20 Must-Have Marking and Measuring Tools for Carpenters

Measuring Tools for Carpenters

It is easy to believe that all measuring tools for woodworking are alike.

After all, their basic function is to measure surfaces for cutting, drawing, shaping, and the like.

However, when you step back and see the sheer number of different types of measuring tools used by woodworkers and carpenters, then you have to consider why they all exist.

For someone who is new to woodworking, choosing the right measuring tool may seem quite daunting.

In this article, you will get a much better sense of what the basic measuring tools are, how they function, and what specific jobs are they designed to carry out.

Best Carpenter Measurement Tools

Not only the carpenters but even experienced woodworkers may benefit from a better understanding of the different marking and measuring tools that are available and are listed here.

So, check them out and get the ones you do not have in your toolbox.

measuring tools in woodworking and carpentry

1) Calipers

Calipers are a set of jaws in which the ends are brought together to measure certain objects.

The distance between the ends of the jaws tells you what the overall measurement is.

Some calipers come with a sliding rule scale while others offer a digital screen that provides the precise measurement.

2) Combination Square

A popular tool that lets you measure flat surfaces, the combination square has an adjustable head.

This allows the square to measure machinery and to be used on joinery.

Combination squares can be found from 4” in length up to 12” and more.

3) Folding Rule

For longer distances that a measuring tape is not well-suited, the folding rule works quite well.

Because there is no hook at the end such as you find with measuring tape, the result will be a more accurate measurement.

4) Framing Square

When you need to measure a corner, the framing square is the perfect tool.

Consisting of two arms that are normally 24” and 16” in length, the framing square is an L-shaped tool that works perfectly when you must make 90-degree measurements.

The framing square also comes in smaller sizes as well.

5) Measuring Tape

Arguably the most recognizable of all measuring tools used by woodworkers, you will often see this on the belt or in the toolbox of a woodworker.

They come in different sizes to be used for different jobs.

In most cases, this will be the first measuring tool you will reach for when a measurement is needed.

6) Mechanical Pencil

Different than a standard pencil because the line it makes is considerably thinner.

This allows you to mark workpieces for drilling, sizing, and cutting with greater accuracy.

7) Miter Hook

When you need to measure the dimensions of a mitered piece, then the miter hook is for you.

You can hook a retractable tape measure into the groove provided by the hook so you can measure with ease.

8) Moisture Meter

To avoid shrinkage, the moisture in the wood must be measured to ensure that it is not significantly different compared to other pieces of wood that can be joined together.

When the moisture level is the same, then the shrinkage is even.

When it is far apart, then the differences in shrinkage can tear apart wood that was otherwise joined together.

The moisture meter measures the moisture levels to ensure that it is roughly the same as all wood that is being put together.

9) Mortise Gauge

If you are making a parallel line for cutting, then you will need a mortise gauge.

The pin marks the wood while the thumbscrew locks the sliding mortise into place.

10) Plumb Bob

This tool goes back thousands of years to ancient Egypt.

It is basically a string with a weight on the end suspended from a stick or level.

When in use, the vertical line of the string is compared to the vertical line of the structure.

This allows you to see if the line of your workpiece or structure is straight. If not, you can make the adjustments.

best marking tools in carpentry

11) Quick Corners

When you need to mark angles and radii on workpieces, the quick corners can do the job.

Similar to using a round object to draw a circle by tracing its outline, the quick corners let you make outlines on surfaces so that you can use tools like routers to make the cuts.

12) Ruler Stop

You can now ensure that the cuts and holes you make in the material are accurate thanks to the ruler stop.

This is normally a stainless-steel attachment placed on a steel ruler that locks into the desired position so you can start marking off your measurements with ease.

13) Short Rule

As the name suggests, this is a ruler that is normally 6” in length or possibly less.

You can carry this around in your pocket, so you can make quick measurements without the need for measuring tape.

14) Sliding T-Bevel

To measure and mark angles on your workpiece, the sliding T-bevel lets you do so easily.

If you want to duplicate an angle, it is easy to use the sliding T-bevel to initially mark and then transfer that angle to another surface.

15) Spirit Level

This lets you know how to level the surface is when installing projects such as counters, tables, or cabinets.

It’s pretty easy to read. You place the level flat on the surface.

If the bubble is between the middle lines, then the surface is level. If not, you can make the adjustments so that the project is level.

16) Steel Rule

A basic steel rule (both a 6” and a 12” rule) is a must-have marking tool for carpenters and woodworkers.

You should get the ones that come with etched markings as they are more accurate and reliable than the ones with stamped markings.

Make sure to get a matte or satin finished rule along with a combination square head for better usage and performance.

17) Try Square

The try square looks similar to a framing square but is generally smaller in size.

The wooden handle serves as a lip on each side of the blade which allows it to rest on the surface.

18) Universal Angle Guide

If you want to mark an original angle, not copy or duplicate one, then the universal angle guide is the answer.

This is often used with a miter gauge to measure angles with a workpiece.

Angles can be measured off from 0 up to 180 degrees.

19) 9” Protractor Square

This may be the perfect size for a protractor square for use as a bevel gauge.

The miter saw can be adjusted thanks to using this measuring tool, so you can get the proper angle.

20) 12” Adjustable Hook Rule

If you need to make a measurement from an overhanging edge, then this is the tool for you.

The hook can be repositioned along the end which allows you to work with thinner materials.


Using the right tool for the right job is more than an axiom, it is how to get the job done correctly.

The dimensions of the components must be matched, or they will not work together.

The result will be, projects that fall apart because they do not match. This is why having the right measuring tool is so important.

Because even state-of-the-art power tools are not going to help if the basic measurements are wrong.

You can start with measuring tape and then purchase the measuring tools needed to do different tasks in your workshop. 

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