Shop's Log #2: More marking gauges

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by terryR posted 11-09-2013 12:59 AM 2547 reads 2 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: Chip-Carving Style Knife Part 2 of Shop's Log series Part 3: Warming Closet »

More marking gauges? Yes, I made a few for practice during the Marking Gauge Swap this past Spring…


...and Rambutan…

I soon changed out that black steel thumbscrew above for one of shiny brass, though!
And, finally, this one came out good enough for a gift…

(made from Bubinga and brass, and a shop-made O1 steel blade. heavy, heavy)

So….why ANOTHER one? Hmmmm……….for practice. My shop skills seem rusty since I’ve been swinging a framing hammer and mowing grass all summer. So, I thought completing this gauge would get me back in the swing, and give me another user. I mean, who has enough marking gauges? LOL

I had already formed the beam this past Spring from Black Cherry, and roughed out the fence, so I had done most of the work. Unfortunately, I was too quick with chopping out this mortise, and it had issues.

Luckily, this new (to me!) Brown and Sharp depth gauge let me see where my mortice was too proud or too non-existent. Gotta admit…I read the idea from The Schwarz in an article about diagnosing dovetail problems. I sure wish I had owned one of these guys during the swap!

I could tell I needed to add a tiny shim on one edge to square up the mortise, so chose a sliver of Bocote that was in already the tool tray, and mixed up some epoxy. Love my tool tray…I could just about use one all the way around the bench! LOL

Another new tool my wife surprised me with for our Anniversary this year, was a 1/2” LN float. What a sweet tool…with teeth cut into only one of the four edges, it’s great at removing material just where you want. Night and day difference over my borg files which had shop-made ‘safety edges’! Plus, these floats can be sharpened with triangular files…wink, wink, nudge, nudge.

I modified the mortice slowly…aiming for accuracy. I mean, I wanna be a tool-maker, ya know! LOL

Wow, that’s pretty close to balls-on square with reference to the front of the fence. I’ll take it!

But, the beam was still a bit tight moving through the fence, and I wanted it smooth for an easy to use gauge. I forced the 2 parts together, back and forth a dozen times, until I could spot the burnished sections of wood that had rubbed together…

Then, simply used hand-held 400 grit sandpaper to remove the shiny areas of wood, all the way around the beam. I repeated this procedure 3 or 4 times until I was happy with the freely moving parts.

From here, I chose to kill a few electrons and square up the sides of the fence at the disc sander…

Hate to admit it to my hand tool buddies, but I love this tool. 1 horsepower and a nice milled table make it pretty easy to remove wood right to the line. Only problem is the dust…cough…cough…cough…

I liked my ‘new’ depth gauge so much, I decided to copy the shape onto the top corners of this fence.

Again, I used electrical tools with noisy motors to sand the waste into a billion little air-borne particles that are still floating around in the air of my shop…and settling on my beloved hand tools. I swear, I feel as though I spend 20% of my shop time either looking for my glasses OR wiping down tools. LOL

Now, that the wooden parts of the gauge were working in order, I turned my attention to the marking part of the tool. I chose my favorite marking item…a broken HSS drill bit. Wow, I wish I could find a lot of broken drill bits on fleaBay cheap…I’m sure most folks throw them out.

I roughed out a pointy end with the grinder, then used the best method I know for sharpening steel rods. A cordless drill and DMT’s. Above, you can my fancy sharpening station…5 DMT’s on a piece of non-slip rubber shelf liner. Works great! I frequently move the stones around to use different areas, so I kinda like them free like this. Yeah, it looks like dirt.

To capture the sharpened bit in the gauge, I like using a set screw. Cheap and easy. Now, which size hole for the 10-32 threads?

LOL. I’m sure you guys have these blocks of wood in your shop, too. Mine get dusty, but never thrown away! Too much stored information…so, a .149 drill bit, please. Then, threads get tapped easily into the Black Cherry…

Of course, my 1/2” set screws captured the marking pin, but stuck out of the beam ‘this much’ when tightened. How much is this much? Doesn’t matter. Depth gauge says ‘this much’…so I mark that much off the OTHER end of the set screw with blue tape and head back to the grinder for stock removal. And, why do I place emphasis on the OTHER end? Hmmm…I’ll let you guys find that one out the same way I did. LOL

So, here’s the finished tool…

HSS, Black Cherry, Brass, and a tiny piece of Bocote. Hand-sanded as usual to a ridiculous 1500 grit, then finished with 2 coats of fine wax. It’s, by far, the best marking gauge I’ve made so far! No brass inlay, or sliding dovetail joints, but this tool is tight and square. And, it fits nicely in me hand.

But, I still need to practice on stamping the finished tool. Oh well, maybe this can appear one day on kneeBay, “Vintage marking gauge, Estate find, Shop-made, stamped 2013”. And, some bloke will buy it for the brass. LOL.

Speaking of brass…

here’s another gauge I made this past Spring. Purpleheart and Beech laminated to form the mortice. Tested, but never used, although I used it to make the Black Cherry one. Same HSS marking pin as you just saw.
As I said, who can have enough marking gauges?

Time to move up to panel gauges! LOL

Comments and suggestions welcomed:

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

10 comments so far

View ShaneA's profile


6912 posts in 2568 days

#1 posted 11-09-2013 01:16 AM

Good stuff Terry. Looks like you need 2 or 3 more to round out the collection.

View AnthonyReed's profile


9670 posts in 2409 days

#2 posted 11-09-2013 01:30 AM

Your blogs are fantastic Terry. I really enjoy reading them. Beautiful work.

-- ~Tony

View Handtooler's profile


1544 posts in 2101 days

#3 posted 11-09-2013 01:53 AM

WOW! Truely inspirational. Really like the broken drill bit in place of a sharpened finishing nail for the srcibe; and the set screw securing it is wonderful. Many many thanks for sharing.

-- Russell Pitner Hixson, TN 37343

View waho6o9's profile


8168 posts in 2546 days

#4 posted 11-09-2013 02:57 AM

Most excellent work Terry.

View Don Broussard's profile

Don Broussard

3531 posts in 2221 days

#5 posted 11-09-2013 04:26 AM

Glad you got some quality shop time, Terry. You made some really handsome gauges, there.

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

View CFrye's profile


10143 posts in 1809 days

#6 posted 11-09-2013 06:59 AM

Thanks for the info Terry. I really like the Rambutan and brass one! Wish I’d read this last week before I tossed that piece of broken drill bit (knew I should have held on to it)!

-- God bless, Candy

View Don W's profile

Don W

18686 posts in 2537 days

#7 posted 11-09-2013 11:49 AM

very nice tools Terry. Some Bridge City likeness there.

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

View Brit's profile


7369 posts in 2812 days

#8 posted 11-09-2013 07:37 PM

Looks like you’ve got a marking gauge for every occasion there Terry. Very nice.

-- - Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

View mafe's profile


11643 posts in 3058 days

#9 posted 11-10-2013 04:40 PM

Wonderful blog Terry.
I love the last picture!
Best thoughts,

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

View TerryDowning's profile


1076 posts in 2087 days

#10 posted 11-11-2013 04:06 PM

Nice write up TR.

-- - Terry

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics