Lee Valley Tools Woodworking Newsletter
Vol. 1, Issue 2
January 2007
 
Make a Wooden Straightedge
  

Next, mark out a gradual curve or taper on the other long edge of your tool. The ends should be half the width of the tool at its midpoint – so a straightedge that is 2-1/4” wide in the middle should be 1-1/8” at its ends. Cut this long edge to shape with a bandsaw or frame saw. Remove the sawblade marks with a plane. Drill a 1/4”-diameter hole at one end to hang the tool when it’s not in use. For comfort, you can chamfer the long edges of the tool that are not used for layout.

Cutting the curve / taper Fig. 4 - A straight taper is easier to saw and plane than a gradual curve. If you cut a curve, clean it up with a spokeshave and sandpaper.

Your straightedge is now essentially complete. Add a clear film finish if you wish, though it will not protect the tool from seasonal changes in humidity.

Testing and Truing Your Tool
Immediately and again every few months, test the truth of your straightedge. Lay it down on a piece of paper or plywood and scribe a line along its length.

Scribing a test line Showing the tool to the line
Fig. 5 - To test your tool, scribe a pencil line along its straight edge with care. Fig. 6 - Now turn your straightedge to the other side of your line and show the edge to the line you just drew. If the tool is not true, any error will be exaggerated twofold.

Next, spin the tool 180°, keeping the same face up, and show the same edge to the line. Any error will be magnified twofold, and you’ll see exactly where it needs to be corrected. Either the edge will have a slight bellied shape or it will be concave in the middle.

If the edge has a belly, use a long plane to remove a few shavings in the middle of the edge followed by a few shavings all along the edge. If the edge is concave, simply plane along the edge until you bring the high ends down to the valley in the middle.

Test the edge and plane it again until the tool is true.

Christopher Schwarz,
Editor,
Popular Woodworking magazine
 
1 / 2 / 3
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