Marking Gauge from Scrap Pine (A trial run)

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Project by palaswood posted 09-26-2013 07:11 PM 2366 views 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I had just installed my vise into my bench, and I was anxious to use it. Plus I need a marking guage so I jumped right into this little project.

As I always do, I rushed it and am not satisfied with the result, but this is a trial run. If I used good wood, I’ll never finish it because I’m too new to know how to do it right and I’m afraid to ruin the nice hardwood, so I have been just going headfirst using scrap pine lately, and its been working for me. At least I am making something instead of just stockpiling materials.

Cut in half a piece of old, scrap pine (from some reclaimed source or another), then stuck it in my new vise and planed it flat.

Sanded it smooth & rounded the corners a tad.

Then it went back into the vise for some chiseling. This was a learning experience to say the least. I had to deal with gnarly tearout, so give me your suggestions on avoiding that on the backside when chiseling, please.

After checking periodically with the arm, I got a snug fit for the mortise.

I drilled a small hole then tapped that hole for the screw. I couldnt find anything in the thumb screw area at the time, so I just used a regular old screw.

The arm is made from another piece of scrap pine, i snapped it on a knot, then sanded it down

The cutter is a piece of scrap metal that i really didnt grind enough or sharpen well, but since this is a trial run, and I wont really be using this guage (considering how it turned out), I just put it in there so I could call it done and hit the sack (well past 2 am at this point, having worked all night on installing that vise). I think the cutter is actually aluminum lol, so this thing is more a prototype than an actual tool.

But I learned my lessons and now I feel comfortable making a decent, usable gauge out of hardwood that I can actually put to good use.

I learned what not to do more than anything, and to take my time and plan every detail out before I make the first cut.

Suggestions on technique are appreciated. I could use advice on avoiding tear out on the back of the workpiece while chiseling a mortise.

-- Joseph, Irvine CA, @palas_woodcraft on Instagram

8 comments so far

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


17268 posts in 3668 days

#1 posted 09-26-2013 07:33 PM

Clamp a second piece to the backside then chisel and you’ll avoid blow-out. Or, chisel some from one side, then flip and finish from the other.

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. - OldTools Archive -

View palaswood's profile


1061 posts in 2801 days

#2 posted 09-26-2013 11:47 PM

I thought so, both occurred to me after the fact. Thanks smitty.

-- Joseph, Irvine CA, @palas_woodcraft on Instagram

View WayneC's profile


14359 posts in 5147 days

#3 posted 09-27-2013 12:40 AM

Instead of the screw to hold the head, you could consider a wedge.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View Woodknack's profile


13552 posts in 3429 days

#4 posted 09-27-2013 05:03 AM

Another tip, if you don’t want to saw the mortise then rip the fence piece in half, saw/chop each half the mortise and glue back together.

-- Rick M,

View ratchet's profile


1391 posts in 4836 days

#5 posted 09-27-2013 02:39 PM

Ditto…Rick M. offers a good tip.An exacto blade makes a good marker and easily replaced once dull/chipped.

View palaswood's profile


1061 posts in 2801 days

#6 posted 09-27-2013 04:17 PM

Damn, and I HAVE Exacto blades… Thanks for the ideas guys. Rick, if I take shortcuts like that I’m never going to learn to chop a mortise the right way, but I appreciate the idea: Its nice to have different techniques to go to.

I’m in the learning stages so I’m trying to put myself through school so to speak by learning the old techniques with hand tools.

-- Joseph, Irvine CA, @palas_woodcraft on Instagram

View JayT's profile


6419 posts in 3260 days

#7 posted 09-27-2013 04:28 PM

Keep working, keep learning, that’s what it’s all about.

Have you looked at all the marking gauges that were a part of the Gauge Swap a few months ago? There’s lots of good design ideas and inspiration there.

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

View palaswood's profile


1061 posts in 2801 days

#8 posted 09-27-2013 05:00 PM

Bro (JayT), I looked at EVERY SINGLE ONE on the gauge swap. Thats what inspired me to actually make one. Some gorgeous workmanship there.

My next one will feature black mulberry I milled myself from a large down branch, at least im planning on that. I also have some Eucalyptus logs, so maybe I’ll combine the two and make it truly self made. I just got a tap/die kit, so I’m mulling over the idea of making my own thumbscrew as well.

Thanks for the encouragement btw

-- Joseph, Irvine CA, @palas_woodcraft on Instagram

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