Blood, Sweat, and Sawdust

Going against the grain

Tag: hand tools

Make a Sector from an Old Folding Rule


The Sector

How do you quickly divide an interior space of 17 5/8 inches into three equal parts?  With a sector.  Furniture builders and architects have reached for the sector often to quickly divide spaces.  Unfortunately, it’s a tool that has been largely forgotten in today’s machine driven world.

The sector is nothing more than a pair of folding arms used to create a series of proportional triangles.  To divide a space, line up the sector with one of the markings that is a multiple of the division you want.  For example, if you want to divide the space into four equal parts, you could use the four, eight, twelve…you get the point.  Then, just set a pair of dividers to the division you want.  If you selected twelve, align your dividers with the three.  If this isn’t entirely clear, don’t worry.  I will write another post detailing their use.


To make the sector, start by marking the center point of your hinge, where the inside of each arm intersect.  I used an accurate straightedge to carry a line through with a pencil.  It’s critical that this is accurate.


Then, walk your increments off with a pair of dividers.  You may have to use some trial an error here.  Twelve increments works great, due to the amount of whole number ratios you can get.  Unfortunately, my first step would have still be in the brass, so I went with eight for this one.


With the increments stepped off, I carefully carried a line across both arms with a marking knife.

Completed Sector

From there, it was just a matter of filling in the lines for visibility and numbering my graduations.  Stay tuned for part two, where I will demonstrate the sector in use.

Click here for part 2 in this series: How to use a sector

Roubo Workbench Build Complete

They say that the journey is more important than the destination.  I agree.  However, it’s hard not to get excited about knocking this off of the list.

After some deliberation, I decided to finish the workbench with boiled linseed oil.  I found that the best way to apply the finish was with a squeeze bottle and a rag.  The bench will sit on an unprotected garage floor, so I don’t want it to wick up moisture.  It doesn’t feel much slicker than before and it looks pretty.

It was a long journey, but I learned a lot along the way.  The joinery on this thing is massive.  That alone was a challenge.  Milling the boards by hand taught me a lot about wood and how to use hand planes.  This was also my first time draw-boring a wood joint.  I definitely think I’ll be using this technique again in the future.

The bench is solid.  I absolutely love the Bench Crafted hardware.  I can’t wait to get started using this beast.  Thanks for everyone’s support and advice.

You can find links to my other Roubo posts here:  Project Index


Superior Hand Tools: The Bit and Brace

I’ve recently been using my vintage hand brace often.  I’ve discovered that there are many times when I prefer it to a power drill.  As long as your bits are sharp and you use a brace with the proper sweep, it doesn’t need much more physical effort than a power drill.  It’s easy to get crisp, clean holes and it’s a lot of fun to use.  It’s also nice not to have to worry about charging batteries all the time.  Watch the video below to see how easy it is to use a bit and brace.

Music is by ‘Hare and the Hounds’.  They just released their first album.  It’s a good one.  I highly suggest you check it out.

Time to unwind

Beautiful furniture requires accurate joinery, and that accuracy requires square boards which are free of twist. Even small amounts of twist can wreak havoc with forming solid joints. To detect these minute amounts of warpage, a tool is needed. The tool most often employed is the winding stick. Winding sticks are nothing more than a pair of long straight sticks that are laid across each end of a board to amplify any existing twist to the eye.

I made mine out of hickory, because it is a very hard wood with straight grain. Each one is approximately 18 inches long, with a pair of holes on one board to make sighting any twist a bit easier. I also chamfered the tops of each board to remind me that I only need to maintain one side. I finished them with a couple of coats of tongue oil.