Measuring Tools

*We may earn a commission for purchases made using our links. Please see our disclosure to learn more.

Measuring tools are essential to ensure precision and accuracy in various woodworking tasks. They also come in various forms to cater to different tasks and applications.

Below are some common measuring tools for woodworking:

Tape Measure

The tape measure is a portable tool with a flexible and retractable ribbon or strip made of metal or plastic that can be used to measure distances, lengths, as well as dimensions. They usually use different units of measurements including inches, feet, centimeters, and meters. 

Tape measures come in different materials and serve various purposes.

  • Cloth Tape: Made of linen cloth, this type of tape measure is light and handy but will wear out easily
  • Metallic Tape: Metallic tape measures rely on copper wires so they are less vulnerable to damage.
  • Steel Tape: Steel tape measures are made of steel ribbon. They are available in lengths of 1, 2, 10, 30, and 5 meters.
  • Invar Tape: An invar tape measure is made of the alloy invar, a combination of steel and nickel. Available lengths are 30, 50, and 100 meters.

Steel Ruler

Also known as a steel straightedge, a steel ruler is made of stainless steel or other durable materials. This is necessary for providing accurate measurements, drawing straight lines, and checking a surface’s flatness. Moreover, the heavy-duty steel ruler is common in various fields such as woodworking, construction, engineering, as well as drafting, among others.

These measuring tools come in various lengths, ranging from a few inches to several feet. They also have markings in both metric (millimeters and centimeters) and imperial (inches) units.

Combination Squares

Combination squares are versatile measuring and marking tools for woodworking. They consist of a ruler (or blade) and a head that users can adjust to various angles.

Here are the uses of combination squares.

  • Marking right angles: The tool’s most common use is to mark right angles for cutting or joining materials.
  • Measuring: Used as a ruler for measuring dimensions and distances.
  • Depth gauge: Some combination squares come with a scribe or a knife attachment. This turns it into a depth gauge, a tool for marking the depth for drilling holes.
  • Center finding: Woodworkers can set the square’s head at 4 degrees and align it with a corner to locate the center of a workpiece.
  • Protractor: With its adjustable head, the combination square also works as a protractor. This is essential for measuring and marking angles beyond 90 and 45 degrees.
  • Checking flatness: A combination square’s level bubble helps in ensuring that a surface is flat or level.

Scribing Tool

Scribing tools are devices for marking or scoring lines on surfaces. The primary purpose of these measuring tools are to create accurate and straight lines for cutting and fitting, as well as marking measurements. 

Below are the different types of scribing tools:

  • Scratch Awl: The scratch awl consists of a pointed metal tip attached to a handle. The tip is for scratching or scoring lines on wood metal, or other materials.
  • Marking Gauge: Also known as a scratch gauge, a marking gauge is a tool for marking out lines for cutting and other operations.
  • Beam Compass: While not a traditional scribing tool, a beam compass is also effective for scribing circles or arcs on surfaces. 
  • Carpenter’s Pencil: Also not a traditional scribing tool, a carpenter’s pencil has a flat, wide lead that woodworkers can use to mark lines on wood and other surfaces.
  • Dividers: A divider is a type of compass with two sharp points that craftsmen can use for measuring and transferring distances.
  • Scribing Block (Scriber): Designed for scribing lines onto surfaces, a scribing block has a hardened steel or carbide tip that are adjustable to different lengths.

Miter Gauge

Basically, miter gauges are tools for guiding a workpiece at a precise angle as it is being cut on a table saw or other similar equipment. These measuring tools consist of a flat metal or plastic bar that slides into a slot on the machine’s table. At the end of this bar is a pivoting plate or head that users can adjust to various angles, allowing for accurate crosscuts and angled cuts. 


The caliper is a woodworking measuring tool used for determining the distance between two opposite sides of an object. It is also a fixture in metalworking, engineering, and science, calipers come in different types, each designed for specific applications.

Here are some of the most common types:

  • Vernier Calipers: These measuring tools are traditional type of calipers that use a sliding scale with a main scale and a smaller vernier scale. Basically, the vernier scale allows for highly accurate and precise measurements.
  • Digital Calipers: Some calipers feature a digital display that directly shows the measurement so users won’t have to read from scales.
  • Dial Calipers: Dial Calipers are fitted with a circular dial that has a needle that points to the measurement on a linear scale. They can perform inside and outside measurements.
  • Inside Calipers: Inside calipers can measure the internal dimensions of an object, such as the diameter of a hole.
  • Outside Calipers: Outside calipers can measure the external dimensions of an object, such as the width of a piece of material.
  • Divider Calipers: Divider calipers have two legs and can mark or scribe distances on materials.
  • Odd Leg Calipers: Odd leg calipers (also known as Jenny calipers), can measure and mark off distances that are difficult to access with other types of calipers (e.g. inside corner measurements).

Dial Indicator

The dial indicator is a measurement tool for measuring small distances, variations, or deviations from a reference point. 

This tool consists of a metal housing with a movable plunger or probe at one end and a graduated dial face at the other end. Users can position the plunger against the object, and the dial indicator’s needle points to the measurement on the dial face. 

Dial indicators are also common in industries such as manufacturing, engineering, and metrology. Tasks include taking precision measurements and surface roughness measurements, as well as alignment and setup, to name a few.

Marking Gauge

Marking gauges are measuring tools for marking lines on workpieces to indicate where cuts, joints, or other operations should be performed. 

Basically, the tool consists of a fence (also called a stock) and a marking or cutting element. The fence is a flat piece of metal, wood, or other materials, with one flat side that rests against the edge of the workspace. In addition, the marking element is an adjustable sharp metal point or a cutting wheel attached to the fence.

Sliding T-Bevel

Also known as a bevel gauge or a bevel square, the sliding T-bevel is a versatile tool used for measuring and transferring angles. The tool consists of two main parts: a handle (typically made of wood or plastic), and a blade that can slide within the handle. In addition, the blade has an adjustable pivot point that allows you to set it at different angles. This is essential for cutting a piece of wood at a specific angle.

Moisture Meters

While most measuring tools in woodworking record dimensions and distances, moisture meters evaluates the moisture content of wood. In woodworking, this handheld tool determines the amount of water present in a material. Basically, excessive moisture can cause wood to rot, produce molds, and create structural instability.

Avatar photo

John Friedenbach

My initial goal, to provide a selection of tools, education and plans to the Beginning to Advance Woodworker has not changed. I continue to search the web to find new products and services. To bring those products and services to your attention.

More to Explore

Tape Measures

A tape measure is a flexible ruler used to measure distance or length.

Center Finder

A center finder is a tool or device used to locate the exact center of a circular or cylindrical object.

Bowl Sander

A bowl sander is a tool used for sanding concave or curved wooden surfaces.