19 Types Of Measuring Tools For Woodworking & Carpentry – Tools Guide

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We tend to take for granted the different types of measuring tools for woodworking. As a woodworker, you may automatically reach for a tape measure or caliper and start measuring. But, have you ever stopped to think of the countless measuring tools use while working on wood?

For the newbie, all these tools must seem overwhelming. In this article, we take a closer look at the various measuring tools that we can get for working on wood. Even if you are an experienced woodworker, you will probably find the information provided here quite useful. So, read on!

Measuring Tape
Measuring Tape. Image: Wikimedia Commons

Different Types Of Measuring Tools For Woodworking

Measuring Tape

CRAFTSMAN Tape Measure, Self-Lock, 25-Foot (CMHT37225S)
Craftsman Tape Measure. See on Amazon.

Most of you will know about this one, but we felt that we should mention it anyway. A woodworking workshop would be incomplete without one of these. It is the first tool that you are likely to use before you cut anything.


Neiko 01407A Electronic Digital Caliper Stainless Steel Body with Large LCD Screen | 0 - 6 Inches | Inch/Fractions/Millimeter Conversion
Neiko Caliper. See on Amazon.

You can get different variations in calipers. For example, the basic model is a couple of jaws that come together over the diameter of an object. Now, you measure the distance between the two jaws. Then you can get calipers with a sliding ruled scale, a dial caliper or one with a digital screen.

Mortise Gauge

Mortise Gauge Woodworking, Ebony Mortise Square Gauge 6" Sliding Mark Scraper with Brass Screw Type Adjustable Head Meter Carpentry Marker Measuring Tool
Mortise Gauge. See on Amazon.

We use a mortise gauge for marking a parallel line for cutting. The thumbscrew locks the sliding mortise, while we use the protruding pin to mark the wood.

Folding Rule

Klein Tools 910-6 Folding Ruler 6-Foot, Durable Fiberglass, Inside Reading
Klein Tools Folding Ruler. See on Amazon.

If you need to measure longer dimensions, you can use a folding rule. It is very convenient because unlike a measuring tape, it doesn’t have a hook at the end. This makes it more accurate.

Framing Square

Johnson Level & Tool CS5 16-Inch x 24-Inch Aluminum Framing Square
Johnson Level & Tool Framing Square. See on Amazon.

A framing square takes care of the perpendicular corners of your project, especially while assembling it. This is an L-shaped tool with the arms typically 24 inches and 16 inches respectively. Further, you can also get framing squares with smaller dimensions.

Try Square

POWERTEC 80015 Try Square with Hardwood Handle (8") Premium Stainless Steel Ruler – Brass Bound Handle - A Carpenter’S & Machinist’S Essential - The Ultimate Gift for Any Woodworking Shop
PowerTec Try Square. See on Amazon.

Constructed like a framing square, the try square is smaller in size. It has a metal blade fixed on a wooden handle. The purpose of the wooden handle is to serve as a lip on either side of the blade. This way, the wood rests comfortably on the workpiece.

12” Adjustable Hook Rule

PEC 402-H12 12" 4R Grad Adjustable Hook Rule
PEC 12” Adjustable Hook Rule. See on Amazon.

This is a steel rule that you can use to measure dimensions from an overhanging edge. You can reposition the hook along the end, so it becomes possible to work with thin materials.

Combination Square

IRWIN Tools Combination Square, Metal-Body, 6-Inch (1794468)
Irwin Tools Combination Square. See on Amazon.

Here’s another tool that lets you measure and verify the squareness of flat surfaces. The adjustable head of the combo plays a vital role in checking the machinery and laying out in joinery. It is common for a woodworking shop to have various sizes of combination squares from 4” to 12”.

Ruler Stop

Bundle Taytools 108884 2 Each Pair Anodized Aluminum Ruler Stops Fences and 6 Inch Spring Steel Machinist Ruler
Bundle Taytools Ruler Stop. See on Amazon.

The ruler stop enables you to ensure that cuts and holes are done accurately through proper measurement. It is a tiny attachment, typically stainless-steel which you can slide onto a steel ruler. Once you slide it over the ruler, you lock it in position with the locking screw, and then you can start measuring and marking.

Short Rule

2 Pack 6 Inches Clear Plastic Ruler Straight Ruler Plastic Measuring Tool for Student School Office
Short Rule. See on Amazon.

A short rule or short ruler is exactly what the name suggests. It is a short ruler typically six inches long. It is convenient as you can carry it around in your pocket. A short rule enables you to make precise measurements in a more comfortable way that you can’t with a tape measure.

Miter Hook

Trim Clip Miter Aid 003010 Measuring Device
Trim Clip Miter Aid Measuring Device (Image: Amazon)

This measurement tool helps you to measure the dimensions of a mitered workpiece. It enables you to hook your retractable tape measure into the groove to take measurements easily.

Sliding T-Bevel

General Tools 828 Digital Sliding T-Bevel Gauge & Digital Protractor in One
General Tools Sliding T-Bevel. See on Amazon.

You can use this tool (also called “T-bevel”) to measure and mark angles on workpieces. With a sliding T-bevel, you can transfer an existing angle and mark a specific angle.

Quick Corners

Rockler Corner Radius Routing Templates
Corner Radius Templates (Image: Amazon)

Here, you get a quick fix template that helps you to mark radii and angles on workpieces. It is rather like the way we use a coin or a small bowl to draw a circle by tracing the outline. Corner tools like the ones pictured above also making router cuts much easier.

Spirit Level

WORKPRO 3Pcs Spirit Level Set(9", 12", 24"), W002900A
WorkPro Spirit Level. See on Amazon.

A level or spirit level is a device that helps you to know how to level a surface is. It is particularly useful while installing cabinets, counters, and tables. The bubble in the tube of liquid (usually spirit) needs to be in the center to indicate a level surface.

Universal Angle Guide

Surgi-Sharp Universal Angle Guide SS10 - Sharpen EXACT angles from 10 to 45
Surgi-Sharp Universal Angle Guide. See on Amazon.

When you don’t need to copy or match an angle but you need to mark one, you can use a universal angle guide. You need to use this scale in conjunction with your miter gauge. We measure the angle of the workpiece with the miter gauge and hold it against the universal angle guide to check. You can measure or mark off angles from 0° to 180°.

9” Protractor Square

Kinex 1089-07-120 5-1/4 Inch (120 mm) Stainless Steel Machinist Protractor Angle Finder
Kinex 9” Protractor Square. See on Amazon.

We can best consider the 9” protractor square as an oversized bevel gauge. You can adjust the cutting angle of your miter saw through this measurement tool.

Plumb Bob

General Tools 790-8 Hexagon Steel Plumb Bob, 8 Ounce
General Tools Plumb Bob. See on Amazon.

We use this tool to ensure that the vertical reference of a structure is perpendicular to the surface. It traces its origin to at least as early as ancient Egypt. The body of the plumb bob is suspended vertically from a string or rope. We then compare the line of the string with a vertical edge of the structure. Then, if required, we make adjustments to ensure that the edge is parallel to the vertical line.

Moisture Meter

General Tools MMD4E Digital Moisture Meter, Water Leak Detector, Moisture Tester, Pin Type, Backlit LCD Display With Audible and Visual High-Medium-Low Moisture Content Alerts, Grays
General Tools Digital Moisture Meter. See on Amazon.

The moisture content of wood needs to be closely measured and monitored to avoid shrinkage. Moisture can be up to 80% in a newly-cut log and working with pieces of lumber with differing moisture levels can wreak havoc on your precision cuts.

Hence, we use a moisture meter to monitor when the moisture content has dropped enough to work on the wood. Read more about moisture meters here.

Mechanical Pencil

Paper Mate Clearpoint Mechanical Pencil, 0.7 mm, Black Barrel, Refillable, 4-pack
Paper Mate Mechanical Pencil. See on Amazon.

When you are marking up workpieces for cutting, drilling, and sizing, a mechanical pencil is an indispensable accessory. Because of the thin line that this pencil makes, you can make accurate markings.


Using suitable tools for marking and measuring is the key to smart-looking woodwork projects. If the dimensions of your wooden components don’t match properly, you will end up with lopsided results.

This is the sole reason why, even if you have some state-of-the-art power tools and equipment, you need good measuring tools. Select your measuring tools carefully for your woodworking shop. Equipped with all the different types of measuring tools for woodworking, you can become the expert woodworker that you aspire to be.


Featured Image by James Frid