Once Upon a Time

The Story of a Stick.

The Story Stick has been a useful tool for 100s of years, for recording and transferring measurements, without the need for a rule or tape measure. In its simplest form, it was nothing more than a straight stick, that had distances marked on it so there was consistency in lengths for multiple items, and one that could be stored for future reference.

The Royal Navy had a similar tool (and one still in regular use in various Navies), called a Gunter Batten. This consisted of two poles that could be slid apart to measure a distance up to about 10′ and a piece of string then jammed between and wound around to lock the measurement. When in combat and the ship has taken a hit, especially below the water line, water is pouring in and it needs to be shored up so the ship doesn’t sink, the last thing you need is a tape measure that you are trying fruitlessly to get an accurate measurement of the length of timber you need to support the bulkhead or deckhead to prevent collapse. With water pouring in, and slamming back and forth as the ship rolls, trying to get, and then remember a measurement is prone to disaster. The gunter batten, as a form of story stick, ensures accuracy in the chaos.

Woodpeckers in more recent times revived the concept of the story stick, not so much as one for semi-permanent storage of measurements (the Veritas blank tapemeasure was invented for that task- it was an April Fools joke that was so clever it became a limited run reality!), but at least one that was used for the duration of the project.

Woodpeckers have revisited the design of their story stick, and the result is this pro version, available in various lengths

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Now with transparent stops, it is even easier to use, store, and transfer measurements around the project, without having to measure, record, forget, remeasure etc the size of an opening, the thickness of a piece of timber (or length) etc.

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These are the straight stops. And as an optional accessory, they also have an offset finger, so you can set the opening of an interior measurement on one side, and the fingers/stops demonstrate the required size of the exterior of the related object. Imagine using this to build a set of drawers, getting an accurate measurement of the drawer opening and being about to easily transfer that measurement to the length of timber for the drawer front. Or a lidded box, or the many other times this sort of work/measuring is required.

It is not dimensionless woodworking, but it is a method where you don’t have to interpret the scale of the measurement tool in question, you can simply set the distance, and transfer it to another object.

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I haven’t the additional fingers to try, to be able to assess accuracy, but I would expect this to be very useful for boxmaking, and for wood turning, especially when creating fitted lid boxes etc.

The Woodpeckers Story Stick Pro, from Professional Woodwork Supplies Keeping a very traditional tool alive, and dragged into 21st century design!

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