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Gift Ideas - Marking and Measuring Tools
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It isn’t always fun and easy to pick out gifts the woodworkers on your list, especially if you're not a woodworker yourself. They have all the expertise - you have all the responsibility.  Ideally, we'd send a team of experts to drop by and size-up your woodworker's shop for areas that could use a little beefing up. We can't, but can make an educated guess or two.

A surprising number of woodworkers amass a sophisticated collection of power tools, clamps, router bits, specialized jigs, and all manner of hand tools designed to saw, plane, abrade, join and otherwise transform pieces of wood. And yet they measure every expensive piece of hardwood that comes through their shop with a beat-up tape measure, and mark their cuts with an inexpensive tool that, if accurately named, would be called a "sort-of square" or a "90-ish degree marking gauge".

In other words, accurate, useful marking and measuring tools are a pretty safe bet for a good many woodworkers. And there is no shortage of them, even in the "stocking-stuffer" range. Here are a few ideas:

The ability to precisely judge squareness is absolutely central to accurate woodworking, and the try square is the woodshop's "authority" on squareness. The "try" in try square actually derives from the fact that the square is used to judge whether an angle is a perfect 90 degrees - you "try" other angles against it to see if they measure-up.

Crown Tools' Mini Try Square and Try-Miter Square are professional class squares, and are guaranteed to measure squareness with state-of-the-art accuracy. Along with that, they're handsome tools - aesthetically, they're just pleasant to have around.  Either one would be a great gift for a woodworker whose skill is on the ascent, and who is coming to the common realization that some of their less-than perfect marking and measuring tools are holding them back.

Another great gift for a woodworker whose projects are demanding more and more accuracy would be any selection from Incra's line of measuring tools.  Incra measuring tools' unique positioning hole system makes measuring and marking accurate lengths easy and foolproof. The positioning hole system is especially appreciated by those of us woodworkers who are “of a certain age”.  It prevents us from having to get our good eye up close and focused on the workpiece to make sure the mark is in the right spot, and not just in the vicinity.  To make matters better, one of Incra's most useful tools, the Incra 18" Precision Rule, is on sale.

You'll also find great deals on other classic measuring and marking tools. The Rosewood Mortise Gauge offered by Rockler is a refined example of a tool that's been around for a long time, and is still preferred for precise layout work. In the same vein, the Marking Gauge / Cutting Gauge set would be perfect for a veneer enthusiast. Crown Tools' T-bevel Sliding Square is another must-have tool for reproducing angles other than 90 and 45 degrees.

Finally, here are a couple of gifts that even woodworkers who seem to have everything may have overlooked:  The Starrett Protractor Angle Finder is a tool that vast numbers of pro finish carpenters would love to (but don't) have in their toolbox. And for cabinetmaker types, the clever EZ-Mark Marking Lines are a unique and useful stocking-stuffer that we'd bet they don't already have.

You can read more about the value of good marking and measuring tools in Rockler’s article, "Marking and Measuring Tool Basics". But this is just one approach to a case of woodworking gift choice anxiety; there are lots more.  Woodworkers are easier to please than you might think. You'd be surprised how much sex appeal a new bar clamp holds for the average woodworker, for example.  The Rockler Gift Guide is great resource if you'd prefer to design your own strategy. On it you'll find something for woodworkers of every kind.

posted on December 7, 2006 by Rockler
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