Unlike in normal English; where gag is a verb: in the Theater, gag is a noun. A gag is an artifice by which an action may be made to happen onstage without apparent human intervention – as if by magic, or by coincidence, or for effect (eight times a week.)

In the shops that build the furnishings for plays, and such, it came to mean any particularly clever procedure or gizmo; or the explanation of how some feat was attained. “How was that guillotine gagged; so you didn’t have to replace the actor (eight times a week?)”

What follows are the gags I have personally used and found to be effective. Many of them come down to us from the Ancient Greeks.

Some are part of the “oral tradition” of the Theatrical Carpentry shops where I learned my trade; and others are from the related crafts.

I did not invent or discovery any of these methods. They were shown to me by my colleagues and mentors that I might become a better craftsman. To pay that debt forward I have organized (sort-of) what I know, together with some simple illustrations, that others may partake of the benefits I obtained.

More and more and more we are delegating this work to our tools; they calculate, measure and mill to incredible tolerances. The “Old School” ways are vanishing. Since the new oral tradition is found on the internet; this is my contribution to that cloud choir.

There are those who believe that whoever has the most stuff when he dies; wins. My experience has shown me that: “He who shares, what he has learned the most; wins – before he dies.” I won’t be taking any of this with me; so I’m going to try and leave it somewhere you can find it.

Eli’s Old School Gag Bag:

Compound Rake

Where the rake is the combination of two angles the actual slope of the rake is a transcendent trigonometric function of those two angles. I ran off with the theater to avoid having to deal with algebra; and Trig is Algy’s bigger, meaner older brother.

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I’ve been tossing around terms like; erect a perpendicular, strike an arc; geometry. Unlike what you may have thought in Middle School; Geometry is your friend.

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The 3-4-5 Right Triangle

You would think from all my pontificating about accuracy and precision; that I never use a steel tape.
Not so. A good quality steel tape is the most precise square; you can carry in your tool pouch; that doesn’t require batteries (not included) or come with the warning “Do not gaze into laser aperture with remaining eye.”

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Clever Squaring-Up Jig

The gang from Woodsmith. . .. . .just posted this clever "matching diagonals" squaring up jig. I especially like the "Precision" (no measurement) gag; on which it's based. WoodSmith Tips: Jig For Square Assembly (see...

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