New mortise gauge - 2 questions about quality

  • Advertise with us

« back to Hand Tools forum

Forum topic by ColonelTravis posted 03-17-2014 10:07 PM 1113 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View ColonelTravis's profile


1798 posts in 1917 days

03-17-2014 10:07 PM

Topic tags/keywords: mortise gauge crown 153

I’m lazy and had some amazon gift certificates so I ordered a mortise gauge instead of making one and got it for practically nothing – a Crown 153, which arrived today.

Question #1
Never owned one of these before, and I don’t know if this is a characteristic of mine only or if they’re all like this, but the amount of play in fence and beam is can be off by 1/16th of an inch. For example, when locked down it’s possible to not be flush here:

But it is here:

Obviously I can twist the beam left and right, it doesn’t have to lock down like in the photos, plus I’m not planning on chopping long mortises, so any error in squareness won’t be extrapolated THAT much. But is this common in this kind of gauge? I’ve tried it out on some boards and when I’m careful I don’t see problems, but if the fence isn’t square and I’m not careful there can be some line deviation. Maybe it’s just me not being used to how these work.

Question #2
Gauge has pins, I’d like to file these just a bit to make them better cutters – any advice?

4 replies so far

View Nicky's profile


695 posts in 4114 days

#1 posted 03-18-2014 01:50 AM

I have two from crown.

From your pic, the fit looks awful. Both of mine have very clean, tight sides. I just checked for square from the cutter side and both gauges are slightly off, i.e. I can see a little light. I use these to help layout dovetails and mortises. They are a bit fussy to set, but work very well.

One of the gauges I have uses a knife the other a simple pin. The knife gauge is used mainly for dovetail layout. I will make multiple passes and I do get good repeatable results. The pin gauge is used for general layout, typically a single pass. You do need to practice. The position of gauge fence and angle of attack, the way you hold the tool and the pressure you apply all influence the results; you’ll get the hang of it.

I have filed the pin on mine. I did this so that it was easier to keep the tip sharp with just a pass or two with a fine file.

-- Nicky

View Woodknack's profile


11771 posts in 2403 days

#2 posted 03-18-2014 02:35 AM

I have the same Crown mortise gauge, have had it for a long time, very mediocre quality. You can easily make a superior gauge.

-- Rick M,

View ColonelTravis's profile


1798 posts in 1917 days

#3 posted 03-18-2014 02:59 AM

Wonderful. Another thing I noticed is the brass circle sticks out a hair, maybe two hairs. It doesn’t seem to interfere with marking but it is not flush with the the fence. This is the “Deluxe” model. Good Lord, are the lesser ones made of balsa?

Guess it’s time to stop being lazy.

Thanks, guys.

View ksSlim's profile


1276 posts in 2912 days

#4 posted 03-18-2014 03:00 AM

I used a friend’s Crown as a base for a design.
Built mine my way.

Made the bar rounded over on top. Tension screw on bottom.
Filed the sides of the pins to make “mini knives”.
worked well for the last few years.

-- Sawdust and shavings are therapeutic

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

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