Story Poles and How to Use Them
An ancient measurement tool ensures precise, fail-safe layouts
Synopsis: Jim Tolpin blamed inexperience, innate clumsiness, and the early onset of senility for his imprecision and misread measurements. Then he learned about story poles. From the renowned cubit used in Egyptian pyramids to massive European cathedrals, story poles are useful in rough framing, layout, dimensions, joints, and assembly positions. Tolpin explains how to use one here, and drawings illustrate how and where to mark the pole. There are site story poles and cabinet story poles, as well as joinery and hardware story poles, and Tolpin discusses them all.
When I began working with wood over twenty years ago, one of the first tools I bought and taught myself to use was the steel-rule tape measure. I soon found it constantly in my hand, using it to make cutoff marks, to lay out assembly positions or to determine the dimensions of a space or the length of a piece of…