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Handy tools #12: Fixed 3/8" marking gauge

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Blog entry by Dave Polaschek posted 11-14-2020 05:15 PM 378 reads 0 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 11: Scrub plane made from a maroon #3 Stanley Part 12 of Handy tools series Part 13: Quick mortar & pestle »

Simple, but for every bookcase I build, I need to cut a dozen 3/8” wide & deep rabbets. Which means marking two dozen lines 3/8” from the edge of a board.

I was initially using my fixed fence kerfing plane, but then I broke that by knocking it off my bench, which gave me an opportunity to rethink things.

Since I’ve been practicing turning things with my lathe, I’ve got a bunch of round things. I took one of them, put a fence on it (another scrap) and then put a brass brad through it 3/8” from the fence.

Now I’ve got a marking gauge that won’t get accidentally set to some other distance, and it fits in my pocket, rather than sitting on the bench where I might damage it. And since I resaw a lot of 3/4” boards into two pieces, I’ll probably continue needing a 3/8” marking gauge enough to keep it around.

-- Dave - Santa Fe



11 comments so far

View WhattheChuck's profile

WhattheChuck

447 posts in 4529 days


#1 posted 11-14-2020 05:31 PM

Nice, Dave!

-- Chuck, Pullman, WA

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

6637 posts in 1550 days


#2 posted 11-14-2020 06:19 PM

Thanks, Chuck. Sometimes it’s the simplest things that make life easier…

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View Oldtool's profile

Oldtool

3149 posts in 3159 days


#3 posted 11-14-2020 06:28 PM

Nice build, now for the big question: how will you sharpen the tip of the pin?, or won’t you?

Reason I ask, I use similar marking gauges that I secured from various places, and I’m never completely satisfied with the results, my scribed lines always seem to either follow the grain on the sides of boards, or jump all over the place on end grain.

I’ve done a little research on this, seems to be as many opinions as there are google finds. I took one of my old marking gauges & adapted it to hold a sharp knife, like an X-acto blade. but trial & error indicates it should only be used across the grain where it works better than a round pin that splinters a board when going across the grain.

So I ask, what is your preferred marking gauge point?

-- "I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The point is to bring them the real facts." - Abraham Lincoln

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

6637 posts in 1550 days


#4 posted 11-14-2020 07:10 PM

Thanks, Tom.

For now, the tip of the nail is plenty sharp. It’s a 1d brad (or equivalent) so 3/4 inch long. No modifications from the factory point on the nail yet.

There’s enough sticking out of the wood that I’ll be able to clamp it with a needle-nose vise grips and file the end sharp if I need to. I figure I might have to sharpen it a time or two before I screw up and bend the nail or lose it behind my workbench. But I don’t expect it to get dull very fast since I’m using it on pine. Pretty soft stuff.

The pin wants to follow the grain sometimes when I’m marking the rabbets long edge, but I generally solve that by turning around and marking from the other direction, and that gets good enough. Since I darken that line with a pencil and then cut with a circular saw, a little wander isn’t the end of the world.

As for what I prefer, the round discs that are on my fancy marking gauges seem to be the best for all-around marking. Next is a pin. And when marking end-grain for dovetails, I will either use a spear-point marking knife or a pencil. For my pine bookcases, I’m marking all the dovetails with a pencil, and getting reasonably good results.

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View crowie's profile

crowie

4226 posts in 2919 days


#5 posted 11-14-2020 09:29 PM

Simple, functional and does the job well, can’t ask for more than that!

-- Lifes good, Enjoy each new day...... Cheers from "On Top DownUnder" Crowie

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

6637 posts in 1550 days


#6 posted 11-15-2020 02:04 AM

Thanks, Peter!

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View mafe's profile

mafe

12844 posts in 4057 days


#7 posted 11-28-2020 11:51 PM

Less is plenty!
Best thoughts,
Mads

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect.

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

6637 posts in 1550 days


#8 posted 11-29-2020 03:49 AM

Thanks, Mads! It’s looking like I may need to replace the brad every hundred lines or so. It’s starting to bend a little. Perhaps I should’ve used steel rather than brass.

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View mafe's profile

mafe

12844 posts in 4057 days


#9 posted 11-29-2020 12:54 PM

Yes a hardened steel nail is preferable.
You can buy a picture hook for concrete, these white plastic once, they usually have three extremely hard nails.

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect.

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

6637 posts in 1550 days


#10 posted 11-29-2020 01:01 PM

Agreed, but perhaps I’ll make another with a thicker turning and a small piece of old file ground to a sharp point instead. Tom got me thinking about what point I prefer, and while the nail is working well, I may want to try a knife-point marking gauge at some point. Perhaps this one will keep working until that time.

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View mafe's profile

mafe

12844 posts in 4057 days


#11 posted 11-29-2020 01:42 PM

The two types are working different and makes different results.
The knife pint, cuts and leave a sharp line, good for dovetails and so on.
The nails, tear and makes a groove, so these are fine for resawing, or where you want a visual line.
I use both types, but a wheel version is my favourite for the sharp edges.

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect.

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