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Marking out rods to ensure perfection

A marking out rod is a full size drawing of a cabinet, mould, door, staircase, window or any other wood product you want to make. We use them on more intricate bespoke furniture pieces so that we can see a piece drawn up in full scale and make tweaks before final production.

Our cabinet maker John Perks shares his expertise on marking out rods.

Marking out rods

'A rod is a great way to see exactly what something is going to look like before you start machining any timber. It allows you to look at the section sizes and whether they look right, to look at all the joints and whether anything needs changing. It allows you to look at the grooves, rebates and moulds to make sure they’re all going to work and what sizes you’re going to use. At this stage, you can make any changes very easily; starting before checking can be a costly mistake.

Tools needed - pencil or pen (pencil must be a fine gauge as you want as crisp a line as possible), ruler, tape measure, compass (for curved work), square, a drawing with the spec on of what is going to be made, and a board to mark on.

Below are some pictures and an example of a rod I used to make up some curved cornice.

1st: Through section of the mould we are going to make and all the different parts that make it up.

2nd: A plan view in full size of the same mould but curved.

3rd: A straight piece of the mould machined up.

4th: A curved piece of the mould machined up.

5th: The curved piece joined to the straight piece and fitted to this stunning My Fathers Heart kitchen.

Since the introduction of computers and CNC (a machine where code is typed in and the cutters in the machine respond, drilling, shaping and cutting in the correct places), rods are being used less and less which I personally think is a shame.

New apprentices coming through are losing this incredibly important skill and, even now with all this modern technology, I still believe that there are certain occasions when you really can’t beat marking out a rod full size to make sure there are no issues. It gives you a greater understanding of all the details before you get started and reduces the chance of mistakes.

A final word on rods:

Marking a rod out was one of the first lessons I learnt and, to be honest, it was one of the most important lessons to date as it shows you have a true understanding of what you are about to make. If you can mark it out, then you can make anything you can think of.

Tip: make sure you double check and take care with your measurements as any mistakes at this stage will be transferred to your finished product.'

Read the next post in the series

Read the next blog post in the series to find out more about how our cabinetry making process

By John Perks13/04/2020
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