Great Gear: Clever Design Aids

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This article is from Issue 109 of Woodcraft Magazine.

Golden Mean Calipers 3 sizes,, from $35.00

When I teach turning classes, one of the questions that comes up a lot is: “How do you make things look right proportionally?” For example, where should the dividing cut go when turning a lidded box? One good way to determine this is to use the “golden mean,” a ratio of 1:1.618 that is found frequently in nature. It’s also the basis of a number of mathematical constructs, including the Fibonacci sequence. But short of breaking out a calculator, figuring out what these measurements actually are when you’re standing at the lathe is a bit tricky. To make this a lot easier, I use this special set of calipers. Made in three sizes by New Zealand craftsman Nick Taylor, these delightful measuring instruments have three legs that move in unison. Set the outer two to the overall length of your piece, and the inner leg divides the space in between using the golden mean. Very clever, Mr. Taylor. If you struggle with proportions when designing, these calipers may help you to produce better-looking work. 

—Ken Burton


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