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7 Basic Measuring and Layout Tools Every Serious DIY Needs

Measure twice, cut once is a famous and wise saying most likely borne out of costly experience and time. The marks of a true craftsman are not only found in their handiwork but also their pre-planning beforehand. To ensure precision and quality throughout each project, they need the best tools that help to mark and measure their work properly and accurately.

Successful workshop projects start with careful, accurate measuring and layout. The most critical elements in these step of the process are good planning to create a clear layout for your project's intricacies. The precision needed varies according to the complexity of the project at hand and to make sure every detail is accounted for, guidance from this article should help!

Related article: 5 Small Rotary Tool Kits For DIY Maintenance and Repair

What Are Measuring and Layout Tools?

Measuring and layout tools measure and mark lengths, areas, positions in materials to ensure accurate cuts.

Measuring tools come in all shapes, sizes, complexity and prices, but they all do the same thing -  measure and layout projects. These include flat steel rules, measuring tapes of all different shapes sizes, and specialist gauges for measuring angles that need understanding to use properly. Modern digital devices may come with a combination plumb bob/level setting or just one tool allowing you to make multiple measurements using laser scanning technology.

All these items have their place in making sure every inch and millimetre has been thought through correctly so as not to leave anything off. When you consider which of these tools to use keep in mind the tool must be accurate, easy to use and durable. Numbers on the device should be visible with ease so you can read them quickly - especially in low light situations or outside where it's difficult in sunlight

Must-Have Measuring and Layout Tools For DIYers

1. Tape Measure

Measurement tape - Basic Measuring and Layout Tools

The tape measure is a classic tool in every builder's arsenal. It should be able to withstand abuse and still function with ease, without breaking or rusting from moisture damage. A 3m/9ft retractable length will do just fine for shorter measurements - anything longer than that might become cumbersome. Most, if not all, home DIY kits include a retractable tape measure.

2. Steel Ruler and Set Squares

Steel ruler and set squares - Basic Measuring and Layout Tools

A compact steel ruler or set square (sometimes called a machinist’s or combination square) with etched graduations is perfect for all sorts of precise layout tasks. The advantage over a bigger rule comes in the thin blade and easy-to reads markings which allow you to use it lying flat or turn it on edge when necessary.

The combination square is a helpful tool for any project that requires measurement and alignment. From verifying corners are at right angles, to drawing lines across an edge or cutting pieces of wood perfectly aligned with each other; this small but powerful piece has many uses!

3. Marking Knife

Marking knife - Basic Measuring and Layout Tools

A carpenter’s thick pencil line will suffice for most tasks but if accuracy matters then for those finer incised lines, a marking knife is essential. This type of instrument leaves no room for error with its sharpness - great news when your work requires pinpoint precision!

Marking knives are a valuable tool for scribing dovetail pins and adjusting joints. They make an incised line that leaves no doubt where you should cut your material. It handily creates an extremely shallow groove to position chisels while cleaning up or fine-tuning the workpiece with utmost accuracy.

4. Sliding Bevel Gauge

Sliding bevel gauge - Basic Measuring and Layout Tools

A sliding bevel gauge is a must-have tool for any project that requires an angle other than 45 or 90 degrees as a set or combination square would do. Its slotted blade can adjust and lock to any angle, as well as extend or shorten its length depending on what you need for your project. It allows you to copy an angle from existing pieces or drawings. Simply set the blade against your desired setting and adjust and lock accordingly when copying from drawings or other materials.

5. Protractor

protractor - Basic Measuring and Layout Tools

The protractor performs the same function as the bevel gauge above, but for much larger work-pieces and angles and primarily for cutting with a miter saw. The protractor is a must for any project that requires transferring angles from an odd-shaped piece as it provides a long surface to measure against. All you have to do is press its two long legs against an object and then read from there read-off its built-in scale the correct angle to set before cutting.

6. Laser Measures

Laser  Measures - Basic Measuring and Layout Tools

The laser measure is the ultimate tool for any design project. Small and portable, they can measure up to 260ft away, surely enough for the most serious DIY enthusiast! so you can take them anywhere. They feature continuous measurements that provide instant results no matter where the device is pointed, measurement recording and can even be mounted on tripods for long-range measurements.

7. Spirit Levels

Spirit levels - Basic Measuring and Layout Tools

We all know that a spirit level (or bubble level) is so important when working with construction, furniture and woodwork projects, so they are usually found in all good DIY tool kit sets. Perfectly balanced vertical and horizontal positions are everything, and spirit levels will be your best friend when it comes time to build or repair any project. The tool just has one job: make sure that all surfaces are perfectly aligned so you can put up those shelves without worrying about them falling over!


Which measuring and layout tools should you have in your toolkit? The answer to that question is dependent on what kind of DIY projects you want to work on. Whether you're a professional contractor or just a homeowner who loves to do home improvement projects, some basic measuring and layout tools will make your life easier.  With the right set of tools on hand, you'll be able to get started with any project in no time at all.

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