I am working on a bookshelf which, due to the way I am building it, requires some of the pieces to be exactly measured to within 1/64th over 4-5 foot lengths. Obviously no yardstick is so accurate.

What techniques can be recommended for making such an accurate measurement?

I have access to machinist's tools, such as a complete set of gage blocks and machinist's squares and rules, however the rules I have are at most 16 inches long.

The material is white oak.

  • Is there a reason you can't cut it as close as possible and hide any errors with trim? – Doresoom Jun 8 '14 at 4:26
  • Wood, unlike metal, is flexible and will move with moisture changes. Allow for that in the design. Classic solution is to design things so you can cut a bit long and plane/sand to exact fit. – keshlam Jun 8 '14 at 4:34
  • The key support beams have holes drilled through them for steel rods. Those holes have to line up exactly. All the rods have to be in exact line because they connect to other pieces of wood that are closely fitted. If the main beams are different lengths it will throw everything off. As long as they are exactly the same length everything should be fine. There are 7 of these (2x4) about 4 feet long. – Tyler Durden Jun 8 '14 at 12:30

Get yourself a good quality folding measuring stick like that pictured below. These have a slide out bar that allows for exact inside measurement transfers to be made.

enter image description here

One useful technique for marking in a precise manner is to use a sharp blade to make a cut mark instead of using a pencil. The cut is much finer than a pencil line.

Another useful technique if making multiple pieces the same length is to cut one length from some scrap wood and use it as a template length. Again use the blade to make a short cut mark for the length. Use of scrap piece helps to ensure you always use the same piece for measuring as opposed to picking up the 2nd or 3rd piece for the next measurement.


I use a tape measure or good old fashioned folding rule, and use a razor knife to make my marks. I divide the 1/16" increments into thirds, that gets close enough to do anything I have needed to do. For repetitive cutting of the same lengths, use an extended fence on your saw with a stop block. I have built my own full set of kitchen cabinets, custom bath cabinets, custom entertainment center, fireplace mantles, what have you, using these 2 methods mentioned.


If you dont have a drop saw.

Mark one of the ends with a square (cut it).

Then measure (with measuring tape)from the newly cut square edge (mark the length).

Square that off from your mark.

An cut.

Then you can mark all the other ones the same way or just lay the 1st cut piece on top and mark all the other ones from that.

Also you need to make sure everything is square. Tape measure http://www.toolfix.com.au/images/P/FL48SI10%20Lufkin%20Tape.jpg

If you have a drop saw.

Same as above part from no need to draw square lines.

Just cut your square line with setting saw on 0 degrees.

Then mark and cut on mark.

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