Taking accurate measurements is a fundamental skill every woodworker or DIYer, whether amateur and professional, must master. Success in almost every other skill is dependent on this core proficiency. Unfortunately, there are some common bad habits you may unconsciously develop that can lead to poor measurements and bad cuts. That means wasted time, wasted money and a whole lot of frustration!
Here are some of the most common bad measuring habits and how you can break them.
Bending the tape for inside-to-inside measurements
Inside-to-inside dimensions (like the inside of a window frame) can be challenging to accurately measure. The habit of bending the tape measure into the corner and “eyeballing” the measurement can lead to inaccuracies.
Instead, incorporate the width of the tape measure’s base into your measurement. Many tape measures have their base’s width printed on them. Instead of rolling the tape into the corner, get into the habit of adding the width of the tape measure’s base to the measurement instead.
Trusting factory edges
Too many woodworkers assume the end of the board they’re cutting (AKA the factory edge) is perfectly square. Consequently, they measure for cuts without verifying that’s actually the case. Depending on the width of the timber and how out of square the end is, measuring off the edge can lead to inaccurate measurements.
Correct this by routinely checking the factory edge with your speed square. If the edge is out of square, use a mitre saw or circular saw to cut a square edge prior to measuring. Although this extra step isn’t essential for many rough-framing tasks, it can make a big difference in making precise measurements for finish carpentry projects.