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Marking your wood projects

Clever tips for measuring and marking your wood

  • Make Your Mark

    As you cut the pieces for a project, you often lay them down around the workshop and sometimes don't return to them for a day or two. The result? You forget which pieces have been planed, which board you intended to become Part A, and so on. To avoid this problem, develop a sure-fire system for marking your pieces as you work. That way, you eliminate any confusion whatsoever.

    Here's a selection of useful marking methods, the same ones we use when building projects in the WOOD® magazine shop. You can use a pencil on surfaces still to be sawn, planed, or jointed. Because chalk can be removed more easily, it ranks as a better choice for fully machined parts prior to final sanding.

  • Marking your wood projects

    For projects with alphabetized pieces, use letters to match the materials list and drawings in the article. Even when you build from your own design, it helps to letter your drawings and project parts. Without such a system, it's easy to cut a part to the wrong size.

  • Marking your wood projects

    Sometimes, the grain pattern dictates the best orientation for planning or jointing a board. After you determine which face or edge you wish to machine, make a pencil mark on the end grain near the face slated for removal by the planer or jointer.

  • Marking your wood projects

    When squaring up a workpiece, keep track of your progress with a few quick marks. Make a distinctive mark on the first jointed face, such as the pigtail shown here. With that face against the fence, joint an edge and draw two lines to indicate the 90° intersection. Now, you're set to rip and plane the remaining surfaces.

  • Marking your wood projects

    Each of these chalked arrows points to the face side of a part. Work with the face up during all machining operations, and everything (such as these mortises) will align during assembly.

  • Marking your wood projects

    After jointing and planing your boards, arrange them to get the best grain match when you prepare to glue up a panel.

  • Marking your wood projects

    Then, mark them as shown to avoid an assembly mix-up. If you're sorting stock for more than one panel, mark the second grouping with a double line, as shown below, a triple line for a third panel, and so on.

    We invite you to hop on over to WOOD's Top Shop Tip forum. The shop tips forum is for you to share your shop tips that might be of benefit to other woodworkers. Our tips editor, periodically reviews all of the tips posted here for publication, and all tips are eligible to win our Top Shop Tip $250 tool prize, as-well-as $100 per published tip awarded in each issue of WOOD magazine

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