Transferring A Line

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Forum topic by Jim Crockett (USN Retired) posted 07-22-2009 04:50 AM 1127 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Jim Crockett (USN Retired)

852 posts in 3154 days

07-22-2009 04:50 AM

I’ve always had trouble accurately transferring a line from the face of a board to the edge(s) or vice versa. If I start on one face, transfer all the way around the board using a square, I’ll usually be off by at least 1/8”, probably more.

Other than purchasing a saddle square from Lee Valley, does anyone have any secrets/tips on how to accurately transfer a line? Of course some of my problem might be my aging eyes (do you suppose?).


-- A veteran is someone who, at one point in his/her life, wrote a blank check made payable to "The United States of America," for an amount of "up to and including his/her life".

10 replies so far

View CharlieM1958's profile


16229 posts in 3639 days

#1 posted 07-22-2009 05:09 AM

What’s wrong with purchasing a saddle square from Lee Valley? I’ve got one, and it’s about the greatest invention since the wheel.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View kolwdwrkr's profile


2821 posts in 3011 days

#2 posted 07-22-2009 05:11 AM

cut your board square. LOL Board has to have two paralell edges, typically one edge is ran on the jointer to flatten the face, and then the other side is ran through the planer. this will make the edges parallel to one another. Then you can run the trued up edge along the jointers fence flat, and true up the adjacent face, and then parallel it with the planer. Then you should have a perfectly square board, and when you run your line it should be perfect.

-- ~ Inspiring those who inspire me ~

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


17577 posts in 3097 days

#3 posted 07-22-2009 05:38 AM

Be more careful, but if you can’t see good enuf, nothing but glasses will fix that, if you’re lucky.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View ajosephg's profile


1878 posts in 2982 days

#4 posted 07-22-2009 05:45 AM

if you are always off, maybe your square isn’t square. Framing squares are notorius for being off.

-- Joe

View lew's profile


11265 posts in 3176 days

#5 posted 07-22-2009 05:49 AM

Here’s what I do.

When making the mark around the board, I start with the pencil at the edge away from me and the point of the pencil “over the edge” of the piece. Then draw the line towards me, along the edge of the square. Next, rotate the piece towards me so that the edge- that was where the pencil started- is now closest to me. The fact that the pencil started “over the edge” means it actually made a small mark on the side of the piece that was adjacent to the surface on which the line was drawn. The small mark serves as an alignment point for the square- to draw the layout line on the next side. Repeat the process, always starting with the pencil “over the edge”. One additional step you can do is place the point of the pencil on the small mark (made by the pencil on the adjacent side) and then bring the square to the pencil point. This takes the guess work out of locating the square and pencil. If your square is accurate and you take your time you should drawing lines that meet exactly when you get all the way around the piece.

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View bbbb's profile


34 posts in 2769 days

#6 posted 07-22-2009 06:44 AM

I dont know the condition of your workshop, but if your stock has been machined correctly and your marking tools are in good shape I found it really helpful to use local task lighting when applying layout lines, and of course mark from the face and face edge I assume thats the convention used where you live.


-- Bill,Bonnie Scotland

View a1Jim's profile


115177 posts in 2998 days

#7 posted 07-22-2009 06:46 AM

AS lew said bring the square to the pencil point.

-- Custom furniture

View patron's profile


13524 posts in 2762 days

#8 posted 08-16-2009 04:43 AM

keep your square on the same edge and side ( left or right ) and mark both faces from that edge .
the more you move the board and the square around , it gets a different reference point to work from .

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

View BeeJay's profile


71 posts in 2609 days

#9 posted 09-11-2009 01:01 PM

Mate, the thickness of the pencil line will exagerate the offset if you maintain the error. Try putting the pencil in the centre of the existing line and place the square against the pencil. Practice this for a while and adjust as necessary until you find the position that suits you. Be Square and Be Straight.

I cut the thing twice and its still too damned short.

-- If you try to fail and succeed, what have you done?

View startingfromscratch's profile


69 posts in 2613 days

#10 posted 09-11-2009 08:36 PM

Do a lot of folks use the saddle square? I just recently was playing with one and really thought it was neat…but also maybe another gizmo for something I don’t need a new tool to do. Thoughts?

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