Anyone worth their salt in the world of building stuff has heard the old English proverb, "Measure twice, cut once". Wiktionary states it plainly:
One should double-check one's measurements for accuracy before cutting a piece of wood; otherwise it may be necessary to cut again, wasting time and material.Of course it makes sense, but whenever I get a chance to not use a tape measure, I take it. I scribe lines, use story sticks, and pieces of scrap wood to transfer cut lines. Don't get me wrong, I can read a tape; I know my fractions,...honest. I even use a handy construction calculator to solve complex equations accurately. These alternate methods are just very accurate and very fast. Tom Silva of This Old House does it all the time; he knows a thing or two about building stuff.
In working on the front facia replacement project, I found that copying the exact miters and angles from the original boards was inaccurate. The original boards were warped, dry-rotted, and had shrunk. With one side of the garage face complete and installed, I took a piece of scrap up to the peak and scribed the cut line with a compass. By holding the compass at a steady angle and sliding the point along the existing edge, it draws (scribes) an accurate line, no measuring, no angle gauge, no protractor.
|The Compass: It ain't just for drawin' circles anymore|
|If you squint, you can see the miter saw. It's in another zip code, but mail still gets there in a few days.|
I had not set up my saw station to cut 16 foot boards. To fit, I had to open the door to the house and let precious, sweet, air-conditioned coolness, leak unchecked into the neighborhood. Sweetie gave me the skunk eye and waived the checkbook at me. Naturally, I said "Baahhhh!" and waived her off, I had sawdust to spray! I lopped the end off.
Next, I clamped the big board in place on the house, letting it run long, past the 45 degree miter at the end. I used another piece of scrap, with a pre-cut 45 degree miter, to precisely line up the joint and traced a line on the big board at the end of the scrap piece. It was easy to use the scrap as a template and precisely trace the miter cut line back on Terra firma, in the driveway. After another trip into the miter station, I triumphantly, slung the fresh trimmed board on my shoulder, scurried up the ladder and fit it into place. What the...
|A slap in the facia|
...two feet short! Two feet?!!! In a monumental feat of dumb-assery, I had engaged an expensive, 12-inch carbide-tipped tool of high-tech, precision-guided cutting technology,... on the wrong damn pencil line! It was the original line drawn against the butt end of the scrap. Laying discarded on the out-feed side of the blade was a shiny new piece of scrap with the actual cut line still intact. I had forgotten my normal practice of putting an X on the "no-cut" line. Since there were neighborhood children playing in the vicinity, I managed to choke back an especially colorful expression of my frustration before it left my lips. The ears of the cosmos were spared this day.
Unfortunately, my tool collection does not include a board stretcher. A seam on the front of the house would look bad and not age well, so it's back to the store for a new $20 board.
Please don't tell Tom Silva.