Combination Japanese Marking Gauge

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Project by vipond33 posted 1072 days ago 4376 views 28 times favorited 24 comments Add to Favorites Watch

The proper name for this is “Nihon Sao Suji Kebiki Dai” which, loosely translated, means ” Go to your drawer and find the smallest and loveliest of your saved wood scraps and see if you can’t make a passable tool out of it”. So I did.

I don’t really know what the body is, Kingwood perhaps? but what I do know is that I didn’t have quite enough to do the job. That in itself was fortuitous, for by laminating padauk to the bottoms of the arms and using it for all the trim pieces I am far happier to have it in my hand and in my sight. No Zen master here, just following my accidents.

I press fitted a huge threaded bushing into the thin body (careful!!) and pinned a 1/4 – 20 bolt to the double arched wood end. Drill through both, snap off the drill bit and grind flush. The end of the bolt was freehand ground down to a small tit that seats in the centre of a #1 Robertson machine screw in the pressure plate. This plate pivots ever so slightly to take up any inaccuracies.

The marking/cutting knives are snapped off sections of black (super sharp) Olfa disposable blades. Always keen, always available, and Japanese to boot! There is an imperceptible bias on these towards the fence, keeping it tight to the work. As I use this tool only on flat stock the fence was made quite low and thus able to mark very thin pieces while still on the bench. The finish is shellac and wax.

Oh yes, I did screw up badly as you can see in the last picture – the bottom face was glued on backwards. Which, loosely translated, means I’m a real doofus sometimes.

6” x 6 1/4” x 3/4”
About 16 hrs.
Build on LJ’s.

-- gene@toronto.ontario.canada : dovetail free since '53, critiques always welcome.

24 comments so far

View smitty22's profile


592 posts in 1572 days

#1 posted 1072 days ago

Gene, I love your translation and the end result, just beautiful!
Got a big ‘yuck’ out of your Ford Ranger blue ovals too.


-- Smitty

View NormG's profile


4088 posts in 1629 days

#2 posted 1072 days ago

Great tool, wonderfully done

-- Norman

View dakremer's profile


2449 posts in 1717 days

#3 posted 1072 days ago

looks like a great tool! Wish I had the time/wood to make my own homemade tools. Being a poor college kid, i neither have the time or the money (wood) to do this! This is an inspiration to when (some day) I DO have the means of actual fine woodworking! haha. Thanks for sharing!

-- Hey you dang woodchucks, quit chucking my wood!!!!

View vipond33's profile


1405 posts in 1123 days

#4 posted 1072 days ago

An end view by request

-- gene@toronto.ontario.canada : dovetail free since '53, critiques always welcome.

View AttainableApex's profile


338 posts in 1458 days

#5 posted 1072 days ago


-- Ben L

View peteg's profile


2856 posts in 1448 days

#6 posted 1072 days ago

I’m not a woodworker as such, but I can appreciate the work gone into making this fine looking tool, well done :))

-- Pete G: If you always do what you always did you'll always get what you always got

View FlairWoodworks's profile


71 posts in 1164 days

#7 posted 1072 days ago

Nice pictures. The wood looks like cocobolo to me.

-- Chris Wong -- --

View HawkDriver's profile


447 posts in 1258 days

#8 posted 1072 days ago

I’d bet the farm that is Ziricote. It looks beautiful. Nice work!

-- Patrick, Helicopters don't fly. They beat the air into submission.

View Dusty56's profile


11644 posts in 2313 days

#9 posted 1072 days ago

Beautiful and useful at the same time : )

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View Ken90712's profile


14878 posts in 1814 days

#10 posted 1072 days ago

What a great job on this! Great job!

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View mafe's profile


9483 posts in 1714 days

#11 posted 1072 days ago

That is a beautiful “Nihon Sao Suji Kebiki Dai”, beautiful wood what ever it is, and some really crisp details.
I love it if you have any doubt.
Best thoughts,

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

View mmh's profile


3382 posts in 2347 days

#12 posted 1072 days ago

Beautifully executed despite your mishaps. I agree, that the dark wood looks to be Ziricote, as this species is known for the domed grain pattern seen here. The Padauk gave a nice red tone contrast to the blue/yellow of the Ziricote.

I have tons of interesting scraps, if only the inclination to create such a tool! Could we see some “action” shots?

Is one allowed to use “fortuitous” in the same description with “doofus”?

-- "They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night." ~ Edgar Allan Poe

View woodzy's profile


416 posts in 1304 days

#13 posted 1072 days ago

I have to agree. That is one beautiful looking tool

-- Anthony

View SPalm's profile


4783 posts in 2507 days

#14 posted 1072 days ago

Well, if that ain’t the cat’s meow. Man you have an eye for style.

Very well done,

-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View Don W's profile

Don W

14828 posts in 1193 days

#15 posted 1071 days ago

well, I’ve favorited this to add it to my “to-do” list. I always wanted a tool I couldn’t pronounce. Making my own is even better. Beautiful job.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. -

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