Marking gauge recommendations

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Forum topic by groland posted 02-14-2009 07:51 PM 5349 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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149 posts in 2832 days

02-14-2009 07:51 PM


I have a one-pin beechwood Stanley marking gauge that has been good for me so far. However, when working with red oak, the wood is so heavily textured and visually complex, that I am finding it very hard even to see my marking gauge’s marks.

On a whim, I bought a circular marking gauge from Grizzley to see if it would work better. I was very disappointed with this tool. The little wheel that does the marking is held in with a cheesy phillips head screw. When you snug it up the marking wheel won’t turn, and when you loosen it enough to allow the wheel to turn that turning quickly loosens the screw so much that the marking wheel wobbles all over the place. I think it’s a piece of Chinese-manufactured junk! Its marks are no easier to see in the red oak than those produced by my old Stanley standby.

So I have two questions—is there a way to get a more visible mark on red oak?

Does anyone make a better wheel-based marking gauge? What do you guys recommend-use?

Many thanks,


7 replies so far

View lew's profile


11264 posts in 3176 days

#1 posted 02-14-2009 08:21 PM

Maybe rub a little chalk dust over the marked line.

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View Karson's profile


35032 posts in 3821 days

#2 posted 02-14-2009 08:28 PM

I made a pair of marking gauges from a Hock blade.

I used them the other day at a hand cut dovetail class. We were using popular and without really pressing them had and cutting a couple of times, the line was hard to see at times.

It got easier if I ran a sharp pencil down the cut line it was a lot easier to see. One of the people had a marking gauge that used an xacto blade to dut the line.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View Will Mego's profile

Will Mego

307 posts in 3133 days

#3 posted 02-14-2009 08:28 PM

perhaps use a cutting gauge instead of a marking gauge? It’s a little knife instead of a wheel or brad doing the marking. Best is making your own.

-- "That which has in itself the greatest use, possesses the greatest beauty." -

View grumpycarp's profile


257 posts in 3166 days

#4 posted 02-15-2009 01:09 AM

The “little wheel” isn’t supposed to turn, it is supposed to cut. When it becomes dull, you loosen the screw and reposition the cutter to expose a fresh, sharp surface. Or just turn the thing in your hand. The benefit of this is that at the same time you are striking a line you are also scoring the wood fibers on the surface which will help mitigate tear out on the surface.

And as Lew stated, a little bit of chalk on the cut line does wonders. I use the edge of the chalk not the end and then wipe it off with my hand. This removes most of the chalk from the surface but leaves a little left in the line that you scored with the gauge.

View wood_wench's profile


89 posts in 2852 days

#5 posted 02-15-2009 04:00 AM

I’ve never had much success/joy in using wheel based marking gauges. My favorite marking gauge is made by Hamilton, I purchased it from dilegnosupply.
Hamilton marking gauge

View Zac's profile


48 posts in 2809 days

#6 posted 02-16-2009 12:01 AM

I have a Veritas micro-adjust (wheel) marking gauge from Lee Valley…. it certainly costs more, but the quality is there. I love it – I also have a marking gauge with a “pin” for a marker… I hate it. I love the wheel gauge and should have just spent the money on the nicer one in the first place. (Hey isn’t that the story with many tool purchases???)

The other thing I love about the wheel style marking gauge – it actually leaves a small line to “register” your chisel – or whatever – with. You could mark with the gauge – and then start to pare up to it… now, you can go real deep – but you can start to pare a little bit without using a chisel to mark a deeper line. (if that all made sense lol)


-- "Start with ten.....end with ten"

View poopiekat's profile


4189 posts in 3155 days

#7 posted 02-16-2009 01:14 AM

Ditto here on the Lee Valley… the “wheel” is a misnomer, it should not rotate. You can’t cut great dovetails without the ability to set a line with the precision of the ‘wheel’ type marking gauge.
I once made a gauge with a piece of aluminum rod with a threaded hole in one end, and used a shoulder bolt and a cutter wheel from a tubing/pipe cutter. Yes, that cutter wheel actually did rotate! Worked pretty good! I’ve thought about making a gauge using a spur from a Stanley 45 or 55 plane.

The Veritas is #1 in my book, however.

-- Einstein: "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." I'm Poopiekat!!

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