Tips & Tricks: Measure Twice, Cut Once

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Forum topic by MsDebbieP posted 11-09-2011 11:25 PM 3775 views 0 times favorited 32 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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18618 posts in 4366 days

11-09-2011 11:25 PM

Topic tags/keywords: measuring tips tricks

What are your tips & tricks re: MEASURING?

(also add links to helpful blogs etc that are related to the topic)

Gateway to all Tips & Tricks Topics

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

32 replies so far

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18618 posts in 4366 days

#1 posted 11-09-2011 11:28 PM

one tip that I’ve learned from LumberJocks is to use the same tape measure when measuring the components of a project.
  • the tip of the tape measures (whatever that thingy is called) may be more loose on one than another
  • the markings may not be as precise on one tape measure as on another
    These difference will affect the precision of your measuring.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

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1290 posts in 3095 days

#2 posted 11-09-2011 11:30 PM

Use a story stick. Beats trying to remember numbers and/or fractions.

-- Sawdust and shavings are therapeutic

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340 posts in 3858 days

#3 posted 11-09-2011 11:39 PM

Like ksSlim, I try not to have to measure. I use story sticks and/or reference pieces relative to each other. When I do have to measure, I found that the Incra measuring gauges are perfect for that. They make one that works like a panel gauge. You can hook it to the side of the board and it is graded to 1/64 ” (with holes in the gradations where you can insert a fine lead pencil to mark).

Contractor tapes with hooks are unreliable. The hook usually moves.

-- Yves

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1642 posts in 3189 days

#4 posted 11-09-2011 11:53 PM

I use matched steel cabinet makers rules to measure with, as well as the use of story sticks. A lot of times for dowels I use those free plastic drill size gauges when unsure of a dowel size.

-- I don't make mistakes, I have great learning lessons, Greg

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13640 posts in 3547 days

#5 posted 11-09-2011 11:58 PM

bending the tape back to itself
tip to whole (or even parts of)
and the center of the bend is always half

in this case
half of 20 is 10
shown in the fold

to add
place the two measurement together
and read at the hook of the tape
here 12” + 3 1/2” = 15 1/2”

to subtract
place the hook at the larger measure
and read back from the hook
to the smaller measure
and read across
29 1/2” – 5 1/8” = 24 3/8”
(or 29 1/2” – 26 5/8” = 2 7/8”)

sometimes this is faster
than writing
and or finding your calculator

can’t multiply or divide yet
it may be part of my
‘unfinished symphony’ lol

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

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18618 posts in 4366 days

#6 posted 11-10-2011 12:08 AM

that reminds me of the trick Jordan taught us during the shoe carving class: (a simple strip of paper folded in half)
See photos here:

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

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404 - Not Found

2544 posts in 3175 days

#7 posted 11-10-2011 01:57 AM

Patron bends his tape
straight line’s gone out of shape
all the cuts are long
this technique is wrong


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893 posts in 2881 days

#8 posted 11-10-2011 02:52 PM

I have maybe 5 or 6 different tape measures.
When they start to get worn out they step down a notch as follows:

Brand new – cabinet work only – never leaves the shop.

used /glue spots, kinks – framing and general use

case is beat up, still accurate but not too pretty – spare or loaner

If it has a crack in the tape or needs oiling because it won’t retract – throw it away.

if you are working with someone on a project, it’s a good idea to check often if tapes measure the same by holding them together.

side note: I like to give my clients a new 25’ tape measure with their name on it at the begining of every job.
They love it! (they won’t borrow mine)

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18618 posts in 4366 days

#9 posted 11-10-2011 03:23 PM

a great tip re: “not borrowing mine”—and they get a gift. great win-win

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

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18618 posts in 4366 days

#10 posted 11-10-2011 03:28 PM

there’s also Lee Valley's story tape .. works like a story stick but the marks are made on the special tape measure.

(photo from Lee Valley’s website)

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

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Gene Howe

11079 posts in 3634 days

#11 posted 11-10-2011 03:51 PM

I really like David’s (Patron) use of the tape for addition and subtraction involving fractions. Thanks David!

As KsSlim says, story sticks and I’d add, using 123 blocks and/or set up blocks (I use key way stock) and drill bit sizes, are most repeatable and accurate.

Also, I’ve pretty much retired all my calipers, for gauging thicknesses out of the planer, in favor of open end wrenches.

Wasn’t that Lee Valley story tape a result of one of their April Fool’s ads a few years ago. Great joke and an even greater product. Serendipity, huh?

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

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18618 posts in 4366 days

#12 posted 11-10-2011 04:40 PM

and yes, that was a Lee Valley April Fool’s joke tool that they made but found uses for in reality.
(on a side note, I find it interesting that for all of their joke tools they make an actual product)
Here are all of their joke tools

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

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2246 posts in 2898 days

#13 posted 11-11-2011 03:32 AM

1. When I need to measure between two points accurately I do it in two steps. First measure one direction stopping and making a mark at some multiple of ten. Next measure from the opposite direction to the mark and add the two numbers together.

2. On the front edge of my table saw is a piece of white tape with an index mark on it.

Sometimes I’ll use that part of my dial veneer caliper that sticks out the end of it to set my rip fence distance to blade.

-- Darrell, making more sawdust than I know what to do with

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1829 posts in 2595 days

#14 posted 11-11-2011 03:49 AM

I have learned not to even try to measure with a tape. Most of the time I have a scrap of wood lying around that is long even to measure the distance needed, set one end flush with the end and mark the other end with a knife on the scrap. The wood is rigid more or less, and you only have one mark to misread. I also have a 60” aluminum ‘yard’ stick. It is much easier to get measurements right when you dont have to fight a floppy tape.

-- Haming it up in the 'bash.

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7681 posts in 3006 days

#15 posted 11-11-2011 03:52 AM

I do all my woodwork in old school increments. I use fathoms, cubits, span… you know, the stuff Noah used…

-- Subscribe to "Stumpy Nubs Woodworking Journal"- One of the crafts' most unique publications:

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