To avoid wastting wood and ensure quality results, every woodworker should develop good habits for measuring and marking cuts. Read the following five pointers to find out how well you "measure up" in this area.
Measuring and marking
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For measurements less than 1', we suggest that you use a rigid metal rule. Unlike a tape measure, a metal rule will lie flat on your workpiece, won't flex, and doesn't have a riveted end.

For measurements greater than 1', a trusty tape measure works fine. Just remember that two tape measures often will give you two different measurements. So, always use the same tape measure throughout the construction of a project. If you and someone else are working on the same project, both of you should use the same brand and length of tape measure. It's a good idea to double-check their accuracy by laying them side by side, as shown above left, to make sure that they measure the same.

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When cutting pieces to length, always square one end before you mark anything. Never mark both ends for length before cutting–you double your chance for error.

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The riveted end on a tape measure can contribute to inaccuracy if its rivet holes become elongated over time. Unless you're certain that the end of your tape measure is dead-on, you should avoid using it. Instead, line up the 1" mark with the squared end of your workpiece, and then add 1" from the reading on your tape when marking the other end of the cut.

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Try to get into the habit of using a mechanical pencil for marking tasks. Its fine lead gives you a narrow line that leaves little doubt where a cut should fall, mark after mark.

Such a pencil can be bothersome if you continually break the lead. To avoid this, hold the pencil at an angle rather than vertically.

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Whenever possible, use a square to mark your pieces for length. This way, you will have a straight mark perpendicular to the edge that's easier to accurately split with your blade.

Before doing this, you need to accurately mark the location of the square's blade. Do this by making a V-shaped mark with its point at the exact measurement on the tape as shown below. You won't lose track of this mark if you glance away for any reason.