Travelling Anarchist Tool Chest and Contents no. 5: Measuring Tools


Boy,…… The lucky person who wins this tool chest is going to get a treat. Not only, great historic chest made by Chris Schwarz. This one of the very last chests he is making with students for the foreseeable future. Chis is now going into a period away from the class, doing  new work, writing, and research and I wish him good luck, we were very fortunate to get him to come to Rowden this summer.

Not only that, but she gets a whole chest FULL of tools chosen by us here at Rowden with Chris giving input on the side AND a signed hard bound copy of The Anarchist Tool Chest.   You have heard of that book haven’t you ?? If you haven’t go get it NOW.

There are people out there that YOU  know WORLD WIDE . They are 25 or under and busting a gut to become a great maker. It is your job to get them to  win this chest of tools  ENTER HERE  They would need to be able to come to Rowden for a week if they reached the final . We will pay their expenses whilst they are here as our guests but air flights are down to them. Also shipping this baby home if you win.

Measuring Out Tools.  Beware the traitor in the camp.

I have put a selection of rules in the tool box . They cannot be too long in the shop most of have three rules one metre, either a 600mm or a 300 mm and usually a 150mm . In imperial measure that would be 3 foot rule 12 inch and 6inch. Boy, that was brain ache i haven’t though in imperial measure for thirty years . They can be almost any brand one show here is Axeminster Power Tools own brand and Rabone .


I have been using Rabone measuring rules all my life  but they are no better that many others. What I tend to council is choose one brand that you like and get your set of three or four rules in the same brand THEN CHECK THE SUCKERS . Make sure they are ALL telling the same measure, check em really carefully, we have binned or returned 10 % of rules that have passed through Rowden.

Straight edges

Top of the photo above is our straight edge. this is an essential piece of kit. A really good 600 mm straight edge from Starret cost arm leg and part of your wedding tackle. This is a cheap but not very straight straight edge from Axeminster Power Tools. The blade of this edge is tapered to a thin profile SOOO… there is not a great deal of work to get it really straight. Jon Greenwood thank you. Take a  really flat surface, we have a granite slab, and wet and dry paper 1280 grit and carefully, rub then check, rub then check.


I did have a passion for engineers squares in the 1980s. This was when it was common to see very inaccurate wooden stocked squares in workshops. Now we are making our own wooden squares as teaching exercises!!

This image below shows common squares in my tool box . It used it be possible to buy guaranteed squares to BS 939 ( for the Americans amongst you that is Britsh Standard, not what you are thinking! ) Now we cannot get these as easily so all kinds of inaccurate squares are coming into Rowden. My answer is Starret. This great American engineering company have been making reliable squares and measuring tools for as long as i can remember. Which is a damn long time dear boy! I have taken to the adjustable square. This is because  it is that much more useful than the fixed square, and, being well made, is accurate enough. We keep one serious square that is not used, or dropped, that is “Workshop Standard.” All squares are checked against this now and again, Daren keeps it hidden.


The maker who wins this will be assembling a small collection of squares, the square I have bought to start this collection is the Starrett 12inch  below which is a great tool and one I want myself.



Last but not least this is one of the squares that we will be seeing a lot more of at Rowden. it will be one of the first things a new student makes two nice Mahogany squares one large one small with hard wearing maple work strips.  I am taking more and more to light wooden tools as I get older.  The benefit of these is they can be relatively easily trued square if they go out of whack.



David established Rowden Atelier in 1995, a now world renowned fine woodworking school. Discover Rowden, the woodworking courses, and the work that students go on to do.

Looking for our woodworking courses? is the new home of Rowden Atelier Fine Woodworking School.

It is where you will now find all the information about our renowned fine woodworking courses, our ethos, and why our students go on to do so many great things. This site remains dedicated to the designs and work, of Rowden’s Founder; David Savage. If you are looking for our woodworking courses, please click here.