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Egg Spurt
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There is a reason why a marking knife should be the #1 in a woodworker’s marking tools. A pencil is fine, use them all the time, but a pencil mark has a thickness.
I use a mechanical pencil with very thin leads .02 or something like that. Breaks easy, but with practice you learn to keep just a little bit sticking out from the end. I have a sharp pocket knife as well for very fine cuts..
 
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One trick I learned from some guy online is that you place the pencil tip carefully on the wood per your measurement and then place the straight edge up against the pencil, and then draw the line. If you haven't learned this trick, you tend to place the straight edge where you think it should be and then put the pencil up against it. That introduces more error, maybe 1/32" or more.

My personal preference is to cut so that the line is still visible on the finished piece. Ideally half the line remains and half is removed.

For multiples pieces, I always set up a block to ensure exactly equal lengths. I mean, it rarely matters what the exact measurement is but having all the pieces the same is crucial. I like to feel the ends of the pieces and rub my finger over them. I want to feel no edges at all, meaning no difference in length at all.
 

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How is a V more accurate than a line? You are still eyeballing the position of the blade to the mark and you are at the mercy of the precision of your hand while drawing the V. Also, there is no guarantee of aligning the exact point of the V to the blade.
I was taught to mark vertical at the cut and then V off to the side of cut
I/ to cut right of the mark or \I to cut left of the mark
Especially important if you mark the cut and someone else cuts it

Measure twice is old wives tale, measure once and WRITE IT DOWN! 😂
 

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This might be a stupid question on measuring and cutting but I will ask anyway. Many, many years ago, when I was only elbow height to my own father, he showed me that you measure at least twice and THEN you cut. He also told me that when you draw the 'cut line', that the line 'ends' the piece that you want, so you should always cut just past the line. Made sense so I have always followed that. I recently had a conversation with a neighbor (woodworker) who said he always cuts 'on the line'?? When I asked him why, he answered that with a thin kerf blade it doesn't really matter. He went further to say that he sets his stop blocks up to cut that way as well. Thoughts??
I sometimes do not measure. To cut shelves in dados inside a cabinet, I’ll use 2 sticks, the ends cut like an arrow, long enough for them to reach from side to side and clamp with 2 Spring clamps in the middle. I will make sure this dimension fits all along the dados and tweak it if it gets a little tight. Then take the sticks over to my table saw to set up the fence. It comes out perfectly.
 

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How is a V more accurate than a line? You are still eyeballing the position of the blade to the mark and you are at the mercy of the precision of your hand while drawing the V. Also, there is no guarantee of aligning the exact point of the V to the blade.
A true marking knife is not in the shape of a ‘V’.
It has one side that is flat so you get a true, accurate measurement.
 

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where's my table saw?
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Let's say you need a plywood panel that's 23 3/16" wide.
There are two common ways you can make that cut on the tablesaw:
1. Grab a tape measure, hook the end over the left side near the far end and make a mark at 23 3/36". Align the mark to the right side tooth on the saw blade, bump the fence over and lock it down. Make your cut hoping nothing moved in the process. You are cutting to a mark, not a line.

2. Using a tape measure or a steel measuring scale laid flat on the table, slide the fence over until the right side of a tooth is at 23 3/16" and lock the fence down, Remeasure to insure it locked at 23 3/36". By using a steel scale, you eliminate any error caused by the slide hook on the tape measure. Your are setting the fence to a dimension, not a mark on the panel, saving a step thereby reducing measuring errors.

3. Actually faster than the above methods. If your saw fence front rail has a measuring tape attached and if you have verified it's accuracy, slide the fence and the hairline indicator to the 23 3/16" dimension on the tape, lock the fence and make your cut. This would be using a Biesemeyer type fence and indicator which locks only on the front rail, a common setup in an cabinet shop of years past. New cabinet shops have a sliding table saw which support large panels on the left of the blade. That's essentially a two piece table on the saw, a sliding table and a fixed table.

What constitutes a "mark"? Is it a hash mark about 1/4" long, a "V" pointing to the saved portion, or a line 2" or 3" long, or a hash mark combined with a "V"?
How was the mark made? A pencil, a ball point thin tip, or a traditional Japanese style flat sided marking knife?
By setting the fence with a scale, option 3, there is no issue about splitting the line or mark and which side to cut on.
When cutting by hand or with a circular saw, you have a different set of issues. Do you cut away from the line and plane down to it? OR do you split the line or cut near it as best you can? A circular saw and guide will require two separate measurements, one at either end creating more possibility for measuring errors.

This is why cabinet makers prefer table saws with extended right side tables or sliding tables.
My table saw setup was built with making cabinets in mind as well as not needing to change saw blades for different operations:
Table Automotive design Wood Desk Flooring
 

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Measure twice is old wives tale, measure once and WRITE IT DOWN! 😂
For me, measuring twice has nothing to do with remembering the measurement or marking it correctly on the board, it is more about not making a mistake. And, it's is not always about cutting a board short. While it might waste some time, for me it takes less time than making a mistake and having to cut a new board. I am not likely to measure twice when woodworking, but I often do it with construction when using a tape measure. It's somewhat easy, and sometimes necessary, to be on the "wrong" side of a tape measure (the top side); what is actually measures 38-1/2" you see as 39-1/2" (because you are used to measuring left to right and now you are measuring right to left). Some companies make "left handed" tape measures. They are supposedly for left-handed users, but I see it more as the direction in which you are pulling the tape. I'm left handed and have no problem using a typical "right handed" tape measure. I think the idea of having both types would not work for me, I'd always be picking up the wrong one or totally messing up my measuring and marking! Someone (Stanley?) sold a tape measure that had the numbers printed on both edges of the tape so that one of them was always right side up no matter which way you pulled it. I bet it took some getting used to use that.
 

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where's my table saw?
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Measuring twice certainly won't hurt. However, measuring twice in succession may just lead to making the same error in succession.
If you used a different device or method for the second measurement, that would be a better approach in my opinion.
It's always better to be safe than sorry especially when dealing with high value objects, materials, dangerous animals, or the opposite sex. ;)
 

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I have one of those tapes you can write on the side. I forget about that feature every time.

How many if you know your fence is calibrated perfectly and still measure to the blade? 🖐
 

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mike44
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No, with me, it’s measure, take to saw, check again, go check the cut list, check it again, cut, then realize you burned an inch on the tape but still cut it an inch short, AND ITS THEN LAST PIECE OF WALNUT WITH THE NICE GRAIN , YOU IGNORAMOUS!!

Calmate, calmate (No KarriB I'm not drinking wine…..yet).

Seriously, this is far from a stupid question, @oldpops. Proper layout and dimensioning are the foundation of good craftsmanship.

There is a reason why a marking knife should be the #1 in a woodworker’s marking tools. A pencil is fine, use them all the time, but a pencil mark has a thickness. How do you make a mark? When you mark a measurement off a ruler, a lot of people make a tick mark. Watch a carpenter he makes a ”V” which is actually more accurate.

How do you strike a line? Many people line up a square to the pencil mark and strike the line. OK, but a more accurate way is put the point of the pencil on the mark, slide the square til it contacts the pencil, then strike the line.

Back to thickness. You always cut on the waste side of the line, but on the line you never leaving a space. Again, you’re leaving the thickness of the line. So what is the final dimension? What you measured + the thickness of the line. It may seem like splitting hairs, but in fine woodworking it matters, this is why a knife line is superior.

You mentioned stop blocks. That brings up another important fundamental - consistent dimensions is much more important than an exact numerical dimension. In furniiture making dimensions are really just suggestions - you get corresponding parts equal and then fit is all that matters. Newbies get themselves very frustrated and drive themselves crazy trying to cut every part to the exact dimension on a plan.

Stop blocks and gang cutting of parts achieve consistent dimensions. You never, ever cut like parts individually!

While I‘m at it, I’ll mention two other things, tape measures and story poles.

Always use the same tape throughout a project. When it gets down to the nitty gritty like marking out joinery never use a tape, use a ruler. Get some good easy to read hook rulers are really nice to have. Avoid machinist rulers totally.

Learn about story poles and use them. It takes a lot of error out of marking dimensions.

Hope this helps.
I agree with your post but add, only use a marking knife across the grain. I use a scribe with the grain as it does not follow the grain . Actually I use a scribe both across and with the grain. Marking knives pulled with the grain often wander away from the straight edge because of the grain itself. Also cut a rabbit in the stop block so the dust does not accumulate.
mike
 

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I have one of those tapes you can write on the side. I forget about that feature every time.

How many if you know your fence is calibrated perfectly and still measure to the blade?
I use an Incra LS Positioning fence and setting the blade to a certain measurement is 100% accurate and repeatable. No need to measure unless I used the micro adjuster and need to verify which way I turned it so it gets set back to zero. An Incra fence is unlike every other stock and aftermarket table saw fence.

I use a tape measure to figure out how long to cut something and use that measurement on both the table saw and miter saw.

On the miter saw I use a Kreg fence and use the built in tape and curser to set the stop blocks. I’ll make the initial cut a little long, check it for fit, make an adjustment to stop block, cut again and if it fits just right, I’ll cut all the other pieces that need to be the same length.

If I do measure a piece to fit, it will be with a pencil line guided by the workpiece. If it’s an inside measurement you need to leave the line, if it’s an outside measurement the line needs to be removed.
 

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How is a V more accurate than a line? You are still eyeballing the position of the blade to the mark and you are at the mercy of the precision of your hand while drawing the V. Also, there is no guarantee of aligning the exact point of the V to the blade.
The point of the V is your measurement, that is where you put your square to make your cut line. it is so you don't mark at the wrong end of a not so square mark.
 

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Lots of good info here, what it comes down to in the end is to use a system that you are comfortable with to get accurate cuts every time. If a tape measure is not accurate, either fix it if possible or throw it away!
 

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David - Machinist in wood
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How many if you know your fence is calibrated perfectly and still measure to the blade?
Mine is.

A friend came over to have me cut some pieces for his pedal board that he uses when we play in our Praise Band at church. He was surprised when I didn't use my tape to measure but rather used the fence and rule/tape mounted to the PM66. He asked if I was going to double-check the measurement and I told him no, it's accurate. After cutting the first piece he grabbed the tape measure to check and started laughing, said he'd never seen or used a table saw where that was accurate. He didn't question the next few cuts. :)
 

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where's my table saw?
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Does a dial indicator from rip fence to blade count?
No, not unless you are very precisely aligning the blade to the miter slot, setting up the saw.
Machine shop tools are "overkill" for woodworking, unless in machine setups.
The wood itself will often change dimension as it dries, so no need for .001" precision. JMO
 

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No, not unless you are very precisely aligning the blade to the miter slot, setting up the saw.
Machine shop tools are "overkill" for woodworking, unless in machine setups.
The wood itself will often change dimension as it dries, so no need for .001" precision. JMO
It isn't meant for the wood but for the saw. The wood is what we do to it. But if the day comes when you do need it,and you don't have it.wouldn't it better to have it?
 

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Hi from SC.
When I mark a board for a cut I take a few seconds to align the tape again and find where my desired cut dimension falls on the pencil mark. Then I keep that in mind when setting up the cut. Usually thinking “leave the line” or “keep half” or “cut off”. This works even when the pencil you picked up is not fully sharp.
When setting up table saw built in tape alignment like the Incra you have to figure in blade flex and wobble that is inherent in all blades. Just make test cuts and slide the metal tape to the exact result.
 
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