Right Techniques To Measure, Mark AND Cut Wood (2022)

“Measure Twice Cut Once” – How To Measure Your Wood Projects

Wrong with measurements is one of the most common reasons a wood project can go wrong. Hence the well known saying – “Measure twice, cut once.” It applies to all craftwork that involves cutting and assembling, eg. Sewing.

In this post we will look at the different ways you can measure your wood projects and which method to use when for the most accurate results.

Many start out with not allotting enough importance to this part of woodworking. But they soon realize that even small errors in measurements can sometimes lead to a discrepancy serious enough to be to be a major hassle. The measuring mistakes that are discovered during the assembling stage of the process, can be a bother to sort out.

In dire situations you might not have another option but to re-cut and reassemble the wood project!We do not want this happening. So let’s start by looking at all the wood measuring tools available to you.

Right Techniques To Measure, Mark AND Cut Wood (1)

Using A Measuring Tape.

Measuring tape is essential in a wood-shop. You have the option of a metal tape or a soft cloth version. A 12 inch retractable metal tape is the most commonly used measuring tape. It’s small, lightweight and makes measuring convenient. The stiff blade of the tape ensures that it does not bunch up during the measurements.

(Video) The Work Around: How to Mark Wood Accurately Before Cutting | HGTV

A single person can easily measure large boards since it has a hook at one end as well. A tape measure is versatile and can be used to measure both large and small projects. However, for very accurate small measurements, some wood workers swear by a ruler.

Measuring By A Ruler

Measuring small measures is more convenient with a ruler. It is also quicker. Rulers come in many sizes. The most widely used sizes range from 6 inches to 2 feet long. Get a set as its not expensive. Metal is good but avoid brass as its too soft and can bend out of shape very easily.

Another option with measure with a ruler is to get a foldable 10ft ruler. It gives the accuracy of a ruler and is portable enough to wield and carry just like a folding niche tape.

There is actually a very effective version of a common measuring ruler that you should try to get your hands on. The image is below.

Right Techniques To Measure, Mark AND Cut Wood (2)

The measuring ruler above is innovative and practical. The grooves in the ruler right along the markings makes it both easy and accurate to mark the wood with.

(Video) Marking and Cutting Pro Tips

Here are the links to purchase this ruler online. Thank for you the feedback from one of our readers for pointing out that this information was missing for whoever wanted to buy this product.

1)Incra Bend Rule 18-Inch Incra Rules Marking Rule.

2) Incra IRSET12 12-Inch Marking Rule Set

Measuring angles with Squares

Apart from measuring length you will also need to measure angles. For example if you want to cut a rectangular piece, after marking one side for the cut you need to mark the other side at right angles. This can be done with the help of a tool called ‘squares.’ In this case you will use a ‘try square’ which measures 90° right angles.

There are different kinds of squares that measure different angles. A ‘mitre square’ measure 45 degrees on one side and 135 degrees on another.

A ‘sliding bevel square’ has an adjustable knob that allows you to set it at any angle. You can use a protractor to set it at any precise angle.

(Video) Measure, Mark and Cut Parts Easily and Accurately

A ‘combination square’ can measure multiple angels of 45, 90, and 135 degrees.

You might be wondering why you need a ‘try square’ or a ‘mitre square’ when you can manage these angles with a combination square. For one thing, convenience. A try square is a simple tool with 2 blades attached to each other at 90 degrees. For another, readings for a 90 degree angle tend to be more accurate from a try square as compared to a combination square. At least that’s what many woodworkers will tell you.

When buying a square, buy one that is well made and sturdy. It’s even possible that a square you buy does not measure a correct 90 degree angle. There is a way to check it. We’ll get to that in a minute.

You will find some beautiful squares made out of wood. But as we’ve been telling you in our post “All about Wood”, wood is not the most stable of materials. It can change shape according to its environment, mostly humidity. So go for squares made out of metal and heavy grade plastic for more accurate measurements.

There is a simple way to tell if your square is accurate. Mark with it and then turn it over. See if the edges still match. If they don’t your square is not measuring a correct right angle.

Marking The Wood

Once you are done measuring there is one more step before you can actually start anything, and that’s the step of marking.

(Video) How to Measure and Mark wood for cutting.

Most woodworkers use a pen or a pencil and this seems to serve them just fine. But when it’s a question of very precise measurement, the thickness of the line drawn by the pen or the pencil can throw measurements off by 1/20th of an inch. This can create problems in the final assembling of the woodcraft.

So the first thing you need to do is to always use a well sharpened pencil and a pen with a fine nib.

However, there may be a better way. You can use a marking knife. A marking knife is a retractable blade with a very fine edge, not very different than a paper cutter you must have used for art and craft work in school. It’s just stronger and sharper.

Instead of making a line with a pen you can use the marking pen to cut a very fine and shallow groove on the surface of the wood.

There is a useful variation of a marking knife that you can use to mark from the edge of a board. It has a build in measuring scale with a clamp that can slide along the length of the ruler and be tightened at any point. One edge of the ruler has a sharp pin. The clamp is placed along the edge of the wood and slid along, while the pin end is lightly pressed to mark the wood.

Just remember to use marking knifes and blocks with a gentle pressure to avoid gouging the wood surface too deeply. In case you ever need to sand the mark, (most of the times you won’t if you cut accurately), a deep groove can be difficult to get rid of.

(Video) Mark and Measure Precisely - WOOD magazine

Cutting The Wood By Hand Saws

  • Read about the 7 kinds of hand saws and which one to use when.

The Proper Technique of Using A Hand Saw

We have listed 7 handsaws for you to have in your wood shop. However, the technique of using any handsaws for the best and safest results is pretty much the same. Here is the 6-point system of how to properly use a handsaw.

  • Grip the handsaw on the handle with your index finger extended along the side of the blade. This technique will steady the blade and let you better control the direction of the cut. The exception is when using a scroll saw, frame saw, coping saw, and Japanese saw. Frame, coping and scroll saws are commonly gripped on top of the frame by the free hand. A Japanese saw is almost like a knife and pretty stiff. So you might not feel the need to steady the blade with your index finger.
  • Make the cut by running the saw slowly in one (cutting) direction. Steady the blade with the other free hand. Start with the to and fro motion of the saw only once the teeth have properly and completely sunk into the wood.
  • Secure the wood properly. This is another reason why clamps are a necessary item in a woodshop. If the wood is moving during cutting, you can injure yourself or botch up the cut.
  • Place your shoulder directly behind the saw and use even and rhythmic movements. This distributes the pressure evenly and leaves less room for fatigue, pain and injury.
  • Cut on the other side of the mark you have made, i.e. not the side you want to use. Otherwise you will reduce the size of the cut piece.
  • Support the wood. Make sure that there is no tug of gravity on either side of the piece you are cutting. Otherwise it may tear away before you are finished sawing, ruining the cut.

That’s it for this article. We would love to hear from your comments and observations. Go ahead and post them below. As always, thank you for reading!


How do you measure and cut wood accurately? ›

And make an eye or an l the reason it doesn't work is because it doesn't tell you enough information

How do you take measurements for wood? ›

A board foot is equal to a piece of wood 12 inches long x 12 inches wide and 1 inch thick, or 144 cubic inches. To figure the board foot measurement of a piece of wood, multiply the length x width x thickness in inches, then divide by 144.

How do you mark and cut angles in wood? ›

And make a mark 35 degree angle okay let's move on and do a 27 degree angle pivot point stays on the

How do you measure a mark? ›

Provide a great straightedge. And it's a real consistent straightedge I can use to check my table

How do you measure accurately? ›

The Work Around: How to Measure Accurately | HGTV - YouTube

How do you cut wood? ›

Every Way to Cut Cheap Wood (39 Methods) - YouTube

Why are measuring and marking important? ›

Measuring and marking tools will provide you with precise measurements and even placement during your next home repair project. See more pictures of hand tools. Just about every home repair project calls for accurate measurements. That's why it's important to have an arsenal of measuring and marking tools.

How do you measure and cut angles? ›

How to Measure Angle Cuts
  1. Measure the inside angle of the wall. Loosen the screw on the degree finder and place it on the corner of the wall. ...
  2. Read the degree indicated by the degree finder. The red indicator arrow will be pointing at a degree measurement. ...
  3. Measure the outside angle of the wall with the degree finder.

How do you measure and cut a square? ›

Step 1: Check for square and mark.

Before cutting a board, make sure the end that you won't cut is square. If it's not, cut it square and remeasure. Hook the tape measure on the end of the board and extend the tape until you reach the length for the crosscut. Mark the measurement with a V, not a straight line.

How do you measure a curve to cut wood? ›

Grab any narrow board or strip of plywood and drill a few holes—voilà, instant compass. Drill a pencil-size hole a few inches from the end of the board. Then drill a screw-size hole at the pivot point. The distance between them should be the radius of the curve, if you know what that measurement is.

How do you mark a circle in wood? ›

Draw a Large Circle - YouTube

How do you measure and cut angles for trim? ›

Accurately Cut Mitered Trim Without Using Measuring Tools - YouTube

How do you ensure your measurements are accurate in carpentry? ›

5 Techniques for Better Accuracy In Your Wood Shop
  1. Use accurate measuring tools.
  2. Mark thinner lines.
  3. Line up your blade properly.
  4. Use stop blocks.
  5. Use the “Cut Matching” technique.
  6. >> Sign up below and I'll send you some great emails to help you grow your woodworking skills.

Why are measuring and marking tools in carpentry necessary? ›

Measuring and marking tools are common to multiple trades and ensure accuracy and quality craftsmanship in the building and construction process.

How do you measure fire wood? ›

Firewood is generally sold using a volume measurement. Terms used to describe the volume of wood are cord, face cord, fireplace cord, and rick. A cord is a neatly stacked pile of wood measuring 4 feet by 8 feet with each piece of wood 4 feet in length.

How do you cut wood exactly the same length? ›

If you start changing patterns, you can start changing the length of the wood you're cutting. The second way to cut multiple pieces to exactly the same length is to lay them down on a bench top, square up the ends, and clamp them together. Measure and mark all four together, then cut all four pieces at once.

Why is it important to measure the wood or plywood accurately before cutting? ›

But before you can break out the power tools and start assembling your woodworking projects, you need to know how to measure, mark, and cut wood properly and precisely – every time. Because if even a single piece of paper can fit between two pieces of joined wood, the glue bond isn't as strong as it could be.

How much length does a 45 degree cut add? ›

If the molding width is 3 inches, you'll lose 3 inches on a 45-degree miter cut. Another way of saying this is the outside of the rail will be 3” longer than the inside of the rail. The formula, then, is 8 ends x 3” molding width, or 24 inches.

How do you know which way the grain goes on wood? ›

Reading Wood Grain Direction - 2 Minute Tuesday - YouTube


1. How to cut wood accurately the first time
2. Simple way to Measure for Cutting Wood
(MasterMind HandyMan)
3. Tips for Woodworking Measurements and Layouts
4. 5 Tips For MORE ACCURATE CUTS! (On Any Saw--Make More Accurate Cuts)
(The Honest Carpenter)
5. Accurately Cut Mitered Trim Without Using Measuring Tools
6. Scribe Wood to Brick Perfectly - Carpentry Trick
(Finish Carpentry TV)

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