Face Side and Face Edge (Datum) Marks


Right: Oops! Why don’t the grooves line up?


The worker failed to keep the fence of the plough (or router) against the face-edge.

Right: The looped face-side mark shoots off the face and joins the face-edge mark. As well as indicating datum surfaces and showing the mating surfaces for joints, the fs & fe serve as reference faces for fences of machine and hand tools.

Right: They can prevent the kind of error that lead to the 'shovetail' joint on the left. This can happen when novice makers forget to align the face-sides so that they face each other.

Below: As a case where the face-sides are not co-planar. It will not unduly matter if some frame joint tenons and mortises are not quite dead centre, providing that gauging, etc is always done from the datum faces.

Right: Illustrating how a try square should always rest against a datum face.


Providing that the datum faces and the stock of the square are true, the lines should join up, even if the square is not set at a true 90deg.


You could check this with a sliding bevel set to an angle other than 90deg.

Above: These long-standing traditional marks relate to hand woodworking. While the marking of datum faces on one-off machine work is still a desirable practice, it is not always possible to offer a datum face to a machine fence. In this case very accurate thicknessing will avoid the kind of error shown in the framing joint diagram.

A Woodworker’s Notebook

Jeff Gorman

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