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WW: Woodworking Hand Tool Basics: Marking and Measuring

May 28, 2019 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm EDT

Consider the magnificent old furniture and buildings, even stone cathedrals, that were laid out without tape measures. What did they know about layout that we have forgotten?

Our marking and measuring tools are so good that anyone can lay out wood parts with as much precision as desired using a systematic approach and a few powerful principles such as:
• consistency versus adhering to a plan
• templates and story sticks
• scalable plans measured in modules
• reference and shop made tools

In this class, I’ll use every trick I can think of to free you from the tyranny of rulers. Rulers are actually great of course, but they lead to habits that become unnecessary constraints on your designs. It helps to step back, to look deeply at what you’re trying to measure and how, and to start developing a personal system for marking and measuring. You’ll get to handle a variety of tools including some high end ones (spoiler alert, slightly better and a lot more expensive).

Finally, I’ll show you two remarkable and underused tools. Some folks don’t know or care much about double squares. Others (and not just me) will panic if their trusty double squares go missing. You’re going to have to choose a side. The sector has been called the slide rule of woodworking. You can make one easily and thereby incorporate some fascinating and practical elements from a traditional design vocabulary based on modules and ratios.


Even if you have access to a room full of band saws, table saws, and more, you need some hand tools to handle certain smaller tasks and to add refinement to your projects. Hand tools can help you:

– quickly and quietly complete some small cuts
– fit joints with precision
– prepare edges for glue
– add elegance to joints and surfaces
– foster affinity with your material
– explore creative options too risky for power tools

So use power tools for the big stuff. Slow down and finish up with hand tools. A basic set of hand tools is not too expensive, not too big to store, and not hard to maintain. Basic skills are easy to pick up at first, improve quickly with practice, and open up to growing mastery over time.


May 28, 2019
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm EDT
Event Category:


NOVA Makers


*Nova Labs (Classroom B)
1916 Isaac Newton Square W.
Reston, va 20190 US
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