Full Chisel Blog

August 9, 2009

More Compasses

Filed under: Historical Material,Of Interest,Proper Tools,Techniques,The Trade,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 3:23 pm

It is not that I am obsessed with compasses, but I certainly have developed an interest in these overlooked tools.  Here is an interesting ‘pair’ that has the ability to hold a wooden pencil as well as what appears to be its original scribe.  It has a mark of 8 stamped on one arm, it has been sharpened and is now just a little over 7 inches in length.  The scribe appears to have just been moved up and may be more like the original point.

The pivot rivet has brass washers on both sides, all parts are original, but it will need a cleaning before it is in working order.


The next one took me a minute to figure out that it was a scribing compassse or dividers.  The crooked blunt end rides against the side and the scribe makes a mark parallel to the edge.  The advantage of this is that it can scribe around irregular or curved surfaces and transfer a proper score line given the arms are held in the same position throughout the scribe.



  1. “Jenny” or “odd-leg” dividers are very useful layout tools, especially for metalworking. I use my pair for centre finding (set the legs just about at the radius of the circle + a smidge, scribe three arcs, one each from a different point on the circumference – the centre is in the middle of the small triangle that is made where the three arcs intersect – the smaller the ‘smidge’, the smaller the triangle and the more accurate the centre), as well as marking all kinds of offsets from an edge.

    This raises the question of what you use to colour the metal that you are marking – I use marking blue, but I s’pose that white lead was the traditional medium or, if you are cheap, you can use candle soot.

    Comment by Jeremy Kriewaldt — August 9, 2009 @ 5:22 pm

  2. “odd leg” caliper goes by the name “hermaphrodite caliper”

    Comment by Joe — August 9, 2009 @ 7:33 pm

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