Welcome! Forums General Woodworking Discussions Tools and Tool Maintenance/Restoration Asking Santa for a marking gauge which one should he bring?


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    My cheap marking gauge has fence that wiggles. So Santa is bringing me one. It need to mark mortices as well as single lines. My skills are below novice so I don’t feel comfortable making one. I look forward to your advice!

    Salko Safic

    You can go as expensive or for $50 I think from tools for workibg wood you can buy a marples one. You have a single side and a double pin for your mortise and tenons.

    The Lost Scrolls of HANDWORK
    (Hand tool only woodworking magazine)

    Joe Kaiser

    Honestly, I would suggest making one. If you can plane stock square and cut a mortise, you will be able to do it. I made my first one in maybe 20 minutes, and it has become my go to gauge. Not only will you enjoy using it, but why spend the money when you can customize one to your hand, choose the beam length (I made mine 8 inches, most I see are only 6) and the shape of the fence. I just used a nail as the pin.

    If you need help, just ask.

    Seattle, WA

    Peter George

    My favourite one is the Veritas dual marking gauge:


    Peter in
    Biggar SK
    "New York is big, but this is Biggar"


    I would recommend you buy an old Marples, Stanley etc or any other maker of years gone by.
    That is what I have and they are wonderful. Just make sure the pins are long enough so they can last your lifetime.
    I just love the patina, proportions of the older tools. PS they also work better than the new.

    Try Jim Bode Tools, or The Best Things they both sell quality older tools at fair prices.
    Remember it may seem expensive, but if you plan to use the tools for twenty years or so, is it really expensive.

    And yes make one yourself, but I would still buy an older one to see the standard that you want to aim for.


    how do you sharpen the nail?

    Joe Kaiser

    I just used sandpaper and worked around it. I have 3 old ones, and they don’t come close to what the one I made can do. I am probably bias to it, of course, but I feel like it just works better

    Seattle, WA


    Thanks everyone for your help. I will probably receive one and also make one.


    Search for a post on repairing marking gauges, they talk about using needles from gramophones – you can buy a bunch for little money on amazon. They already have a conical point and are very hard so they’ll last ages.

    When it comes to making marking gauges there’s a couple recent posts here: https://woodworkingmasterclasses.com/discussions/topic/made-a-marking-gauge/

    and here:


    Thanks for your help. I need the examples and details!

    Derek Long

    I’d add Matt’s mortise gauge post, too.


    Derek Long
    Denver, Colorado


    I just purchased 300 gramophone needles for 17.00 USD. Amazing. .05 cents apiece. I think I can make a few!


    A good pin for gauges is 18G stainless steel brads get them at HD two dollars for about a hundred
    There is a good video on making gauges at
    Logan Cabinet shop. He explains how to make a French gauge

    In South Jersey the good part of New Jersey, USA.


    I second, third, or fourth the suggestion that you make your own. If you don’t I do recommend that you stay away from wheel marking gauges. Paul has said it- unfortunately after I spent lots of money. I have the two most expensive, fancy, with all the attachments wheel gauges on the market. IMHO they both suffer from the same 2 problems. 1) They cost too much 2) The mark they leave is determined by the gauge not the user. It is the same on every piece of wood because of the base of the wheel hub. It is almost impossible to press a little lighter or harder based upon the wood. If the mark is not sufficient for old eye (mine) you can’t go back and make a deeper line.
    I’m sure that some folks love their wheel gauges but for my money I could have made hundreds of them for what I spent on the two I have.


    To buy or to make? When given a choice, take both. Good luck.

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