Using only hand tools, I made a groove for a wedge and the wedge does not fit tight and perfect. How do I highlight where the exact point is that needs to be reworked? I've seen someone using carbon paper or some other compound but that cannot work with a wedge. In another words how do you mark gaps, to highlight tolerances and so on?

Another example, I have a curved piece of wood and I want to make another piece of wood fit to the curve perfectly. Again how to highlight any gap or wood excess? I know I can use light but there are certain cases where you cannot use light.

  • 2
    Hi, welcome to StackExchange. It's not clear from this what the fit problem is with the wedge, can you post a photo? And why wouldn't pencil/chalk work? But possibly the main thing to realise with a wedge is that wood can be highly compressible..... "i have a curved piece of wood, i have to make another piece of wood that will fit perfectly in the curve," This is a very tough thing to do well, but the general method (after careful marking out obviously) would be to very carefully remove wood a little at a time until the fit is good. This is a very good situation to chalk one surface.
    – Graphus
    Commented Sep 29, 2021 at 7:47
  • 1
    Is this helpful with your problem? How to get better at fitting joints and "seeing" bruises?
    – Volfram K
    Commented Sep 29, 2021 at 9:14
  • 3
    Why would carbon paper (can you actually still find that stuff??) or "some other compound" not work with a wedge? Again, pics of your actual project will help people see your issue and come up with recommendations.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Sep 29, 2021 at 17:33
  • 2
    ...but that cannot work with a wedge This is like asking how to drill a hole and then declaring that drill bits cannot work. You'll need to provide more details if you want us to understand you.
    – Caleb
    Commented Sep 29, 2021 at 21:13
  • 2
    @FreeMan, "can you actually still find that stuff??" a Google search says it is! I would have presumed not because I thought the primary need (typewriter-related) was long gone, but apparently there are enough other applications that it's still being produced and is widely available from stationers and art-supply places. Who knew?!
    – Graphus
    Commented Sep 30, 2021 at 7:27

1 Answer 1


Have you tried using chalk? A light coating of chalk on the piece you want to fit, then try it out, make it snug so it 'rubs' on the other pieces. All the high points that need to be sanded down should show wear where they rub and the low spots would be untouched.

After 1 or 2 rounds, might need to clean up the chalk because it will tend to spread out over everything.

BTW I'd use white chalk, any bright colors might be hard to completely clean out of all the pores. Others who've used this method prefer colors to help visually, so what ever works for you!

  • 2
    +1, but white chalk may be very hard to see on light-coloured woods (I was thinking initially of common softwoods, but I was recently working with some oak sapwood that was a cream/oatmeal colour that white would be invisible on). White marks are perfect for ABW of course, and should work well with any species darker than a typical piece of red oak. FWIW the norm for chalk used for this purpose seems to be to use a highly visible contrasting colour (e.g. red!) which would leave zero doubt where you get even light touching. Plus we must remember these are hidden surfaces on the finished item!
    – Graphus
    Commented Nov 22, 2021 at 17:11
  • The chalk sold for use in chalk lines comes in all sorts of interesting colours.
    – user5572
    Commented Nov 22, 2021 at 19:50
  • I use blue, green + pink chalk for this purpose.
    – Volfram K
    Commented Nov 23, 2021 at 8:14
  • @Graphus well there we go, I assumed the colored chalk would stick in the pores, but I'll change my answer to include these great suggestions.
    – bowlturner
    Commented Nov 23, 2021 at 16:06

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.