Marking Gauge Swap

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Project by Don Broussard posted 415 days ago 907 views 2 times favorited 17 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is the marking gauge I made for the LJ Marking Gauge Tool Swap for fellow LJ JayT. This is my first time in an LJ Tool Swap, so my gauge is functional, but not as polished as the other fantastic tools made by other participants. The wood is purple heart, and it comes from my brother’s service in the US Army in Afghanistan. The wood was in the dumpster after having been used under outriggers on heavy machinery. He brought a couple of pieces back with him once his deployment was over.

I laminated a few pieces together, cross grained, for the fence. Since I used the captive wedge design, I included a 6 degree space in the laminations so it would be smooth. The practice gauge I made had an irregular face made via chiseling and filing, and I didn’t want my “real” gauge to have irregularities. I made the beam similarly with purple heart laminations. I sized the beam via hand planing, trying to avoid splintering. After the beam was sized, I marked the mortise in the fence, cut the bulk of the material out with a Forstner bit, then finished the mortise with hand chisels and/or filing.

I made two blades out of one jig saw blade, filing one to a point, and the other as a fingernail shape. The third blade was a full-length jigsaw blade shaped to a point. The blade is also held via a small wedge in the beam, also with a 6 degree angle. No finish applied to the gauge or wedges—only Johnson’s Paste Wax was used.

In the south Louisiana tradition of “lagniappe”, I included a spare purple heart wedge each for the beam wedge and the blade wedge.

I know I mentioned this in previous posts, but if you get a chance to participate in future LJ swaps, please seriously consider doing so. I found this marking gauge swap a great opportunity to challenge myself to try new skills. It was neat personalizing the gauge for JayT, and I am glad he found it useful.

EDIT: Thanks to JayT for providing the finished pictures. I forgot to take photos before I boxed it up and mailed it!

-- People say I hammer like lightning. It's not that I'm fast -- it's that I never hit the same place twice!

17 comments so far

View Don W's profile

Don W

14821 posts in 1192 days

#1 posted 415 days ago

Purple heart from a dumpster. It doesn’t get much better than that. It looks great. I agree the swaps are a lot of fun.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. -

View whitebeast88's profile


3465 posts in 814 days

#2 posted 415 days ago

very nice i’m sure jayt will be proud to have it.

-- Marty.Athens,AL

View Mosquito's profile (online now)


4588 posts in 916 days

#3 posted 415 days ago

Like the story behind the purple heart. Nice assortment of spare cutters and wedges too :-)

-- Mos - Twin Cities, MN -- Stanley #45 Evangelist -

View terryR's profile


3034 posts in 933 days

#4 posted 415 days ago

I like it a lot, DonB! The story on the wood is great.

-- tr ...see one, do one, teach one...

View JayT's profile


2166 posts in 835 days

#5 posted 415 days ago

whitebeast, I am. Don can be modest about “polish”, but the gauge works great—easy to set and nice and square. It has already been used quite a bit on my workbench build. The backstory on the wood just makes it more special. I mean, how many other gauges have been halfway around the world with the US Army?

Don in reply to your post on the tool swap thread, yes the wedge is in deep to lock the fence. I think the humidity difference from Louisiana to Kansas had quite a bit to do with that, as it fit more centered when I first opened it.

-- "The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money." Alexis de Tocqueville, 1835

View bondogaposis's profile


2478 posts in 975 days

#6 posted 415 days ago

Really nice gauge Dan, great story on the purple heart. Think about it, South America, Afghanistan, Louisiana, Kansas. Where hasn’t that wood been?

-- Bondo Gaposis

View HillbillyShooter's profile


4475 posts in 916 days

#7 posted 415 days ago

Nice job—looks good!

-- John C. -- "Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth." George Washington

View waho6o9's profile


4821 posts in 1201 days

#8 posted 415 days ago

Nice work Don!

View gfadvm's profile


10711 posts in 1314 days

#9 posted 415 days ago

I loved the fact that you used wood with a story/history.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View Don Broussard's profile

Don Broussard

1925 posts in 876 days

#10 posted 415 days ago

@Bondo—I didn’t think about that! JayT’s marking gauge has more passport stamps than I do!

@JayT—I’ll make a couple of extra beam wedges for you. Do you need the blade wedges too? I’ll toss a couple of them in the package for you.

All—Thanks for the compliments. It was fun to participate in the swap. After seeing the projects posted, I feel like a man among giants!

-- People say I hammer like lightning. It's not that I'm fast -- it's that I never hit the same place twice!

View ShaneA's profile


5285 posts in 1222 days

#11 posted 415 days ago

Looks good, plus a great story. What more could there be?

View Mauricio's profile


6798 posts in 1776 days

#12 posted 415 days ago

Great gauge Don! Great idea on laminating in both directions to make the mortises.

-- Mauricio - Woodstock, GA - "Confusion is the Womb of Learning, with utter conviction being it's Tomb" Prof. T.O. Nitsch

View eddie's profile


7197 posts in 1238 days

#13 posted 415 days ago

great looking purple heart gauge and story , got to try the swap sounds like fun

-- Jesus Is Alright with me

View Hammerthumb's profile


1196 posts in 599 days

#14 posted 414 days ago

Difficult wood to work. You did a fantastic job!

-- Paul, Las Vegas

View Dave's profile


11149 posts in 1464 days

#15 posted 411 days ago

Don lots of little parts and pieces there. Looking good and PURPLE.
Nice work my friend, it should serve well for many years to come.

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are."

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