Marking Gauge Swap

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Project by Don Broussard posted 06-30-2013 09:47 PM 2069 views 3 times favorited 17 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is the marking gauge I made for the LJ Marking Gauge Tool Swap for fellow LJ JayT. This is my first time in an LJ Tool Swap, so my gauge is functional, but not as polished as the other fantastic tools made by other participants. The wood is purple heart, and it comes from my brother’s service in the US Army in Afghanistan. The wood was in the dumpster after having been used under outriggers on heavy machinery. He brought a couple of pieces back with him once his deployment was over.

I laminated a few pieces together, cross grained, for the fence. Since I used the captive wedge design, I included a 6 degree space in the laminations so it would be smooth. The practice gauge I made had an irregular face made via chiseling and filing, and I didn’t want my “real” gauge to have irregularities. I made the beam similarly with purple heart laminations. I sized the beam via hand planing, trying to avoid splintering. After the beam was sized, I marked the mortise in the fence, cut the bulk of the material out with a Forstner bit, then finished the mortise with hand chisels and/or filing.

I made two blades out of one jig saw blade, filing one to a point, and the other as a fingernail shape. The third blade was a full-length jigsaw blade shaped to a point. The blade is also held via a small wedge in the beam, also with a 6 degree angle. No finish applied to the gauge or wedges—only Johnson’s Paste Wax was used.

In the south Louisiana tradition of “lagniappe”, I included a spare purple heart wedge each for the beam wedge and the blade wedge.

I know I mentioned this in previous posts, but if you get a chance to participate in future LJ swaps, please seriously consider doing so. I found this marking gauge swap a great opportunity to challenge myself to try new skills. It was neat personalizing the gauge for JayT, and I am glad he found it useful.

EDIT: Thanks to JayT for providing the finished pictures. I forgot to take photos before I boxed it up and mailed it!

-- People say I hammer like lightning. It's not that I'm fast -- it's that I never hit the same place twice!

17 comments so far

View Don W's profile

Don W

19992 posts in 3623 days

#1 posted 06-30-2013 09:53 PM

Purple heart from a dumpster. It doesn’t get much better than that. It looks great. I agree the swaps are a lot of fun.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View whitebeast88's profile


4128 posts in 3246 days

#2 posted 06-30-2013 09:58 PM

very nice i’m sure jayt will be proud to have it.

-- Marty.Athens,AL

View Mosquito's profile


11052 posts in 3348 days

#3 posted 06-30-2013 10:03 PM

Like the story behind the purple heart. Nice assortment of spare cutters and wedges too :-)

-- Mos - Twin Cities, MN - -

View terryR's profile


7642 posts in 3364 days

#4 posted 06-30-2013 10:05 PM

I like it a lot, DonB! The story on the wood is great.

-- tr ...see one, do one, teach one...

View JayT's profile


6419 posts in 3266 days

#5 posted 06-30-2013 10:54 PM

whitebeast, I am. Don can be modest about “polish”, but the gauge works great—easy to set and nice and square. It has already been used quite a bit on my workbench build. The backstory on the wood just makes it more special. I mean, how many other gauges have been halfway around the world with the US Army?

Don in reply to your post on the tool swap thread, yes the wedge is in deep to lock the fence. I think the humidity difference from Louisiana to Kansas had quite a bit to do with that, as it fit more centered when I first opened it.

-- - In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is.

View bondogaposis's profile


5978 posts in 3407 days

#6 posted 07-01-2013 12:13 AM

Really nice gauge Dan, great story on the purple heart. Think about it, South America, Afghanistan, Louisiana, Kansas. Where hasn’t that wood been?

-- Bondo Gaposis

View HillbillyShooter's profile


5811 posts in 3348 days

#7 posted 07-01-2013 12:20 AM

Nice job—looks good!

-- John C. -- "Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth." George Washington

View waho6o9's profile


9016 posts in 3632 days

#8 posted 07-01-2013 12:31 AM

Nice work Don!

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 3745 days

#9 posted 07-01-2013 12:32 AM

I loved the fact that you used wood with a story/history.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View Don Broussard's profile

Don Broussard

4015 posts in 3307 days

#10 posted 07-01-2013 12:37 AM

@Bondo—I didn’t think about that! JayT’s marking gauge has more passport stamps than I do!

@JayT—I’ll make a couple of extra beam wedges for you. Do you need the blade wedges too? I’ll toss a couple of them in the package for you.

All—Thanks for the compliments. It was fun to participate in the swap. After seeing the projects posted, I feel like a man among giants!

-- People say I hammer like lightning. It's not that I'm fast -- it's that I never hit the same place twice!

View ShaneA's profile


7085 posts in 3654 days

#11 posted 07-01-2013 12:42 AM

Looks good, plus a great story. What more could there be?

View Mauricio's profile


7166 posts in 4207 days

#12 posted 07-01-2013 01:47 AM

Great gauge Don! Great idea on laminating in both directions to make the mortises.

-- Mauricio - Woodstock, GA - "Confusion is the Womb of Learning, with utter conviction being it's Tomb" Prof. T.O. Nitsch

View eddie's profile


8565 posts in 3669 days

#13 posted 07-01-2013 12:47 PM

great looking purple heart gauge and story , got to try the swap sounds like fun

-- Jesus Is Alright with me

View Hammerthumb's profile


3088 posts in 3031 days

#14 posted 07-01-2013 10:51 PM

Difficult wood to work. You did a fantastic job!

-- Paul, Duvall, WA

View Dave's profile


11435 posts in 3895 days

#15 posted 07-05-2013 12:01 PM

Don lots of little parts and pieces there. Looking good and PURPLE.
Nice work my friend, it should serve well for many years to come.

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are."

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