I learned the hard way many, many years ago just how important accurate measurement is, and by that I don't just mean measuring the length of something but also ensuring things are "square" that need to be, and "flat" that need to be. And all this boils down to is a good measurement.

Watch it on Youtube: https://youtu.be/qcsHsPXZ1B0

For years I have resisted the temptation to purchase 1-2-3 blocks, even though I know how accurate and useful they are, but I know by now, in my own woodworking, the only measurement I would be using in one of these blocks would be the 2-inch side, which is why I have shied away from them.

I know many woodworkers who have and use them and I have often wished there were different combinations, but I have yet to find any which made me think, Hey!! I'm a woodworker, I can make my own the fit the kind of woodworking I do.

I started off with some kiln-dried, Hard Maple that has been in my shop for over 15 years so I was pretty sure the moisture content would be about as low as it can go in my environment. Sure enough, I tested it with my trust Wagner Moisture meter and it's just over 9% ... perfect.

Here is a similar version to the Wagner Moisture Meter I have, available from Amazon, with a few fewer features, but equal quality and accuracy

wagner moisture meter

I already knew that the blocks I would be making would be 3/4 inch thick, so cut off a one-foot length of the Maple, then sliced it in half and planned each half down to 3/4" thickness. 

Before I get too far along here, some people are not familiar with 1-2-3 blocks, so here is a picture of a set

You can purchase these 1-2-3 Blocks through my affiliation with Taylor Tools

 1-2-3 blocks

And here is an example of how to use 1-2-3 Blocks on a table saw. 

123 Blocks For Woodworking
I have decided the most useful blocks for "ME" in terms of size are 3/4" x 2" x 4"  and 3/4" x 1-1/4" x 2"
If you watch the video, I explain WHY I picked these sizes, and why they are often the most used of the cuts I make.

1-2-3 Blocks

As I was making these blocks I was wondering what color I should paint them so I would not inadvertently through them in the box trash bin, then I thought about adding a magnet to the back of them and they can now live on the side of my table saw, quick and easy to find and readily available.  

How to Make 123 Blocks

Here is a quick example of the 1-1/4" size I use for legs in many of the furniture pieces I make. I have found the 1.25 inches is a common size and for me, when I am sometimes stuck with only 3/4" stock from the lumber store, the eaisest way to make it thicker is to glue 2 boards together which gives me 1-1/2" inches, but then jointing, planing and sanding that comes down nicely to the 1-1/4" I use so often ... and so do many other furniture makers. (a trick I learned from the Stickley book) 

 And so there you have it ... another option in measuring that will give you an accurate setting every time. If you have ever cut boards at 1-1/4" thinking it was 1-1/2", join the club, most of us have done that at one time or another ... and some of us (me) have done it more than once, but if you have a measuring block you don't make those mistakes ... it's that simple ...

Copyright Colin Knecht