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Marking Gauges by Will Myers

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Will Myers

I like simple things.  The marking gauge is just that, simple. 

It is a very useful tool to have and easy to make your own.  They can be made from scrap wood that costs nothing.  They can be just two pieces of wood, one with a tight fitting mortise for the beam to be driven through.

To adjust tap the beam with a mallet to the setting you desire.  Over time this type of gauge will get loose and you will need a wedge or screw to make it stay set.  The best thing to do is to make a wedge type or screw type from the beginning.  I have made three different types of gauges recently, they are the most common types you will run across.

Captive Wedge Gauge

This type of gauge uses a wedge with two little noggins on either end to keep it from falling out of the fence block. Most old gauges I have seen are made of rosewood or beech. From my experience anything fairly hard will do just fine. This gauge is made of some scraps of white oak.

I made the beam first, most gauges the beam is 8 to 10 inches in length and 5/8 to ĺ in. square.  Some gauges have a rounded face on one side to facilitate the rocking of the gauge in the direction it is being pushed or pulled. This is a little harder to make or you can leave it square and set the cutter or pin a little deeper and accomplish the same thing. The beam needs to be square and even thickness down itís length so the fence will not bind while moving back and forth.

With the beam made, next you need a fence. This one is 2in wide and 2in tall and a little over an inch thick. If your piece of wood is big enough leave it long, this makes it much easier to hold while cutting the mortise, or if you are making more than one leave them all together until the mortises are done then saw them apart.

Bore a 5/8in hole thru the center of the block halfway from each side and carefully square it up with a chisel. Take your time here, you want a good fit with as little slop as possible, but still slide up and down the beam easily.

One you have the fence and beam fitted you need to cut the slot for the wedge. The slot needs to be cut parallel with the grain of the fence to prevent it from splitting it. The slot for the wedge tapers slightly thru the fence. I cut this one a ľ in wide.


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