A good measuring tool is crucial for getting the most out of your more sophisticated and expensive tools. Inaccurate measurements from low-grade devices can potentially ruin a project from the outset.
In this guide we will take a look at some of the best measuring tools available that will make a big difference to your finished results.
Types of measuring tool
A good quality measuring tool will not only be highly accurate, but will also last for many years. As for the most important and versatile measuring devices you’ll ever add to your toolbox, you’ll rarely find a carpenter or tradesman who doesn’t rely on the following:
By far the most iconic, important and instantly recognisable of measuring tools, the tape measure is an absolute must. Anyone who relies on tape measures for important projects is advised to use just one primary tape only. This is because you’ll occasionally encounter discrepancies from one tape to the next, which could compromise the quality and accuracy of the final result.
In terms of length, it’s highly unlikely you’ll need anything more than a standard 16-foot tape for all everyday applications in the workshop.
If there’s one measuring tool it’s essential not to compromise on quality, it’s the spirit level. In terms of both accuracy and consistency, it’s essential to opt for a high-quality level that you can rely on. Low cost spirit levels may be misaligned by even a fraction of a degree, which can be enough to totally skew your results.
A framing square is an exceptionally important and versatile tool for keeping right angles as accurate as possible. Framing squares are used in various forms of carpentry including cabinet design and assembly, holding the materials and objects in place throughout the assembly process.
Various sizes are available, though the 24 inch by 16 inch framing square is sometimes referred to as the ‘standard’ in cabinetry. Used appropriately, framing squares make it quick and easy to create and maintain near perfect right angles.
Relatively similar in nature to its counterpart above, a try square is also used to ensure right angles are as flawless and consistent as possible. The difference is that a try square consists of a wooden handle and a thin metallic blade, which is used to measure and assess the trueness of the right angle.
You’ll rarely find a carpenter’s toolbox that doesn’t feature plenty of these – perhaps one of the most versatile accessories of all. Primarily used to check square edges and flat surfaces, the combination square is also used for calibrating or checking essential machinery. More often than not, carpenters will carry an extensive collection of combination squares for different applications, with sizes that range from around 4 inches to 12 inches.
Carpentry isn’t exclusively about 45-degree and 90-degree angles. Woodworkers need to perform and work with angles across the entire spectrum, which is where sliding T-bevels excel. The blade can be adjusted, providing the flexibility needed to accurately measure all types of angle.
Measuring tapes are perfect for measuring large areas. But when you’ve simply a small measurement to take, it’s so much easier for a short rule – a 6-inch flat ruler, which is usually made of metal. When working with such an intricate tool, it’s absolutely essential to ensure its measurements are 100% accurate across every increment.
How to use measuring tools
The exact guidelines for using each of these measuring tools are unique to that particular tool. Nevertheless, there are a few universal pointers that apply to all types of measuring jobs when working on important projects:
- Take your time as attempting to rush this step can lead to disappointing results
- Measure twice or even three times to ensure the accuracy of your measurements
- Ask someone to check your measurements or angles if you’re not 100% convinced
- Upgrade to a higher quality measuring tools with more accurate measurements
All simple and straightforward tips that could add up to a big difference.