Why Numbers can Hurt Your Finish Carpentry

January 27, 2017 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ Furniture

Finish carpentry is all about precision, so it makes sense that before you begin you’d break out a tape measure and set to finding the most exact measurements possible for each cut. Right? Well, as it turns out numbers can be a detriment to you when you need to do precision work. Instead, work with known dimensions if you want your project to turn out alright. Here’s why this works.


Holding a tape measure in place, and at a proper angle so as not to affect the measurement, is a difficult task for anyone even with a partner to help. Instead, use a rigid rule that won’t bend or flex. There are too many ways for the lip of your tape measure to bend or change shape that you’re measuring. That will throw off your entire measurement.

A rigid rule gives you plenty of flexibility to measure the length you need so long as you’re working with a board under 6 feet. Of course, using a tape measure is unavoidable in some situations. Still, it’s helpful to try and use the rigid rule as often as possible, marking your board where the cuts need to be to fit the proportions you want.

Small Cuts

When you need to make small measurements for cuts, you should use a block of known dimensions that you can refer to. A good one to fall back on is the carpenter’s pencil, which is ¼” thick and makes the perfect spacer on a deck. Learning to recognize everyday objects you can use to stand in for precise measurements will be a huge help over time.