Japanese tools #18: Japanese cutting gauge

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Blog entry by mafe posted 12-31-2012 08:12 PM 17847 reads 11 times favorited 17 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 17: Japanese toolbox - update. Part 18 of Japanese tools series Part 19: Kiri hand drill (gimlet) »

Japanese cutting gauge
by mafe’san

So we are back on the Japanese road.
I decided that on the day of New Year’s Eve I needed to make and finish a little wood project that would make me smile.

Here first a drawing I made the night before and then made it after.

This blog starts here.
A wonderful piece of wood from our LJ friend Jusfine Randy.
And not just a piece of wood but also a little message on it for me.
Here you can read about the gift story.
Thank you Randy, and a happy new year to you and the family.

Up on the workbench where wood is supposed to be!

Marking up the basic layout.
I want a cutting gauge, wedge locking and using standard Stanley knife blades.

I predrill a series of holes with a kiri (I will tell more about this in another blog).

A quite effective Japanese hand drill.

So time for playing with Japanese tools.

Basically just shy of the final size, removing wood as fast as possible, while enjoying the time.

Like this.
I prefer to take half from each side and hope by careful marking to reach dead on.

And finally like so.

Time to separate the tool from the wood.
I like to use a back saw for the initial cut (this time more than plenty).

Then time for a rip saw – the rough side of the blade.

And the final cross cut.

Then I make a few cuts to define the basic shape.

This is close enough before the chisel.

Marking up for the blade arm.
making a good deep marking on both sides so the saw have a guide.

And rip away.

Time to unwrap a plane.

And make some shaves.

And chamfer the edges.

To make the body nice to hold and beautiful to look at I round the top.

Here we have the basics ready.

Time to make a wedge.

A series of cuts always make it easier to use the chisel without tear out.

Shaping with the chisel.

And cutting of the wedge.

Thickness is adjusted shave by shave.

Until there is a good fit.

Each end of the wedge has a surface for the push locking.

Again I play with my kiri, love this tool.

Brake of some Stanley blades.

Sawing a slice for the blade with a coping saw (perhaps not so Japanese…).

Here it is!

The blade exposed.

The final touch is my logo burned into the end of the cutting gauge.

Time to test.
Some deep cuts into e piece of wood.

The Japanese break the wood with a hammer once the cutting is done on both sides.

Yes! It Works justfine!

Then just cleaning the split and all is fine.

Finally a picture of the new cutting gauge, another homemade tool for my tool box.

Hope this can bring some inspiration to others that play with Japanese tools and work methods, who knows maybe a new year’s wish.

Best thoughts and a happy new year,


-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

17 comments so far

View mafe's profile


11741 posts in 3237 days

#1 posted 12-31-2012 08:26 PM

ohhh yes Randy I loved the smell of the wood!

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View lew's profile


12326 posts in 3903 days

#2 posted 12-31-2012 08:33 PM

Very neat build! Thanks for the photo essay, Mads!

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View pendledad's profile


190 posts in 2237 days

#3 posted 12-31-2012 08:37 PM

I’m always amazed at your work. Thanks for the inspiration.

This reminded me about four 8’ long wide pine boards that I reclaimed from my old garage shelves. I’ll be turning some of that lumber into a Japanese toolbox to hold my ryoba/dozuki/squares/chisels.

Keep up the awesome work! Thanks for sharing.

View fissionchips's profile


99 posts in 2605 days

#4 posted 12-31-2012 08:49 PM

Thanks for sharing, it’s always fun to see your photos. Is that western white oak?
My project for today is a red cedar box to store japanese chisels.

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 3451 days

#5 posted 12-31-2012 08:57 PM

its a beauty mads…i always enjoy seeing you use just hand tools, when it comes down to it, thats what its all about really…thank you…grizz

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View Don W's profile

Don W

18966 posts in 2715 days

#6 posted 12-31-2012 09:54 PM

Mads, I always find myself smiling by the end of your blogs. Thank You!

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View kiefer's profile


5619 posts in 2814 days

#7 posted 12-31-2012 09:55 PM

You are a great inspiration and a great blog on another fine tool .

Happy New year and all the best for 2013

-- Kiefer

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3263 days

#8 posted 12-31-2012 11:46 PM

thanks Mads … inspiring as always :-)

happy new year to you and Matilde

take care

View patron's profile


13630 posts in 3488 days

#9 posted 01-01-2013 12:12 AM

another great tool blog mads

and a new tool too

well done

happy new year !

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View Dez's profile


1166 posts in 4225 days

#10 posted 01-01-2013 02:41 AM

Lately you are the master of how to blogs! I admire you!
I always forget to take pictures till I am almost done!
Nice marking gauge!

-- Folly ever comes cloaked in opportunity!

View stefang's profile


15950 posts in 3482 days

#11 posted 01-01-2013 12:21 PM

Great how to blog. I just realized that mine is a little different than yours Mads as it has two cutters for marking mortises and tenons. I have to admit that I don’t much like double bladed gauges anyway as they never seem to work as well as intended and they are fussy to set up. It could be a brain problem and not the gauge!

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Jim Rowe's profile

Jim Rowe

1051 posts in 2460 days

#12 posted 01-01-2013 06:37 PM

Excellent blog! Definitely added to the “To Do” list. How is the blade held in place? Do you have a small wedge there?

-- It always looks better when it's finished!

View mafe's profile


11741 posts in 3237 days

#13 posted 01-01-2013 08:17 PM

Hi ho,
No the blade is just held by the fact that the hole is smaller, so self wedging.

I was insired by this one that was on e-bay.

Thank you all for the kind words, it is me that smiles now,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View jusfine's profile


2422 posts in 3073 days

#14 posted 01-02-2013 01:58 AM

Mads, I have been away from my computer (spending time in the shop), and just saw your post now – I am so glad you made something useful from the scrap, and that you like the smell too!

There are only a few that I really enjoy the odor of when I am cutting, Sassafras is one of them.

Great Blog! All the best in the New Year!

-- Randy "You are judged as much by the questions you ask as the answers you give..."

View DaddyZ's profile


2475 posts in 3188 days

#15 posted 01-02-2013 03:47 PM

Very Cool Looking Tool…

& it comes from the Heart with the wood…

-- Pat - Worker of Wood, Collector of Tools, Father of one

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