Story pole/stick dimensions and construction details

This question is for people that USE story sticks. There are many posts on the rec that talk about what they are.
Many posts talk about story sticks. I use them on any fairly complex, detailed project. None of the posts seem to discuss details of construction. I know some people just pick up a stick that is convenient (That is what I have done so far), but I am sure some people have been more meticulous. Those are the ones I want to answer a few questions.
My question for these people:
Has there ever been an article talking about details of making a story stick?
What dimensions (width, thickness) have you found to be best (I find that I could use more room to make markings sometimes)? Do you use a square cross section or do you make the stick rectangular to make it easier to identify what dimensions are front, back, etc.
Do you use more than one in a project (say, one for height and depth and one for length?). I use one for depth and height and one for length (the length dimension is large and makes it combersome to work with for depth and height).
Any special way you mark/label the dimensions to identify them?
What material do you recommend? I find that a smooth, light, hard surface would be best. Maybe maple?
Any other ideas?
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Yes.
Sharpie marker. I just write the dimensions and/or what it is for.

I use 1/8" masonite, 1/4" luan, 3/4" pine, 1/2" MDF or what is handy and works at the time. I usually pot a coat of shellac on them to keep them a little cleaner. Any project I think I may make again gets a stick or a template.
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I typically use a straight piece of 1x2 pine for story sticks/boards/poles, but it depends on the situation. The number used depends on the complexity of the project. I'm in the middle or residing my house (fiber cement) and I'm cheating the courses using two different 1X2 story poles. The house is actually a house with an addition and the addition construction is so different from the main house that a single story pole wasn't viable.
As concerns markings, I use a pencil. In some cases the marks are little more than elevations (siding) but a profile may be sketched also. Note that the story board may need to be wider than a 1X2 if the profile is wider. In the case of the siding I also put a level reference on the house and story poles to cope with the transitions between sections of the house and to deal with physical out of level conditions, e.g., to get the first course on in the right place and cope with level variance across windows and doors (it's all a compromise).
John
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These handy, and time tested, devices seem to have fallen out of use in recent years with the advent of easily available tape measures. Years ago, in my grandfather's shop, I saw stacks of "story" sticks that, from any one, you could build an entire, and identical, piece of furniture.
Done properly, accuracy is better than with a tape measure. When building and installing cabinets, new or additions, I generally make one specifically for the _exact_ locations and width of the various pipes and receptacles, with both horizontal and vertical marks..
Nothing special as far as material, just whatever is handy. I keep mine on the thin side so that it is easier to transfer marks ... a 1 x 4 is almost always laying around somewhere. If one is too short, I will often use two with a reference mark on both for alignment.
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I have found that a tape measure does not come close to what a story stick can do. Once in a while, I find myself reaching for a tape measure and thinking how many times I am going to double check myself to make sure I am not making a wrong cut by not concentrating on what I am doing. A story stick gives me the confidence that I am making the right cut, because the mark was made when I put the plan on it and I KNOW it is right if I was planning it right at the time. After using the mark once, a repeated measurement in another area of the project (the back, for example) is precise because it is taken from the exact same mark and does not have to be found again on a tape measure.
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snipped-for-privacy@nospam.com writes:

Thank you so much for saying that! Too bad my ex isn't reading.<g> He used to be quite upset with me because I didn't use the tape measure and, instead, used a story stick. Only I didn't know it was a story stick, just that I knew it gave me accurate results. In my ignorance I did the right thing, relying on logic. Gawd, that gives me a mite of satisfaction. :-)
In fact, right now, I have two story sticks (actually one with appropriate markings for two pieces) in my garage from the shelves I made for my middle son and his wife for Christmas so subsequent ones will match exactly. On the shelves I made, 32" high to fit under their windows, I fastened the bases with screws so they could be removed if they ever wanted to stack them rather than have them side-by-side. Probably not conventional, and certainly not fine furniture making, but very utilitarian (aka practical). Since they wanted them painted, they certainly would never be an heirloom anyway.
BTW, the granddaughters have taken over 2/3 of one shelf unit when their mom didn't get all of her Braille cookbooks on it in the first couple of days. These shelves were so necessary; her Bible takes up six feet of shelf space. Most of us just don't give these things a thought, how one relatively small book, just inches thick for the rest of us can be several feet "thick" for someone else.
Thanks, folks, for the reinforcement that my ignorance and good sense led to me doing a tried and true method of measuring. :-)
Glenna
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"Glenna Rose" wrote in message

<snip>
Maybe it should be renamed a "logic stick"? :)
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Sat, Jan 22, 2005, 11:35pm (EST-3) snipped-for-privacy@pmug.org (GlennaRose) snipped-for-privacy@nospam.com says: <snip> Thanks, folks, for the reinforcement that my ignorance <snip>
No problem. We'll be very happy to reinforce your ignorance at any time.
JOAT Charity ain't giving people what you wants to give, it's giving people what they need to get. - Albert
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On 22 Jan 2005 06:46:28 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

It's a piece of whatever wood is handy, strips of MDF and plywood come to mind. I usually have 6-8' strips of 3/4" MDF and plywood in my garbage bin. I leave it unfinished so it's easier to write on.
It's not something where details matter, and you probably can't do it wrong.
Barry
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On Sun, 23 Jan 2005 13:55:33 GMT, Ba r r y

Maybe you can't, but I can ! First I used a scrap that was way too thick and wide, and I had trouble handling it and getting the marks to line up accurately. Next, I tried a thinner piece that was too dark, and I couldn't read my marks properly. So for my next set of matching drawers, I used the inner side of a planed bamboo lath to copy the dovetails. That worked, but it was too thin this time, and hard to hold accurately on the workpiece.
So I now use scraps of pine or fir, about 2" wide by 1/4" thick. I'm going to try again with bamboo for small pieces (stable, cheap and easy to mark), but I'll use a thicker-walled species.
only one p in my real address / un seul p dans ma vritable adresse
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

From what I gather, a "Story Stick" is called a "Rod" in Australia. If this is the case, I have used hundreds of them, especially when making kitchens, bathroom Vanities etc.. I used to cut up quite a few 8' lengths of 3/16" (Ply, Mdf, Backing,)material about 6" wide. On one side, would mark all the "Plan" positions eg. Doors, styles, dividers etc., Opposite that would mark Back insert depths, holes in backs etc.. Then flip the Rod over and mark height measurements and depth measurements. If the unit was longer than 8' then we'd just join 2 pieces together. The only problem with Rods is, if you're the measurer, and the Rod Maker there is nowhere for the buck to go but you :). John
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snipped-for-privacy@webtv.net writes:

Thank you. :-)
Of course you realize, don't you, some/much of my ignorance is also being removed by education?
Glenna
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Tue, Jan 25, 2005, 9:40pm (EST-3) snipped-for-privacy@pmug.org (GlennaRose) says: Of course you realize, don't you, some/much of my ignorance is also being removed by education?
That's a very primitave way of doing it.
JOAT Some is good, more is better, too much is just enough. - Unknown
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Greetings,
I have learned the hard way, cut the end of the stick square to the length.
Also useful sometimes, attach a block or washer to the end of the stick so you can hook the stick onto what ever you want to mark dimensions.
Do not get too clever with abbreviations. You might not remember them months later. Write real words and descriptions.
Sincerely, Bill Thomas
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Thank you, Bill, for the washer hint, such an obvious thing but overlooked. :-)
There used to be a building inspector in our town named Bill Thomas. Good person as I remember.
Glenna
Bill snipped-for-privacy@hp.com writes:

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