The Essential Stick of the Lawn


This is one of my favorite stories that doesn’t involve a colonoscopy.

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When I traveled to Devon, U.K., to teach a tool chest class at David Savage’s shop and school, Rowden Atelier, I sent my usual tool list in advance for the students. When I arrived, David said they had gathered most of the tools on behalf of the students. But there was a problem.

There was one tool on the list that they couldn’t find. David said they looked everywhere in Devon. At all the tool merchants. They had even gone to a lawn and garden supply store.

Wait? Lawn and garden? “Which tool are we talking about?” I asked David.

“It was the ‘yard stick,’” he said. “We couldn’t figure out what the hell it was. Could it be something Americans used to clean their yard?”

We had a good laugh when I explained it was a “meter stick,” a term that sounds just as weird to me as “yardstick” did to David.

I love yardsticks for woodworking and have long had one handy. The aluminum one above I’ve had since I was a boy. My dad gave it to me when we were building our houses on our farm outside Hackett, Ark., and it has been a constant companion. You can see the holes I’ve drilled in it to use it as a compass/trammel. It’s a “good enough” straightedge for large-scale layout. And I feel no guilt about modifying a wooden one for some nefarious purpose.

The wooden one above I bought a couple years ago when we needed yardsticks for a tool chest class. I asked for a yardstick at our local hardware store, and the ones they were selling were from the 1960s when the store was on Greenup Street in Covington. Price $1. It’s gorgeous.

And so it is with great pride that I am announcing that Crucible Tool will not be making and selling artisanal yardsticks from plantation purpleheart.

Just go buy a wooden one from your local hardware store – heck buy a few. Hang them by the bench and any machines with a fence (we use one at the table saw all the time).

— Christopher Schwarz


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