Marking and Layout Tools

OK, I’ll go down this rabbit hole. These types of tools are very personal to the woodworker / maker. I would be hard pressed to say that one or some are better than others. It’s a trust relationship that we as furniture makers have come to understand. It does not take long for a novice woodworker to figure out that the accuracy of laying out joints can only be achieved by quality tools. For example, the pencil. First, we have the carpenters pencil that we all know and love and probably have an abundance of around our shops. It’s great for marking out 2x4 for a deck, studs for a wall or making a shopping list for the big box stores…but that’s it. The only application for these type a pencils in a furniture shop would be rough layout lines for breaking down lumber. Next up, the old tried and true #2. You know the one we all stuck behind our ear, in our hat or pocket, etc. These were the ones our dad’s used when we were young and he was our Norm Abraham. It never failed, unless the tip broke, was wore down to a carpenters fat line or …or the eraser was gone! I must have twenty five or thirty of these pencils on a shelf in a can and not a one has the eraser. Someone must have made a mistake or two. They are good pencils if the tip is sharp, very sharp. You need to have a nice clear and crisp lines for joinery. Once the tip gets used, the line starts to widen. Not ideal. My choice is a .3 or .5 mechanical pencil. I get very consistent, clear, clear lines. The down side is the eraser.

Next in line, are your squares, combo squares, tri squares, layout rulers, setup blocks, straight edges etc. I bet there is no shortage of these tools in your shop. We seem to collect them over the years. They serve us well, but we have our favorites or some we designate for certain tasks such as mortise and tenon layout, router bit height, table saw fence distance or blade perpendicularity or just drawing a straight line. These are the tools that we treat with a sort of reverence, like my Woodpecker’s 641 square, Incra Precision T-Rules and Starrett 4” Double Square. As mentioned above, a good square or marking layout tool is as only as good as a quality pencil. Setup blocks are some of my favorite tools. They produce rapid repeatability that is guaranteed. They are very simple to use, just add the block thickness to the desired depth and strike your line. Simple and very, very accurate.

Moving on to the marking knife. I have at least 5 and I have a favorite. I believe some are better at some tasks than others. They require some maintenance, sharpening when needed. The bottom line is it all depends on you. What you are comfortable with or what you were taught to use from trade school or your mentor. The blade must be sharp. This allows the blade to sever and cut the wood fibers so the blade does not wonder or stray from the straight edge due to the wood grain. They must be a flat back so it can register against the straight edge or the work piece. The handle must be comfortable in the hand. Make sure that the handle is not completely round… or else it can roll right off your workbench, ask me how I know! Some marking knives come in a left and right version. I am not a big fan of these because you need to buy them in a pair. The length of blade also dictates how thick of a work piece you can mark against. If you routinely work with one inch thick stock and your marking knife blade is only three quarters long…that’s a problem.

So in wrapping up, I just skimmed over the surface of this subject. I did not include all the tools but just some of the basics. I hope you enjoyed this article are were able to find some information useful.

Check us out in the fall 2018 issue of New Pioneer Magazine

Last September of 2017 we made friends with freelance writer Michelle Cerino. Michelle spent most of the day with us talking, asking us questions and diving right into all the tools and machines we use here at Dragonfly Woodworking & Leather. She found out how intimidating all the power tools Patrick uses are. That using a hand plane is hard work, and gratifying all at the same time once you get the hang of it.

Michelle was also hands on in the Leather studio with cutting straps, hand peening copper rivets & using the industrial sewing machine to sew the dragonfly that hangs on our Donna Marie Tote bags, and the new Michelle Marie larger zippered bag.

We enjoyed teaching her all about our line of custom leather work aprons. Walking her through the stages of creating your own. How it starts off with our video chat of wearing the template we send you, then we guide you through placing, marking and sizing of tools and the fit of the apron. Then it is created right here all the way down to the hand peened copper rivets.

It was a great day with Michelle showing her how we take our wood and leather and turn them into custom creations. She was so interested in hearing how we learned what we do, why we work so hard at it and why is a Dragonfly so special to us.

Michelle did a beautiful job on this article of really capturing who we are and why. Thank you again Michelle and New Pioneer Magazine.

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Michelle MelchiorComment
A Sidekick is coming

Another custom creation has happened and will be landing on our website soon. Again my desire to be a minimalist and answer the call for a custom creation has lead us to a new design.
For our maker friends who are maybe not an apron person, or others who like to wear the cargo full length tool pants. We have an option. Actually two options.
This is the Sidekick, and Sidekick XL.
It is a sideleg, holster style tool holder. Made with leather straps for easy on and off. Attaches to the belt you are wearing.  Not the hassle of take your belt off and feed it through the holder and back through your belt loops. It is perfect to put on for a quick repair job. Easy to attach when you get to the site to quote a job and easy off at the end of the day. Designed to include our stainless steel tape measure hook and all leather pockets to hold your most used items. Pencil, marker, cell phone, scratch pad, knife... two sizes to fit your needs.
Perfect for in the shop, out quoting a job, the home repair assistant, DIY person.
XL has a removable / adjustable leg strap to keep your tools close when out and about or climbing a ladder.
I am excited to see them in use. I can picture my Dad using this daily for the home repair and updating he is doing for friends. The perfect helper for the DIYer installing the ceiling fan. The shop helper, keeping your tools close. A great alternative to an apron or tool belt.
 

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Patrick MelchiorComment
Donna Marie Tote
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I tend to be a minimalist or a better description is I  try to live organized with simplicity. If things have a home, it increases the odds of you putting it away and more importantly when you reach for something you can find it immediately.  Again my combined love of custom creating and being organized has lead me to designing the Donna Marie Tote.

I first start off with a canvas mock up of my idea. This Tote bag needed to stand up on it's own, have a safe place for my cell phone, my keys and fit comfortably on my arm and over my shoulder. After many tweaks and changes of the height, width and leather thickness,  a pattern was established. The process is now to move from temporary paper and canvas patterns pieces, to a permanent acrylic pattern to cut and sew from.

In reading "The Story of Us" on our website I tell how I have inherited physical property from my Mother's Shop. I discovered after all the fine tuning of creating the tote bag pattern, I had in my possession for many years now acrylic pieces the exact dimensions I needed for this Tote Bag! At that moment I decided the name of this Tote Bag will be named after my Mother, "Donna" we both have the middle name of Marie so the combination of us both are in the designing of this bag.

This is the first piece in our line of fine handcrafted leather bags and accessories and as always how appropriately it started off with one of our Dragonflies having a part in the designing.

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Our Custom Leather Work Aprons
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A gift to yourself or for your loved one

I love getting a gift for myself or someone else that gives the feeling of this was made for me ! Because I love to give gifts like that and because it is my passion to customize, to fit the body type, personality or to fill multiple purposes our line of custom work apron's were created. We have received a lot of questions on how this process of ordering and getting a custom apron made will happen. It all starts with your order of the weight of leather to fit your work or hobby needs.

Medium weight is great for a broad range of needs, this is really just the tip of the iceberg. Woodworking, Carver, Hair Stylist, Barber, Tattoo Artist, Jeweler, Bartender, Barista, Server, Artist, Groomer, Mechanic, Potter, Chef, Photographer you see how if you have tools for your trade your apron will be your time saver. Your tools will be right at your fingertips. Our Heavy weight Aprons are a great addition and protection for Welders, Metal Fabricators, Blacksmith, Forging... As soon as your order is processed a template of your apron and directions are mailed out to you with samples of leather to feel and see your color choices. Even before you have the finished product in hand you have this packet tied with a leather bow on it to give as a gift.

Then the magic begins with the fitting, we will walk the new apron owner through the process of creating and placing tools and fitting the apron for height, weight and length. The template is then mailed back and your one of a kind apron is made. You can order through our website www.dragonflywoodworking.com or if you are local or see us at a show in person is great too.

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