When working with a log with 2 or 3 square, flat sides and 1 or 2 live edges, what are some good ways to carry measurement markings from the flat sides onto the live edge?

I am interested in marking both parallel to and perpendicular to the grain direction. Straight lines are valuable, but answers should ideally have potential to give straight lines of known length. Some measuring tools I have access to: square, plumb line, chalk line, level, ruler, compass.

I am asking as a pure hand-tool user (that is, not about milling from a log). I am asking about laying out joints or other non-full-length geometries on stock with live edges. When I make a rip or a crosscut, I need to scribe a line on each face or else I won't get it quite right.

e.g: I was cutting two rabbet joints for "waterfall" style legs on a thick slab table with two live edges. This required making a rip with both ends on live edge and the corners between rip and crosscut both fall on live edge. How would you lay out measurements when you need them on an irregular surface that can't take a straightedge?

  • You're familiar with the normal order of operations in marking for length and width? And for that matter, with how to four-square stock (where you establish and work from the face side and face edge)? Since we can't use the live edge you have to use the one opposite, so this by definition must become the face edge and pretty much the rest of the procedure follows on from there. Incidentally, the normal or traditional marking-out procedures for four-squared stock have become largely redundant in a power-tool workshop so minimal marking out is the order of the day, except for the hand-tool guys.
    – Graphus
    Jun 7 at 18:25
  • @Graphus Yep, I am familiar with milling measurements. I updated my question to answer some of yours. Jun 8 at 17:02
  • Well two live edges changes everything. Then I think your only option is to create a datum line (essentially arbitrary, you pick where you want it to go) and work from that. And if necessary temporarily attach a straight edge to one the datum line on one face to mark off/from.
    – Graphus
    Jun 9 at 6:44

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