Today, while cutting the pieces for a mobile worktable, the guy for whom I’m building it commented on a couple of methods that he thought were clever. These are things that I’ve been doing for so long that they’re instinctual for me but he liked them a lot, so I thought I’d share them…
1. I measure and mark the cut line before moving the piece to the table saw. I make a line on the face, then use a square to transfer it to the edge so I can line it up perfectly on the saw tooth. Once it’s on the table saw, I grab my measuring tape and pencil and remeasure. I make a check-mark on the (board face of the) workpiece side of the line, representing the good part (the finished part that I’m keeping/using). Not only does this reinforce the “measure twice, cut once” practice, (it’s a really good habit – not just in theory) but it also prevents me from lining up the cut on the wrong edge of the blade, resulting in a workpiece that’s 1/8” too short.
2. When I’ve cut all the intended work pieces from a board, I mark the end grain of the remnant with some Xs (to indicate scrap) and the dimensions of the board. If, at any point during the project (or at some future date), I need a small piece of something, I can tell at a glance whether the piece is wide/long enough.
-- Founding member of the (un)Official LumberJock's Frugal Woodworking Society - http://lumberjocks.com/topics/29451