*This post is sponsored by The Home Depot
Not all measuring tools are created equal. Here's a list of some of my go-to favorites and why I love them.
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First on my list is this 16' measuring tape from Fast Cap. For every day in the shop I prefer 16' over the larger tapes, very rarely will I actually need a 25' tape. Here's why I love this one so much.
- I am awful at math. I can't for the life of me remember that 11/16 is the little line right before 3/4 (I had to google that...) This tape has all the measurements up to 1/16 clearly marked! This is the main reason why I love this tape and will spend 10 minutes looking for it over using another one where 1/16 are not clearly labeled.
- The numbers are clearly written on both sides of the tape. So whether you are measuring from the right or the left you will never have to read upside down.
- It has a built in pencil sharpener. Yes, a BUILT IN PENCIL SHARPENER. Sorry for yelling but how amazing is that??
- The front of it acts as an erasable notepad. Not only am I awful at math, but my memory is pretty horrendous too... You know the saying measure twice, cut once? In my case, its measure 5 times... Not when I use this tape though! I can write the measurement on the front with my super sharp pencil and cut it right on the first try.
If I do need to measure long distances I use a laser measure. I love the Bosch BLAZE 135 ft. laser measure. While this tool is not necessary and you might not need it often it is great to have. If you do a lot of custom built-ins this tool is a game changer. Not only does it look professional when you show up to a client meeting with a laser measure, it's quicker and easier. Your clients will be impressed and your measurements will be super accurate. Here's why I love the Bosch.
- It's easy to read with a full color backlit display.
- Very small and lightweight, can easily fit into a pocket.
- One button operation. Hold it up against a wall, press the button, and done!
- Remember how awful my memory is? After taking the measurements, you can save up to 20 right on the tool.
- It also has a digital level built right into it. You can see in the picture below, the level is reading "0.0". Super awesome.
You would think a ruler is just a ruler, right? Wrong. I only use the Victor 18" ruler in my shop. Here's why.
- Back to those 1/16... This ruler has them all clearly labeled.
- The back is cork so it wont slip on your workpiece as you are using it.
- It has a hole on the end so I can hang it on my pegboard.
- Just in case you need to use metric, its on the other side.
If you are getting into woodworking, you will need a good combination square. They are great for laying out joinery, setting up tools, marking perpendicular lines and mitered lines. It's important to get a good quality square because you want your work to actually be square!
I prefer to use the Starrett 12" combo square and there is really only one reason why I prefer this one over the others.
I know it is accurately square.
I have purchased cheap squares before and lined them up against this Starrett combo square, the cheap ones are usually out of square...
Speaking of accuracy, setting up your tools correctly is one of the most important parts of woodworking. To help with this process, I use a digital angle gauge. Not only will this help align your table-saw or miter saw to be perfectly 90 or 45, you can easily set it to any angle you like.
Now, I haven't used any other brand but this Wixey gauge, so I can't tell you why I like it better. I don't know if its better than any of the other brands, I just know it has been accurate for me and a really big help with setting up my tools.
The pictures below show that my tablesaw was actually not a perfect 90 degrees. After a quick adjustment, it is now perfectly square.
One of my favorite measuring tools is actually a tool I made and it's a tool that helps me move on with my work without measuring...
Its a center finding jig. This jig has a pencil and 2 stops that are evenly spaced away from from the pencil. All I have to do is twist the jig to lock the stops on the side of a board and run the pencil down the center. Easy as that. I love that it is adjustable for multiple sized workpieces.
To make this jig I took a scrap piece of maple and made a center line down the middle of the face.
I drilled one hole all the way through that was the same size as my pencil. (The hole doesn't need to be perfectly centered on the jig the long way, but it does need to be on the line you drew in the first step.
The two stops need to be spaced evenly away from the pencil in order for this jig to work.
You can measure for the stops and try to drill them freehand or for better accuracy you can make a quick little jig at the drill press.
I took a scrap piece of plywood and drilled another hole using the same drill bit that was the size of the pencil.
Then I took a pencil, put it in the hole in the plywood and in the hole in in the jig.
I clamped the plywood jig and the center jig to the drill press and drilled a hole on one side of the pencil, making sure I was drilling on the center line I made earlier. (I did not drill all the way through)
Keeping the plywood jig clamped to the drill press table, I rotated the center jig around the pencil so I could drill another hole on the center line on the other side.
Rotating the jig around the pencil ensures that your holes are drilled in exactly the same place on opposite sides of the jig.
Thats it! You don't need to use brass for the stops... wooden dowels would be enough!
I hope this list was helpful, if you have any other measuring tools you find helpful in the shop, I would love to know!
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