Making a Straightedge

Straight Edge Photo EP2

This is the introduction for a free series. Want to watch the whole thing? It is free to do so, you just need to log into the site and you can enjoy this series and many other videos we think you will love.


Paul shows how to make a straightedge like the one he first made over 50 years ago. It has a handle in the centre and is tapered from either side of the handle to the ends. It is useful around the shop for referencing against and accurately laying out larger stock.

Cutting List & Drawing

Click here to download the drawing for this project.

Wood Selection

  • Oak
  • Ash
  • Cherry
  • Walnut
  • Any other stable hardware

The tools you will need are:

  • Knife
  • Square
  • Tape & ruler
  • Chisel hammer
  • Chisel (1” or wider)
  • Gouge (10mm/⅜” no 7 sweep recommended, but most will work)
  • Smoothing plane (No 4)
  • *Jack plane (No 5)
  • Handsaw
  • Tenon or dovetail saw
  • Card scraper
  • Brace & ⅝”/16mm bit
  • *Rasp
  • File
  • Square awl

* = optional


  1. James Savage on 6 March 2017 at 4:09 pm

    You’ve just made my day 🙂 Thank you for this project.

  2. DCowen on 6 March 2017 at 4:42 pm

    Thank you for this video wanted a wooden on for a long time

  3. rafi on 6 March 2017 at 5:02 pm

    Thank you for another useful tool! Of course, allowing the wood to acclimate to my location before cutting into it is a given. Is there an advantage in selecting a quartesawn, rift or plain cut piece? I suspect rift cut would be the most stable.

    • Philip Adams on 7 March 2017 at 4:06 pm

      @rafi, In this instance, milling orientation doesn’t really affect the long term stability. Different woods have different tensions after drying, so you may have to plane the flat edge straight after making it.
      Best, Phil

  4. jedevans on 6 March 2017 at 5:05 pm

    Paul, your woodworking videos are the best, but I’m a little troubled about the creep towards more and more speeded up footage of repetitive joinery, with the addition of more and more music.
    I don’t think long periods of speeded up action adds anything to your already excellent videos, so a return to the more sedate and gentle woodwork would be much appreciated, rather than the frantic high-speed elements and long periods of music that appears to be creeping in.

    • Erik Johansson on 12 March 2017 at 9:33 am

      I totally agree.

      • Ian Lockwood on 12 March 2017 at 6:54 pm

        I agree too, I am happy for some repetition or for the repetition to not be filmed but showing it speeded up is a technique i have seen elsewhere and does not add any value to the video for me.

        • Derek Plattsmier on 9 December 2018 at 1:19 am

          I agree as well.
          I much prefer the repetition of Paul cutting/fitting joints to the fast forward video montage to music. I think the repetition isn’t really actual repetition anyway because when doing hand work every one will be a little different – even if only in the wood grain & some different issues to deal with particular to that area of the wood.
          Seeing Paul deal with the same joint & a different issue (or just cutting the same joint in another area in the project) is much, much more educational than speeding through all but one example.

    • ChrisFleming on 17 April 2017 at 6:54 pm

      Just wanted to jump in a say that I also agree.

      As a new woodworker I am very glad that I have the fortune of learning from Paul.

      It never hurts to watch a master-craftsman at work. Even though I’ve seen some of his videos at least a dozen times over the months, I always catch something small from rewatching them.

      I learn a lot from watching how Paul handles the small issues when he is laying out joinery, or the particular way he may position his chisel or saw when making a cut. The small movements that are almost an afterthought to him are often invaluable teachable moments to me.

      If I have learned anything from woodworking thus far it is patience, attention to detail, and planing ahead. By speeding up the videos or removing what may be trivial commentary I feel like I am missing out on something very important.

  5. jasonwb on 6 March 2017 at 5:29 pm

    Thank you!
    I set aside some wood for a straight edge a few months ago. I’m glad I can make it with your guidance.
    Just a side note, I loved your earlier videos, very personable like you were speaking directly to me. And I love the new videos, the camera work, editing and time lapse are very informative. They are still personable too. Keep it up!

  6. bytesplice on 6 March 2017 at 5:35 pm

    Thanks Paul,

    I enjoy your videos without exception. I can’t wait to get to the lumber yard!

  7. lawrencey on 6 March 2017 at 7:18 pm

    Paul, I’m afraid I agree with Jed Evans about the use of speeded up footage.

    It doesn’t add anything to the viewer, as we don’t pick up anything new, because you are not talking at speed (obviously).

    It would have been better just to stop and come back when you have repeated the other side, as you have done in many of your other videos when things have to be repeated.

    I do like the music because of its relaxed pace, but it doesn’t suit the speeded up video!

    Keep up the great work.

    • Dan Bo on 8 March 2017 at 1:10 pm

      I actually appreciate the use of time-lapse. Having just see him complete one repetitive task, whether it’s ripping one end of this project or cutting a series of housing dadoes, seeing him repeat an operation in the same way does little to fill gaps in my knowledge. The time-lapse lets me see the general sequence of events efficiently while showing the continuity of the work.

  8. Garvin Walsh on 6 March 2017 at 8:03 pm

    What is the point of the taper? Is there a practical purpose?

    • Philip Adams on 7 March 2017 at 4:07 pm

      It is mostly aesthetics and for ergonomic design purposes. The two extremes are lighter, which is a useful feature.

  9. Kirk Zabolio on 6 March 2017 at 9:23 pm

    I too like the cut and come back later version instead of the speeded up one. But keep them coming either way.

  10. Joseph Kessler on 6 March 2017 at 9:33 pm

    Does the orientation of the grain matter as to the longevity of the straight edge remaining straight?? I’m using white oak.

    • Philip Adams on 7 March 2017 at 4:30 pm

      Hello Joseph,
      The milling direction is not critical. But you will want the grain to run along the length of the straightedge.

  11. John Herndon on 6 March 2017 at 9:34 pm

    what wood species do you recommend using for the straight edge?

    • Philip Adams on 7 March 2017 at 4:31 pm

      Hello John,
      Oak, ash, cherry, walnut and any other stable hardwood would be good choices.

  12. Carlo Losurdo on 8 March 2017 at 3:36 pm

    Paul & Crew:

    What a great tool to have. Very well done. however, I can’t seem to print the PDF document from my printer. I have tried all kinds of settings, but it still does not print. Is there some other version of the drawing that you can post?

  13. Connor Williams on 14 March 2017 at 1:54 am

    Paul, being a musician I enjoyed the tasteful guitar music during the faster part of the video. I had only heard the begining of the music during your videos and was glad to hear more of it. Nice steel string playing. Give my reguards to the musician.

  14. Ferd Madara on 20 March 2017 at 4:49 pm

    Thank you for sending these great classes on-line. As I am very busy with my regular calling I find it difficult to get to my shop, & when I do, there’s a list of my own projects that need finished. These videos are pure enjoyment for me when I decide to sit down for the evening. Keep them coming! One day I will tackle some of them.

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