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  Its name is Mullet...  by James E. Price 1 of 4  

Yesterday in a post (Facebook-Unplugged Woodworkers) I mentioned a "mullet" that I used to test the thickness of the bottom board and sliding lid of a case.


Apparently the term was one many of you had never heard before in the context of joinery.

I learned what a mullet was from some of my old mentors who had been finish carpenters and cabinetmakers. The first time I heard the term and saw the actual tool made and used was 1957 when Harvey Johnson, Chester Pierce, and my pa made a little case to hold a basketball trophy our team had won at The Pratt School where I got my primary education.

Harvey was a professional woodworker and did the joinery. I got to watch the process of making a sliding back for the case so the trophy could be easily put in and took out. Harvey said we needed a mullet and made one to gauge the rabbeted margins of the back board. Then, I, at the tender age of 13 years, got to see him use it.

After the questions yesterday, I began to think that Harvey had made the word up and since he could not read nor write, thought he might have misinterpreted what he had heard and maybe the word was "gullet".

Last night I did some research and after several Web searches finally scored. "Mullet" is the name for a carpenter's thickness gauge of the kind I make and use. The name comes from the French word, "molet" which is a small piece of wood with a groove cut in, which the carpenter brought to the panel to check the thickness". Another French word, "moulet" has the same meaning. So here's to you, Harvey. You were right. To read more about this tool, hit this link. A nod to Chris Hall for getting this information out in 2012.

The top mullet is one I have from years ago. I made a fancy one a few years ago with mother-of-pearl and piano key ivory inlays.

This is a top view of my mullets for gauging 1/4th inch thickness.

Tip of the slanted end of my mullet.

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