Process Improvement, Rockler.com
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Rockler 3-in-1 Bar Gauge Simplifies Measuring

Handy in the shop: the Rockler 3-in-1 bar gauge.

Handy in the shop: the Rockler 3-in-1 bar gauge.

A skill which every new woodworker should master is the ability to make case work which is square. Being square might seem like the first thing you’d learn in woodworking school, but this error can sneak upon the most seasoned woodworker from time to time. I remember a woodworking project where after assembling the case, I could tell it wasn’t square simply by looking at it – a big disappointment.

With my window seat bookcase project, ensuring a square interior was a tricky task. The easiest way to determine square is to measure the diagonals. When the measurements are the same, the case is square. Getting a ruler in there and getting an accurate read had me contorting my 54-year-old back and neck to a point where I simply gave up. A quick search at Rockler.com provided a solution.

Easy diagonals with the 3-in-1 bar gauge.

Easy diagonals with the 3-in-1 bar gauge.

I ordered a Rockler 3-in-1 bar gauge. This is an inexpensive measuring tool which enables the woodworker to easily determine diagonal measurements as well as interior distances. The tool also comes with the ability to mark circles. All the woodworker does is add either a 3/8″ diameter aluminum rod or pick up some inexpensive hardwood dowels at the home center. I chose wood dowels; I bought extras to handle the various lengths needed to get measurements on my bookcase.

Easily determining the inside length.

Easily determining the inside length.

Dowel tips are changeable for different tasks.

Dowel tips are changeable for different tasks.

As shown in the photos above, the 3-in-1 bar gauge comes with different tips for the dowels; pointed ones for measuring diagonals and flat tips (above) for getting inside measurements. These tips attach to the dowels with set screws and a Allen wrench.

With the inside measurements locked down by tightening large thumbscrews, I can simply walk over to my tablesaw and transfer the length to the lower shelves and make a good cut.

The Rockler 3-in-1 bar gauge is available for $29.99 by clicking here. It is easy to use and makes accuracy in the workshop easier. I should have bought this a long time ago.

* * *

A quick update on the window seat bookcase: this week I bought an amazingly flat 10′ long 1 x 6 (4/4 stock) which will soon become the middle shelves for the bookcase.

Here using my tablesaw as a workbench. Taking some minor passes with my plane to clean up one board.

Here using my tablesaw as a workbench. Taking some minor passes with my plane to clean up one board.

With the window seat bookcase consuming much of the space on my workbench, I am finding myself using my table saw’s large, flat surface as a workbench.

This week I have been able to cut the shelves to rough length; each shelf will be made from a glue-up of two boards. Tomorrow, I’ll continue the process of taking the thickness down to 3/4″ and then get the glue-up completed. I’ll have more later this week.

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