Assorted Layout Tools

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Project by EarlS posted 11-10-2018 01:51 PM 1435 views 11 times favorited 28 comments Add to Favorites Watch

For the 2018 Layout Tool Swap I chose to make an assortment of items. Since I haven’t used many layout tools outside of a square and pencil I wasn’t sure what was useful and what wasn’t. I also was at a loss for making appropriately proportioned tools. Fortunately, there are plans and parts kits available for all of these items. I took full advantage of them.

This was also my first exposure to working with brass. I found out that there are numerous places online where you can get brass for reasonable prices. I also found out that brass isn’t overly difficult to work with in a wood shop as long as you are careful and think through what you are going to do. I relied quite heavily on the experience of other guys in the swap that had metal working experience. It is always surprising how much knowledge there is on LJ about so many things and how willing everyone is to share their knowledge and experiences.

Before I get into specifics, I’d like to put in a pitch for the 2019 Spring Mystery Swap that will start mid January. Swaps are a great way to try new things and meet some great folks. Watch for details in early December on the Forum Board.

8” Torpedo Level: Body – Brazilian Ebony. Schlabaugh and Sons has plans and brass parts kits.

The most challenging part of the build was ensuring the bubbles were level. Here is the contraption I came up with to ensure it was plumb and level while the clear silicon holding the bubbles cured:

I got carried away and wound up making several of them in a variety of wood species:

Marking Gauge: Body – Bloodwood. Beam – Katalox with Bubinga inserts. Schlabaugh and Sons has plans and brass parts kits.

The brass strips aren’t on the original plans. They were added to provide a more durable work face. I made a couple of these in case something went wrong. The Granadillo version developed a crack across the top part way through the project.

Rectangular Layout Gauge: Body – Paduak. Knob – Cocoblo. Ruler – 6“ Starrett held in place with magnets. Plans came from

While it looks like just a couple of 6” pieces of wood with a ruler sandwiched between them, there is more going on here. The ruler is held in place with rare earth magnets which allows the user to adjust the ruler flush each time it’s used. There is also a key that runs the length of the tool to ensure the pieces stay square with each other. Finally, the knob and slot on top also keep things square and provide a means of tightening everything up so it doesn’t move. This is a really solid layout tool.

Circle and Straight Layout set: Body – Bocote. The plans came from Woodsmith Plans.

The circle layout gauge is quite clever. One side is for inside circles and the other side is for outside circles. The straight layout gauge should be useful on smaller projects. The countersunk holes work well with a 0.7 mm mechanical pencil.

All of the wood was finished with sander sealer and Arm-R-Seal and sanded to 2000 grit then waxed and buffed.

-- Earl "I'm a pessamist - generally that increases the chance that things will turn out better than expected"

28 comments so far

View splintergroup's profile


2547 posts in 1490 days

#1 posted 11-10-2018 02:15 PM

Some beautiful pieces Earl! Excellent job on fitting the metal, they all look like classics.

View MaxAdvoko's profile


96 posts in 156 days

#2 posted 11-10-2018 02:39 PM

Loved it!

-- Let good people watch good videos!

View oldrivers's profile


1552 posts in 1834 days

#3 posted 11-10-2018 02:54 PM

Super Nice Items. Great work congratulations.

-- Soli Deo gloria!

View mikeacg's profile


734 posts in 1325 days

#4 posted 11-10-2018 04:00 PM

For a guy who doesn’t know much about metal, you sure could have fooled me! These are beautiful Earl – and I especially like how you always go overboard by making LOTS of them! I really enjoy showing my dice hammer off to all my friends who stop in and I do have something in the works as a Thank You present.

-- Mike, A Yooper with a drawl,

View majuvla's profile


13811 posts in 3135 days

#5 posted 11-10-2018 05:19 PM

Incredibly profesionaly look tools.

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

View Tom Regnier's profile

Tom Regnier

336 posts in 2815 days

#6 posted 11-10-2018 05:26 PM

I agree…very well done and professional looking tools.
Great job!

View James E McIntyre's profile

James E McIntyre

230 posts in 1560 days

#7 posted 11-10-2018 07:15 PM

These look like something that was found in the antique Studley Tool Chest.

-- James E McIntyre

View duckmilk's profile


3304 posts in 1592 days

#8 posted 11-10-2018 07:40 PM

Superb work Earl! Everything is really functional as well as beautiful. Congrats!

-- "Duck and Bob would be out doin some farming with funny hats on." chrisstef

View mikeacg's profile


734 posts in 1325 days

#9 posted 11-10-2018 09:07 PM


Your tag says 2019 layout tool swap! Are you volunteering for that one too?

-- Mike, A Yooper with a drawl,

View jeffswildwood's profile


3743 posts in 2245 days

#10 posted 11-10-2018 09:28 PM

Earl. Nice set You definitely went over the top. Any one piece would have been great for a swap item.

-- We all make mistakes, the trick is to fix it in a way that says "I meant to do that".

View therealSteveN's profile


2051 posts in 842 days

#11 posted 11-10-2018 09:55 PM

Wow, impressive.

Thanks for posting, and congrats on the 3.

-- Think safe, be safe

View EarlS's profile


2298 posts in 2616 days

#12 posted 11-11-2018 12:07 AM

Mike – thanks for telling me it is still 2018. My proof reader is blind as a bat.

-- Earl "I'm a pessamist - generally that increases the chance that things will turn out better than expected"

View pottz's profile


4080 posts in 1252 days

#13 posted 11-11-2018 12:11 AM

earl are you a professional tool maker because they are surely top notch my friend.i especially love your layout gauges,just beautifully done.and cant say enough so ill just say thank you for sharing this.

-- sawdust the bigger the pile the bigger my smile-larry,so cal.

View Bill Berklich's profile

Bill Berklich

567 posts in 656 days

#14 posted 11-11-2018 12:36 AM

Beautiful tools and great to see some of your inside secrets. Count me in on the Mystery Swap.

-- Bill - Rochester MI

View jutsFL's profile


164 posts in 109 days

#15 posted 11-11-2018 12:43 AM

Stunned is a pretty good description, for a guy who says hes never made one, or worked with the new material to you (brass). WOW.

Simply beautiful, and pristine looking. Amazing job all around.


-- I've quickly learned that being a woodworker isn't about making flawless work, rather it's fixing all the mistakes you made so that it appears flawless to others! Jay - FL

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