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Mortise gauge

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Forum topic by Tim posted 02-20-2013 03:26 AM 1497 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Tim

1382 posts in 705 days


02-20-2013 03:26 AM

My guess is anyone that goes to auctions or flea markets finds lots of these in useable condition for reasonable prices, but on Ebay they seem to go for high prices in not very good condition.

Does anyone have a useable mortise gauge they could part with at a fair price? Not having one is really holding me up getting my workbench and projects built. The other tools that would finish off my short list are a dovetail saw and a coping saw, but I think I can find decent deals on those.

I’m a new woodworker, but I didn’t want to post in Don's block plane thread because I have a block plane and other people there are more deserving. Besides an odd project here and there with borrowed tools, I started woodworking just after this last Christmas, when I bought myself a Stanley #5, and then got a good deal on a carpenter’s chest full of many of the rest of the hand tools I need. I’ve enjoyed whatever chances I’d had to do woodworking all my life starting in cub scouts and such, but always lived in an apartment until a few years ago. Now that my kids are toddlers I have just a little bit of time to make some shavings and create something. Just not enough time to hit the flea markets, auctions, and garage sales.

I’m also guessing that lots of new wood workers are in the same boat I am needing a decent useable mortise gauge.


11 replies so far

View Mark Kornell's profile

Mark Kornell

631 posts in 1274 days


#1 posted 02-20-2013 05:02 AM

Tim, a mortise gauge is a pretty simple thing. Might be a good project to make one.

Failing that, Harbor Freight has one for $10 – http://www.harborfreight.com/6-inch-mortise-gauge-94645.html. Won’t say its great, but it will get you started.

You can probably pick up a cheap coping saw there, too (Hmm…. http://www.harborfreight.com/6-inch-coping-saw-with-blades-94848.html).

-- Mark Kornell, Kornell Wood Design

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Holbs

594 posts in 773 days


#2 posted 02-20-2013 05:28 AM

Tim..
i was in your position a month or so ago. training myself on mortise and tenons joints without a marking gauge of any sort, but instead relying on a pencil and measuring tape.
I ordered a quality mortise gauge and waited for it to arrive. well, i couldnt wait :) i used a caliper depth gauge and a exacto knife to mark & score where i needed to hit. much much better results. almost to the point where i questioned getting a mortise gauge in the first place til i realized using the mortise gauge is even more accurate and swifter.

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Tim

1382 posts in 705 days


#3 posted 02-20-2013 01:49 PM

Thanks guys. Mark, I didn’t think Harbor Freight would carry a mortice gauge, that’s a good tip. It doesn’t give me warm fuzzy feelings to buy there but at just barely more than the cost of someone shipping one to me it looks like that will fit the need for now. I have a HF close to me but no woodworking stores. From the reviews it appears solidly built, just needs some work on the finish and wax which I can do easily.

I definitely considered making one but with the available tools and scrap parts I have it was going to be an ordeal to make a two pin slider. I’d spend more than $10 in parts.

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sikrap

1062 posts in 2103 days


#4 posted 02-20-2013 03:36 PM

If you do go to HF, try to get one that has a brass (or other metal) face plate. It might not seem like it matters, but (IMHO) it will really help not only with the longevity of the gauge, but the accuracy. If you don’t find one at HF, drop me a PM. I have a bunch of them and could sell you one at a fair price.

-- Dave, Colonie, NY

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Tim

1382 posts in 705 days


#5 posted 02-20-2013 05:56 PM

Thanks Dave. What is a fair price for these? Is finding them in good condition for a few bucks just as rare as finding any other tool for a few bucks or is ebay out of whack for some reason on these?

The HF one appears to have metal inserts from the picture, but not a full metal face plate. It also appears to have a limited depth in from the edge of the material that it can mark. I’ll check it out in a day or so if I get a chance then let you all know how it is.

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Tim

1382 posts in 705 days


#6 posted 02-21-2013 04:54 AM

So the HF mortise gauge was pretty awful. Of the ten or so they had in the store, I picked the best one. The rest had the hole for the sliding arm cut too large and not well. But it still has a bend to the arm which is impressive for 6” long, the face is at an off angle too, and the pins aren’t consistent length and sharpness. The “brass” slider is indeed only long enough to allow for a mortice just under 1 1/2” from the edge as well. Definitely fits into the “no wonder it’s cheap” category. If they had more, maybe I could have gotten a better one or gotten lucky.

View Mark Kornell's profile

Mark Kornell

631 posts in 1274 days


#7 posted 02-21-2013 07:26 PM

Now I’m sorry I suggested it. I have what looks to be the same one, as sold by Princess Auto here in Canada, and other than needing to sharpen the pins, it was quite decent out of the box.

-- Mark Kornell, Kornell Wood Design

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Tim

1382 posts in 705 days


#8 posted 02-24-2013 03:04 AM

Don’t feel bad at all Mark, I really appreciate the suggestion. They just didn’t have very good quality control. Worse than average for HF stuff even, and you couldn’t have known that, especially if yours was ok. An LJer has a gauge on the way to me so I should be in good shape. Thanks all.

View Wally331's profile

Wally331

292 posts in 769 days


#9 posted 02-24-2013 06:18 AM

Hey Tim, you could always disassemble the cheap gauge and use the hardware to make your own. I know of a few people who have done that, and buying those parts separately will still probably be more expensive than the Harbor Freight gauge.

View sikrap's profile

sikrap

1062 posts in 2103 days


#10 posted 02-24-2013 03:58 PM

Its really hard to say what a fair price is because different areas of the country have different prices because of availability. Here in the northeast, tools are relatively common. If you go to the southhwest, tools are much harder to find and that drives the price up. It all boils down to what you think is fair for you. A perfect example is the 98 that’s being auctioned off. I believe that went for $55, which is almost 3 times what I would sell one for. Granted, this was auctioned for a very good cause and I’m sure that boosted the price a bit, but you get my point.

-- Dave, Colonie, NY

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Tim

1382 posts in 705 days


#11 posted 02-25-2013 12:53 AM

That’s a good point Dave, I guess I didn’t think of that since there are a fair amount available around me if I could go hunting. And yeah I might have done that Wally if I wasn’t really impatient to put it to use and get my workbench going. I also would go back and pick the one with the best pins instead of the best fitting wood parts.
Thanks for all the help everyone.

Tim

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