Shop made marking gauge

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Project by SwedishIron posted 12-18-2008 06:20 PM 7524 views 27 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I’ve been a part of lumberjocks for a while and I’ve enjoyed viewing everyone’s amazing projects, very inspiring. I’m finally having a chance to get back in the garage and build a few things so I thought I would share a project I just completed a few days ago for another woodworking forums hand tool Secret Santa exchange.

The marking gauge is made out of some old pre-ban Brazilian rosewood, Lignum Vitae, brass plate/hardware and an old jigsaw blade. The project has around 6-8 hours of my time invested, most of it was taken up by shaping the brass parts, filing and sanding. The front face is 4” wide x 2.75” tall, the beam is 8 1/4” long and weights around 3/4 lbs. I wanted to incorporate a wider face to give a larger reference edge that should in turn increase the stability and accuracy of the mark cut.

The top knurled knob is constructed of three parts: the knurled nut, 1/4” 20 brass screw and a rosewood top. I used a countersink bit to drill out the inside of the knurled nut, the brass screw was than ground down along the edges to match the 81 1/2 degrees of the countersink angle. Once those had a great fit I super glued the screw in the nut and filed down the top of the screw flush with the nut. The thin piece of rosewood was super glued to the top and shaped while attached.

I’m not sure if many of you have worked lignum vitae before, well it is tough stuff but I was surprised as to how splintery and brittle it is and when the stuff blows out it doesn’t mess around. If the long fibers were not fully supported while sanding or filing the wood would tear out and pull huge chunks out. 1/3 of my time spent on the gauge was damage control trying to repair the lignum vitae.

The body and parts were hand sanded to 400 grit, rubbed down with 0000 steel wool, and the brass plate was polished using some pink strop compound and buffed with a cotton rag. The body was rubbed down with two coats of boilded linseed oil, the rosewood beam and wedge were rubbed with BLO and shellacked.

Shop made tool: marking gauge

Close up of the brass plate

Close up of the knurled knob

Close up of the wedge and blade

-- Scott, Colorado

8 comments so far

View Peter Oxley's profile

Peter Oxley

1427 posts in 4960 days

#1 posted 12-18-2008 06:38 PM

Wow, someone is going to be very glad that you were their Secret Santa! That is a beautiful tool.

-- -- --

View Doug S.'s profile

Doug S.

295 posts in 4793 days

#2 posted 12-18-2008 08:10 PM

Dang that’s nice. I like my wheel type just fine, but your’s looks way nicer.

-- Use the fence Luke

View jim1953's profile


2744 posts in 4927 days

#3 posted 12-18-2008 09:01 PM

Wow nice marker

-- Jim, Kentucky

View Dusty56's profile


11863 posts in 4773 days

#4 posted 12-18-2008 09:19 PM

Just beautiful !! How about a little detail on the actual marker end and the piece that holds the blade in place . Thanks for posting this project…Happy Holidays : )

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View jm82435's profile


1286 posts in 4828 days

#5 posted 12-18-2008 09:42 PM

As my daughter would say: That is hacken SWEEEET! Where can I sign up to be Secret Santa-ed? Thanks for the post, I built one for myself years ago, I won’t be posting it here though – especially not now.

-- A thing of beauty is a joy forever...

View SwedishIron's profile


142 posts in 4726 days

#6 posted 12-18-2008 10:04 PM

Thanks for the comments… it was a fun tool to make.
Dusty56: As for the marker blade, I used an old bosch jigsaw blade that was shaped down to a two sided edge to allow the gauge to cut back and forth in either direction. The steel used for those blades are pretty thin yet strong, and also it is a great way to minimize waste once you’ve spent a blade.

I cut the mortise for the blade/wedge using my mortising machine. I used the 1/4” mortising bit. The first cut was with the beam angled at around 4 degrees angled away from the reference face once the tool is put together. For the second cut, the beam is now sitting perpendicular to the mortising cutting and you want to move it over 1/16” towards the side where the blade will be wedged, you want that blade face to be 90 degrees to the beam. The wedge itself is just a short piece of rosewood that angles to wedge in the blade. Its function is similar to the wedge used in wooden molding planes. Rosewood is tough stuff so it should handle being wedged in without the risk of it splitting.

-- Scott, Colorado

View Bill729's profile


241 posts in 4167 days

#7 posted 04-10-2010 05:59 AM

Lovely, inspiring work. Thank you!


View Dusty56's profile


11863 posts in 4773 days

#8 posted 08-10-2013 09:28 PM

Thanks for the info : ) Sorry getting back here so late.

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

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