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Transferring A Line

1466 Views 10 Replies 11 Participants Last post by  startingfromscratch
I've always had trouble accurately transferring a line from the face of a board to the edge(s) or vice versa. If I start on one face, transfer all the way around the board using a square, I'll usually be off by at least 1/8", probably more.

Other than purchasing a saddle square from Lee Valley, does anyone have any secrets/tips on how to accurately transfer a line? Of course some of my problem might be my aging eyes (do you suppose?).

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What's wrong with purchasing a saddle square from Lee Valley? I've got one, and it's about the greatest invention since the wheel.
cut your board square. LOL Board has to have two paralell edges, typically one edge is ran on the jointer to flatten the face, and then the other side is ran through the planer. this will make the edges parallel to one another. Then you can run the trued up edge along the jointers fence flat, and true up the adjacent face, and then parallel it with the planer. Then you should have a perfectly square board, and when you run your line it should be perfect.
Be more careful, but if you can't see good enuf, nothing but glasses will fix that, if you're lucky.
if you are always off, maybe your square isn't square. Framing squares are notorius for being off.
Here's what I do.

When making the mark around the board, I start with the pencil at the edge away from me and the point of the pencil "over the edge" of the piece. Then draw the line towards me, along the edge of the square. Next, rotate the piece towards me so that the edge- that was where the pencil started- is now closest to me. The fact that the pencil started "over the edge" means it actually made a small mark on the side of the piece that was adjacent to the surface on which the line was drawn. The small mark serves as an alignment point for the square- to draw the layout line on the next side. Repeat the process, always starting with the pencil "over the edge". One additional step you can do is place the point of the pencil on the small mark (made by the pencil on the adjacent side) and then bring the square to the pencil point. This takes the guess work out of locating the square and pencil. If your square is accurate and you take your time you should drawing lines that meet exactly when you get all the way around the piece.
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I dont know the condition of your workshop, but if your stock has been machined correctly and your marking tools are in good shape I found it really helpful to use local task lighting when applying layout lines, and of course mark from the face and face edge I assume thats the convention used where you live.

AS lew said
bring the square to the pencil point.
keep your square on the same edge and side ( left or right ) and mark both faces from that edge .
the more you move the board and the square around , it gets a different reference point to work from .
Mate, the thickness of the pencil line will exagerate the offset if you maintain the error. Try putting the pencil in the centre of the existing line and place the square against the pencil. Practice this for a while and adjust as necessary until you find the position that suits you. Be Square and Be Straight.

I cut the thing twice and its still too damned short.
Do a lot of folks use the saddle square? I just recently was playing with one and really thought it was neat…but also maybe another gizmo for something I don't need a new tool to do. Thoughts?
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