Scribe and Square

Even the strongest stuff needs a carefully thought-out design and skillful execution to make a strong building. In the old way of carpentry, you scribe each joint by superimposing timbers on one another and marking the intersections as they happen to fall. This scribing copies the variations of one piece onto the other piece so you can cut them to a close fit. To lay out a wall, you arrange the sill and the top beam parallel to one another on the ground. Set the corner posts spanning them, properly spaced with the corners squared. With a scratch awl, scribe lines where they cross one another (they should be longer than needed). These lines become your guides to saw the shoulders of the tenons and to find the locations of the mortises. With the outer frame connected, subsequent timbers get custom fitted within it.

Few things get measured—but everything gets numbered, because each piece will fit in only one place. Nothing can be reversed; no brace can be exchanged for another. Come raising day, you depend on the Roman numeral "marriage marks" to get every piece back where it belongs.

Some time around 1815, a new method emerged. If guns and clocks could be made with interchangeable parts — why not buildings? Instead of the old scribe rule, carpenters began building by the square rule. With the square rule method, you can design a building on paper and start making braces and posts in your basement, knowing that they will fit together on raising day.

The square rule still uses the same rough-hewn timbers of the scribe rule, but measures and cuts the joints as if every piece were perfectly dimensioned. Say you've got a heavy hewn timber with the normal variations in dimension. Guided by chalk line and square, you sink and level the seat around every mortise in this timber to align with the perfect ten-by-ten hiding within it. Every brace tenon can be struck from the same template, because the ends of every timber are perfect. No matter how funky the lengths in between, the joints reside in a perfect world.

Woodworking Tools and Installation Tips

Woodworking Tools and Installation Tips

There are a lot of things that either needs to be repaired, or put together when youre a homeowner. If youre a new homeowner, and have just gotten out of apartment style living, you might want to take this list with you to the hardware store. From remolding jobs to putting together furniture you can use these 5 power tools to get your stuff together. Dont forget too that youll need a few extra tools for other jobs around the house.

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