Do you use both a marking gauge and a cutting gauge?

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Forum topic by HarveyDunn posted 11-12-2013 06:10 PM 1130 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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328 posts in 1724 days

11-12-2013 06:10 PM

Question for handtool workers: I’m been told I need a marking gauge (meaning it has a sharp pointy pin) and a cutting gauge (meaning it has a knife with a flat side and a bevel side). The marking gauge is for marking with the grain; the cutting gauge is for marking across the grain.

Do you actually find that you need both?

What I have in mind are the all-wood constructions that have a fence that rides up and down a central beam.

What about the all-metal wheel-type gauges that have a round fence and a round cutter – can they do the work of both?

6 replies so far

View TerryDowning's profile


1077 posts in 2110 days

#1 posted 11-12-2013 06:28 PM

By your definition all I currently have is a marking gauge. Actually a finishing nail filed to a point and kept sharp with a small diamond file. It works for me with and cross grain.

I do admit it does not leave as nice of a mark working cross grain but it is more precise than a pencil.

-- - Terry

View alohafromberkeley's profile


257 posts in 2397 days

#2 posted 11-12-2013 08:38 PM

I don’t have a wheeled gauge.I have an inexpensive pin gauge that I converted to a cutting gauge- knocked out pin and fitted in an inexpensive carving blade. On the other side of the beam I drilled a hole for a pencil so I can draw parallel lines. One of these days I have to get myself a real Japanese Kebiki so I can slit thin stock for inlays.

-- "After a year of doing general farmwork, it was quite clear to me that chickens and I were not compatible"-George Nakashima

View Don W's profile

Don W

18707 posts in 2561 days

#3 posted 11-12-2013 10:28 PM

I never heard the difference the way you explained it, but I like the pin type (or marking gauge as you describe it). I just like the way it marks better for both with and across.

The short answer to your question is no you don’t need both.

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

View Tim's profile


3802 posts in 1954 days

#4 posted 11-13-2013 12:35 AM

I’ve read the same advice you did Harvey, and happen to have both, but you definitely don’t need both. I don’t even keep the cutting gauge nearby ready to use. The descriptions of the wheeled gauges are that they are very nice, but I’m not likely to buy one at this point.

View Robert Tutsky's profile

Robert Tutsky

58 posts in 2043 days

#5 posted 11-15-2013 09:39 AM

In the past I have used Crown marking gauges with the pins. They worked ‘okay’ but once I made a cutting gauge, I never went back to the marking gauge with pins. A sharpened blade as the means to make the line, gives a nice line for registering a chisel or the kerf of a saw.


View Tim Anderson's profile

Tim Anderson

152 posts in 1724 days

#6 posted 11-15-2013 02:34 PM

For all my work, I use a normal marking gauge with pins that I have filed to a sharp point. I tend to use a straightedge (usually a combo square or sliding bevel gauge) and a knife to score across the grain, and only really use the marking gauge in the direction of the grain.

I do have a mortising gauge that I will use in all directions, but it also has sharpened pins, and tends to work fine. When going across the grain, the sharpened pin edge can cut the wood fibers, and when going along the grain, if you keep a steady hold the sharp edge won’t wander off track.

Any of the above will give me a nice crisp line to work off of, so whatever you have is probably fine. Just make sure to practice a bit and you shouldn’t have any problems.

-- -Tim, Salt Lake City, UT, USA

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