To increase accuracy, some woodworkers avoid using the zero end of a rule or tape and use the 1-in. mark instead. You can also use other starting points, such as 2 in. or 3 in. However, when using this technique, you must remember to subtract that number from the actual reading further down the rule.
A 4-ft. T-square for drywalling can come in handy for other projects. Besides being helpful in drywalling, it can be useful when laying out patterns or cutting on full sheets of plywood or particle board. The square is accurate, stable and will give you a full 48-in. straight line. Some newer versions come with a head that can be adjusted to various angles, then clamped in place.
There's a solution for dealing with wood screws which have broken off below the surface of the wood. If you don't want to risk damaging the wood by digging it out, try driving the screw deeper into the wood with a nail set. Then just fill the hole with a wood filler, and drive a new screw next to the broken one.
When you process wood in your shop, it is helpful to make notations on boards so you remember which have been cut to length or run through equipment like planers or jointers. Instead of using pencils for the notes, use chalk. Chalk lets you mark the wood without marring it so you can be more liberal with your notations. An inexpensive children's sidewalk chalk set will provide several colors so that you can color-code your marking system.
When using dowels, select a size half the thickness of the wood being joined. For example, for 3/4-in. stock, consider 3/8-in. dowels.; for 7/8-in. stock use 7/16-in. dowels. The length inserted should generally be three times its thickness. Thus, a 3/8-in. dowel should be about 2-1/2 in. long to penetrate into each member 1-1/4 in.
You can use a rule to quickly find the center of a board's width without dealing with small fractions. Lay the rule across the width, keeping the scale's zero mark lined up with one side. Then angle the rule so that an even number lines up with the opposite side. Mark the board at half the distance. You can also find the center by drawing an "X" diagonally across from one set of opposite corners, then across from the other set of opposite corners. The exact center will be where the lines cross.
When you are fastening two pieces of wood with screws, keep the pilot hole through the top piece slightly larger than the diameter of the shank of the screw. This will allow the wood screw to pull the two pieces of material tightly together. If the pilot hole is too small, the top piece can climb the threads of the screw and leave a gap between the two pieces.
On certain projects, you may be required to work with brass screws. While the brass results in an attractive finished project, it is a soft metal that can easily be scratched or damaged. The solution is to use your drill to create a pilot hole, then drive a regular steel screw of identical size into the hole. After the hold is created, remove the steel screw and replace it with the brass one.
Here's the best way to remove finish nails from old woodwork. After carefully removing the woodwork from the wall, pull out the nails using a vise grip. Grasp the nail with the vice grip on the unfinished side of the wood and pull the nail through. Repeat this procedure until all the nails are removed. This method keeps the finished face of your woodwork intact.
Carpenters who do rough construction get very proficient at "close-enough" measuring. For example, to quickly draw a line parallel to the edge of a board, you can place a pencil at the end of a combination square and move both the square and pencil along the board. Some combination squares have a hole in the blade for this purpose.