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Old 04-06-2012, 04:39 PM   #1
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When measuring/cutting lumber


This is a silly question but I never seem to be able to get this right.

So when measuring a piece of lumber with a measuring tape and marking a line, where should the line go according to the measuring tape's line? Assume a pencil that may be thicker than the measuring tape line. Do I align the start of the line with the start of the measuring tape line, do I center it?

And when cutting, do I cut right on the line, next to the line? Ex: should the line be included as part of the lumber piece that is used, or should it be part of the piece being cut?

Is there a standard on how this is done? It ocured to me when cutting 1x2's for some shelving strips and I ended up being a little off. Not a huge deal for what I was doing, but it would be if I was doing crown molding or something.

Also how do I make sure my mitre saw is actually cutting 90 degrees? There is lines that indicate, but there is no "click" mechanism or anything so I still have to somewhat eye ball it. Makes for some slightly crooked cuts.

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Old 04-06-2012, 06:22 PM   #2
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When measuring/cutting lumber


Center the pencil line to the ruler mark and split the line as you cut---A good carpenter gets in the habit of adding a little tick mark to the pencil mark---tick mark on the waste side of the cut-

This has two advantages---you will remember to cut on the waste side and avoid cutting your work piece short---
and you avoid cutting on a black dirt mark instead of your pencil mark.

Furnature makers and some trim guys use a marking knife instead of a pencil---finer mark--Mike---

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Old 04-06-2012, 06:40 PM   #3
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When measuring/cutting lumber


yup.. always leave the line on. barely touching it with the blade.. sometimes if a measurement is between the lines i will just cut the line off or split the line with the saw.. the more practice you get the better you will get with measurements..

at times its actually easier to not even bother with the tape measure also i put the peice of wood in place full length and mark it in place.. i do it all the time for trim work
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Old 04-06-2012, 07:42 PM   #4
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When measuring/cutting lumber


This will sound rather basic---but always check the tip of your tape measure---a bent tip will throw off your measurement---and tips get bent frequently!
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Old 04-06-2012, 08:00 PM   #5
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When measuring/cutting lumber


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Originally Posted by oh'mike View Post
This will sound rather basic---but always check the tip of your tape measure---a bent tip will throw off your measurement---and tips get bent frequently!
Actually I noticed mine is a little loose so that's a good point... I always use the same tape throughout the process, but yeah I should maybe try to see if I can fix that. Can probably just hammer down the rivets so it holds tighter.

Also, I learned to not rely on the laser of a mitre saw. Mine seems to be off by at least 5mm especially on angle cuts. One thing I was doing though is cutting directly on the line.. so I should keep the whole line as part of the piece I want then.
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Old 04-06-2012, 11:47 PM   #6
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When measuring/cutting lumber


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Originally Posted by Red Squirrel View Post
This is a silly question but I never seem to be able to get this right.

So when measuring a piece of lumber with a measuring tape and marking a line, where should the line go according to the measuring tape's line? Assume a pencil that may be thicker than the measuring tape line. Do I align the start of the line with the start of the measuring tape line, do I center it?

And when cutting, do I cut right on the line, next to the line? Ex: should the line be included as part of the lumber piece that is used, or should it be part of the piece being cut?

Is there a standard on how this is done? It ocured to me when cutting 1x2's for some shelving strips and I ended up being a little off. Not a huge deal for what I was doing, but it would be if I was doing crown molding or something.

Also how do I make sure my mitre saw is actually cutting 90 degrees? There is lines that indicate, but there is no "click" mechanism or anything so I still have to somewhat eye ball it. Makes for some slightly crooked cuts.
You need a sharp pencil. Even a carpenter's pencil should not be that much larger than the markings on a tape.

When you cut, cut on the waste side of the line so that the blade's thickness does not come off of your work piece. Try to split the line or leave it on (although no more). It's better to cut things slightly longer than shorter.

To check you saw is cutting 90 degrees, set your saw to 90, put a square on your saw's base and see how your blade lines up.

A tape being loose shouldn't matter if you only use one tape.
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Old 04-07-2012, 12:00 AM   #7
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When measuring/cutting lumber


Buy youself a speed square for cheaking the settings on the saw.

The end of a tape measure is loose for a reason. If the end is butted up againt something instead of hooking the blade on a piece it moves just enough to make up for the thickness of the hook, so your mark is not off by the thickness of the hook.
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Old 04-07-2012, 07:01 AM   #8
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When measuring/cutting lumber


Some instead of a line make a < and cut right on the tip of it.
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Old 04-07-2012, 07:51 AM   #9
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When measuring/cutting lumber


Crayons, carpenter pencils, #2 pencils, mechanical pencils, chalk lines, scribes, knives, etc.; many of us have all of them, and use all of them, depending on the accuracy that is required for the task at hand. When framing, a carpenter pencil and tape measure works great. On finish work, a #2 pencil often works, but a piece of masking tape, or I prefer 3M Postit tape, a scale, and a mechanical pencil can really tighten up the tolerances. Learn to build your own tools, jigs, fixtures, whatever, as you go; often times you can save time and aggrevation by taking the time to set a guide, stop, or whatever in place, and quickly start cutting everything to the same exact length or width. A measuring device is sometimes the last thing that you need in order to get a perfect fit; carry your stock to the place where it goes, or use a piece of scrap 1x2 or whatever to transfer the measurement. Always hold whatever guide you are using as firmly in place as possible, so you know that your line is at or beyond the length that you need, not under it, and then, based on the accuracy that you need, you learn to cut the line for a good fit, save the line for a snug fit, or slightly cross the line for a comfortable fit.
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Old 04-07-2012, 07:56 AM   #10
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When measuring/cutting lumber


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Some instead of a line make a < and cut right on the tip of it.
That's standard practice when marking steel---often using a carbide scribe
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Old 04-07-2012, 03:21 PM   #11
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When measuring/cutting lumber


Thanks for the tips, I'll be keeping these in mind when I start working on my computer desk. Most of the projects I've done so far accuracy did not really matter but for this it will matter more.

I guess if I need more than one piece the same size, I can always use the first one as a template too and then draw the line, now in that case I'd want to cut on the line then right? It's starting to click more now, it's all common sense really, now that I think about it.
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Old 04-07-2012, 06:04 PM   #12
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When measuring/cutting lumber


Yes, in a case like that, you would cut the line. That is a good example though of when I would use a stop, in order to ensure that all of the pieces are the same length. It doesn't need to be anything fancy; a piece of scrap and a clamp work well.
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Old 04-08-2012, 12:44 AM   #13
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When measuring/cutting lumber


And always use the same piece as the template if making multiples. It is amazing how the length can grow.
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Old 04-08-2012, 06:07 PM   #14
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When measuring/cutting lumber


When accuracy is paramount;
- Use a very sharp pencil
-Mark the board with a small tick mark with a slashing tail to show the waste side.
-If there is any doubt as to how much of the line to cut off, simply put your tape back on it and see just how much needs to be removed.

When two seasoned carpenters are working with each other it is very common to hear one say "Take the line", or "leave the line" when one is cutting the other's marked board.
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Old 04-08-2012, 10:43 PM   #15
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When measuring/cutting lumber


If you miscut a board and cut it to short, here is one way to save the board.
http://www.finehomebuilding.com/item...n#comment_list

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