishing, these tools are of very high essence in achieving that. Similarly, since errors would be minimized or even totally eliminated, woodworkers are saved the time they would have had to spend adjusting and correcting. Application of these tools guarantees a perfect finish which is of course what every woodworker desires.