While working on a project for an upcoming issue of 360 Woodworking, I had plenty of dado layout work to do. As I walked through the process, I realized that I was biting an inch while using a steel rule – that technique is something that I used many years back when I worked in home construction. (Old habits die hard.) I then figured out why I continue the technique even though it’s not as important as it is when using a measuring tape on which the ends become looser over time.
As I worked, I would set the rule 1″ beyond where I needed the next line. Using the above photo as an example, my next layout line was 12″, so I set the rule with 13″ on my last mark. At the end of the rule, I marked the new line at 1″, which provided my 12″ accurate measurement. Because I was laying out for 3/4″ shelves, I then slid down to 1/4″ and made another mark. Not only is my shelf spacing accurate, so is the thickness of my shelf. It was easy to work the entire 87″-tall case side as I laid out the seven shelf locations.
Why not simply use the end of the rule? The quick answers are: I couldn’t lay out the shelf thickness without moving the rule, and sometimes rules are not created equal. Notice the ends on the three rules I have bouncing around my shop.
My guess is that you don’t have rules in your shop that are as off as mine. I should pitch a couple of these in the trash, but I’d rather have something to measure with close at hand. Plus, the top two rules in the photo reside in the recess above my table saw fence.
— Glen D. Huey