Carpentry Measuring Tools

Every carpenter should have carpentry measuring tools to take measurements quickly and accurately. This part in carpentry must be mastered early in the carpenters training. Practice reading the measuring tape to gain skills in fast and precise measuring. Measurements and Tapes. Measurements used in construction in the United States are divided into feet, inches, and usually 16ths of an inch. Most measurements and tapes used by the carpenter have clearly marked increments of 16 inches to help in laying out spaced framing members. Some carpenters prefer the six foot folding rule while others use the pocket ape. The folding ruler sometimes has a metal extension on one end for taking inside measurements. To help the ruler last longer oil the joints occasionally to prevent breaking the ruler when opening and closing it. Pocket tapes are available in 6-30 foot lengths. A hook on the end slides back and forth slightly to compensate for the thickness of its metals when taking outside and inside measurements. Steel Tapes of 50 and 100 foot lengths are commonly used to lay out longer measurements. The end of the tape has a steel ring with a folding hook attached. The hook may be unfolded to go over the edge of an object. Rewind the tape when you are not using it. If the tape is stepped on when using it may snap or become kinked. Keep it out of water. If it gets wet dry it while rewinding. This method works for all tape measures.


Carpenters have to use several different kinds of squares to lay out for square and other angel cuts.

A combination square consists of a movable blade that is one inch wide and 12 inches long, which slides along the body of the square. It is used to lay out or test 90 and 45 degree angels. Hold the body of the square against the edge of the stock and mark along the blade. It can be used as a depth gauge to layout or test the depth of grooves, rabbets, and dadoes. It can be used with a pencil as a marking gauge to draw lines parallel to the edge of the board. Drawing lines in this manor is called gauging lines. Be sure to check the edge of the wood for slivers as well.

Speed Squares

The speed square is one of my most used and loved carpentry measuring tools in carpentry. The speed squares are made of one piece plastic and aluminum alloy and are available in two sizes. They can be used to lay 90 and 45 degree angels and as guides for portable power saws. A degree scale allows angels to be laid out, other scales may be used to lay out rafters.

Framing Squares

The framing square, often called the steel square is a L shaped tool made of thin steel or aluminum. The longer of the two legs are called the blade or body and is two inches wide and 24 inches long. The shorter leg is called the tongue and it is 1 1/2 inches wide and 16 inches long. The outside corner is called the heel.

The framing square has been used for centuries. Entire books have been written about it based on the use of the right angel triangle, many layout techniques have been devised and used throughout the years. Although the techniques, and the scales, tables and graduations retain on the square, are now rarely used, the carpenter once depended on them.

The framing square is one of my favorite carpentry measuring tools as well. On most carpentry jobs carpenters use the framing square for laying out roof rafters, bridging, and stair framing laying out walls and much more.

Basic Carpentry Measuring Tools

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