Panel Marking Gauge

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Project by paratrooper34 posted 12-30-2011 03:11 AM 7366 views 23 times favorited 24 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Hi All! I recently made a panel marking gauge and am posting the results of that work. I am going to start a couple of projects that have some wide boards and I needed a way to make layout lines when I rip these boards down. Of course, a panel marking gauge is perfect for those tasks. I looked around on Ebay and such to try to find one and even took a look at the LN model. But everything was a little more than I wanted to spend, so I decided to just make my own. The gauge I made uses a knife blade marker at the end of the beam held in place by a small brass wedge. The beam is secured at the marking distance by the use of a brass knob with a threaded piece of brass rod which presses against the beam to lock it in place. It is capable of marking widths up to 22 inches.

It is simple construction and I made this with two pieces out of the scrap bin. I had a long off cut from a board I ripped and a block from an end cut from the same hard maple board. I looked at other gauges and kind of winged a shape that I thought looks like the traditional ones I saw. A couple of weeks ago I picked up four sizes of french curve devices and put one of them to work to get the shape of the fence laid out. I used my small bandsaw to cut the shape out of the block. Once I got the shape roughed out, I drilled the hole on the top to accept the locking knob. I then cut out the space for the beam which I did by drilling a hole close to the finished size and then trimming it out with chisels to the exact size. I put a rabbett at the bottom to help the gauge register with the edges of boards, a feature that not all of them have. I used my rabbet block plane for that. The last process in the fence preparation was tapping the hole I made for the locking knob. I used an SAE 3/8” tap to cut the threads and it worked very nicely. Once I had all that stuff done, I filed and sanded it smooth to make it ready for finish.

Sorry about the picture quality, the sun was shining in the window bigtime!

This is cutting the rabbet at the bottom of the face of the fence.

The finished fence after all prep work completed.

The beam was a simple piece made from the off cut as mentioned above. All I had to do was rip it smaller and square it up. I ripped it with the bandsaw again and squared it up with the jointer plane. I finished dialing it in with a smoother taking very light cuts. I was going to make the beam with a knife blade on one side and a hole on the other side for a pencil, the way LN makes theirs. But I decided against it. As I use the gauge, I will decide if the need for a pencil is warranted to install one. So I made the mortice on one end to accept the blade and a brass wedge to hold the blade in place.

The micrometer was used to ensure I had the beam the same size on all four sides.

I drilled a hole to remove most of the waste in the beam’s mortice.

I used a mortice chisel to clean up the mortice.

The finished mortice. Because this is wedged, one side is angled to match the angle of the brass wedge. Figuring that out was as easy as lining the wedge up to the 90 degree side and transferring the angle. Hold the chisel at that angle to square it up.

I used my miter vise to bevel the ends of the beam. I measured an 1/8” down on each face of the beam and shaved it down with a block plane to get them squared up. This is the first time I used the miter vise, I really like how it works. I will definitely use it more.

This shows the wedge after if it was cut off the brass blank. This came from a 5/16” brass blank that I cut off on the bandsaw with a metal cutting blade. I filed it to get its final shape and polished it on my buffer.

The blade was simple also. I took a jigsaw blade and cut it to length using a cutoff wheel on my Dremel tool. I then ground the teeth off with a bench grinder. Once I had the basic blank done, I put a spear point bevel on one end and rounded the other over, again on the bench grinder.

Here is the jigsaw blade after it had the teeth removed.

Here is the spearpoint bevel.

And the rounded over end.

After I got the blade shaped, I took the black finish off by running the blade on the my diamond plate. I honed the back of the tip and the bevels to get it sharp.

I didn’t get any pictures of the making the locking knob. It was pretty easy to make. I have a 3/8” brass blank that I cut a hole hole out of with a 3/4” hole saw. I then tapped it for 3/8” SAE threads. To clean it up, I used a piece of 3/8” threaded rod, used two 3/8” nuts to lock the knob onto the threaded rod, and chucked it in my drill. I used files to do the rough smoothing and then moved on to sandpaper. I went up to 1000 grit. I then threaded a piece of 3/8” brass rod and cut it at the length I wanted. to mate the knob and brass bolt, I threaded the bolt into the knob with about a 1/4” extended over what would become the top of the knob. I used a steel hammer and peened the brass bolt into the top of the knob. I then filed it flat, sanded it and polished it up at the buffer. This is not the best way to attach these two pieces as you can see there is an imperfection on the top of the knob where the threads fall away when filed, sanded and buffed. Well, no big deal, this is a working tool, not a runway model. You can see that in the detailed pics below.

All in all, a nice little project that yielded a tool I will be able to pass on to the grandchildren.

-- Mike

24 comments so far

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

27258 posts in 4445 days

#1 posted 12-30-2011 03:24 AM

Hey that is a real nice marking gage!!!............Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View a1Jim's profile


118309 posts in 4917 days

#2 posted 12-30-2011 03:32 AM

Great job,there’s nothing like making your own tools.


View papasteve's profile


30 posts in 4028 days

#3 posted 12-30-2011 05:50 AM

Nice marking gauge and your step by step was easy to follow. Did you make the miter vise and does it just clamp to the top of your bench? And the drill you used really caught my attention. I think I would like one of those. Can you provide more info on the vise and drill?
Thanks for posting your project and thanks for your service!

-- Even if we don't know how, we can still try.

View Ken90712's profile


18101 posts in 4528 days

#4 posted 12-30-2011 11:47 AM

Nice work, great tool you have made.

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View paratrooper34's profile


916 posts in 4292 days

#5 posted 12-30-2011 03:06 PM

Thanks all!

Papasteve, the drill is a Millers Falls model 216. Not sure how old it is, but it is listed in their 1939 catalog which can be viewed at this link:

It is one of the few tools I have that I did not do some kind of restoration on, but that will be coming soon. I don’t have a power drill press, this is it. I use it when I need a hole that is straight and 90 degrees to whatever I am working on. It doesn’t have a very long throw on it, only 2 1/8”, so I can’t use it on very wide or thick stock. It does work nice though, except the automatic feed sometimes doesn’t want to go. That’s something I need to take a look at. I found this drill on Ebay a couple of years ago and I think I won the auction at 90 dollars and change. The 1939 catalog lists it at $23.75!

The miter vise is an Ulmia original product. It secures to the top of the bench by using the tail vise. I picked this up in Germany for like 30 Euros. They were pretty common on Germany Ebay when I was there. Seems it would be relatively easy to make though. I made a benchtop bench using the same type of screw mechanism, which I got from Rockler I believe. If you are interested in making one, I can get some detailed pics and measurements.

-- Mike

View NBeener's profile


4816 posts in 4514 days

#6 posted 12-30-2011 03:31 PM

Wow. That’s very cool !

Because of the beam length, does it ”want to” deflect on you, during use ??

-- -- Neil

View paratrooper34's profile


916 posts in 4292 days

#7 posted 12-30-2011 03:34 PM

Neil, good observation. Yes, the beam does deflect if you only push the fence. This is a two handed tool in which you guide the blade side as well. But, you know, I do the same with my small gauges. I never use them with only one hand.

Thanks for pointing that out, I should have mentioned “How to use it” in the write up.

-- Mike

View tenontim's profile


2131 posts in 5084 days

#8 posted 12-30-2011 03:40 PM

Now that’s a marking gauge,Crocodile Dundee. Nice job!

View Scott R. Turner's profile

Scott R. Turner

276 posts in 4528 days

#9 posted 12-30-2011 04:55 PM

Thanks for the very nice writeup. I always find it valuable to hear how someone got to such a nice finished product—especially when he takes a route that is new to me!

View Pete's profile


188 posts in 5151 days

#10 posted 12-30-2011 06:29 PM

This is why I love our hobby (or profession for some). Instead of making a quick and dirty tool for one job, you’ve made an heirloom. LOVE IT!

-- Measure with a micrometer, mark with a crayon, cut it with a chainsaw.

View RGtools's profile


3372 posts in 3994 days

#11 posted 12-30-2011 07:29 PM

Wow. Is that a thistle brand jointer? I love seeing those in use.

This was a fine tutorial. I want to make one myself, thanks for a few great ideas.

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

View Brit's profile


8463 posts in 4182 days

#12 posted 12-30-2011 07:32 PM

I must get around to building one of these. Great job!

-- Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

View paratrooper34's profile


916 posts in 4292 days

#13 posted 12-31-2011 02:16 AM

RG, it is a Kellogg, made in Amherst, MA. Below is a little write up I found on them.

James Kellogg
Amherst, Massachusetts

Tool Types

Wood Planes

DATM Information

James was part of Kellogg, Fox & Washburn utnil 1839, Kellogg & Fox from 1839-1840 and J. Kellogg & Son from 1865-1867. William Kellogg, his son, continued to use his mark after his retirement in 1867

Identifying Marks


General Information

Kellog’s first company was purchased from Eli Dickinson and became a wildly successful manufacturer of planes. At one point, a portion of Amherst was called “Kelloggville” and was occupied by two of his factories; even producing 150 to 200 planes a day, they were often unable to fill all the orders they received. They are often deemed the highest quality planes ever manufactured on a large scale and collectors abound on the internet praising their worth. In 1886, the dam supplying power for the factories was washed away and production remained idle for several years.

Exerpt from “The History of the Town of Amherst, Massachusetts” by Edward Wilton Carpenter and Charles Frederick Morehouse on James Kellogg

It says they were considered the best planes made on a large scale. I only used one other wood bodied jointer, so I don’t have even a small frame of reference. I own and have used a few metal bodied jointers. I do know that this Kellogg jointer plane is the one I reach for first. It is huge, heavy, and works great. I love this plane.

-- Mike

View RGtools's profile


3372 posts in 3994 days

#14 posted 12-31-2011 05:03 AM

I would love it if I worked that well at 150 years old. Jointers from that time period really seem to have all the bells and whistles. I can’t believe how fine the mouth on mine stayed based on the way they cut it. It stayed pretty darn flat too. I love the way they glide through most work with all that mass.

Thanks for sharing.

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

View Paxamime's profile


18 posts in 3718 days

#15 posted 12-31-2011 06:51 AM

I have actually been looking for someone that has made one of these and the steps they took to make one. I have been thinking of buying one but now I think you have given me the confidence to try and make one too! Very nice job!

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