Hi all. I am looking at cutting gauges (with knives, not the pin kind) and have a few questions. Am I right that they should have a sort of rounded knife that cuts both directions rather than a single direction knife more or less like an exacto blade? Does anyone have any recommendations for a cutting gauge? There are very few used ones on ebay, and when I look at modern ones on ebay or at tool websites I cannot tell from the pictures what sorts of blade they have. (Hm . . . a lot of the modern ones look identical but with different, or no, branding and at radically differing prices. Maybe they all come from the same factory in China!)
@hkimsey , @delong1974 do you sharpen your wheel gauges in any way? I bought one from LV a number of years ago, but found it did not give a crisp line. Many people like them, so I must have done something wrong, but I never did get it to work to my satisfaction. Have you ever run into this issue?
@sanford my cutting gauge is like an exacto knife, not rounded, and cuts in only one direction. It is a Japanese cutting gauge and has a large fence, so there’s no need to go in both directions in order to keep from wobbling off the fence at the end. I don’t use it much. Most of the time that I’d use a cutting gauge, I really use a knife and a square. To me, that is more accurate. For example, when cutting dovetails, using a square on the reference edge is a direct reference. If I run a cutting gauge along the end of the board, that cutting edge must have been perfectly squared to the reference edge, which is a chance for an error. Anyway, if you want a round cutting gauge, you could regrind whatever you get, no?
@delong1974 I think I tried that. Let me dig it out and give it another try. I think you’re saying you treated the machined bezel as a “don’t touch” surface and you rubbed the flat back side of the wheel to freshen up the edge, yes? Maybe I’m misremembering and it left too fine a line to see? I’ll play some more. I really like the way they adjust.
Thanks! Harvey and Derek, I will try the veritas gauge. But I wonder about the antique cutting gauges. My pin gauge works both directions so I assumed a cutting gauge would as well. And I have seen folk in videos using them in both directions. But a blade like an exacto blade only works in one direction. I have seen plans for making your own cutting gauge making use of exacto-type blades but also of Hock marking blades with go both directions (the MK025). I wonder how old cutting gauges worked. I have never actually seen a real one. (In my area, virtually no old tools are available.)
Getting back to the original question, yes–cutting gauges will typically have a flat blade with a rounded tip that is sharpened with a single bevel. It cuts both forward and backward. In use the bevel should face the waste side of whtever you are marking.
I did hone the bevel on mine as I got a used one from eBay and the cutter was pretty rusty. It was tedious but doable. It might work to leave the cutter on the rod and just lean the bevel on your stone and spin the rod, but I haven’t tried that. Like Ed I also honed the flat side. Make sure your wheel gauge has a hardened steel cutter. I think some of the cheaper ones available on the internet don’t. Otherwise, it won’t stay sharp for long.
Rowland, thanks for the link to the Marples page. But their pictures do not seem to show the actual blade. (It is interesting that they never seem to show the blade when selling new cutting gauges or used ones on ebay!) Is it designed to cut in both directions? If so, is it rounded with a single bevel the way Dave described it? You say it is like a marking knife. Does that mean it comes to a spear point?
Harvey mentioned gauges that cut in one direction as being for cutting veneer. I think I have seen those called slitting or slicing gauges, though I am not sure whether those terms are just for veneer cutters.
Also, replacement wheels from Lee Valley are only $3.95- $4.90 depending on type and fit most other brands as long as you keep the mounting bolt.
I replaced the wheels on my old Stanley 98 ( pin on one end, wheel on the other end of each bar) and it was a perfect fit.
If your gauge has marking on the shaft and you use them, make sure themarkings are still accurate.
And their adjustable mortising wheels will fit any 5/16″ diameter shaft (I.e. Stanley).
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