Made a Marking Gauge


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    Matt McGrane

    I got the idea for this type of marking gauge from Richard Maguire of “The English Woodworker”. The beam is locked in place with a wedge, so the stock has two mortises – one for the beam and an angled one for the wedge. The main mortise was first drilled with brace and 13/16″ bit, then chiseled to the gauged lines. The angled mortise was a little tricky, but careful marking and chiseling made it OK.

    This thing is a beast – I probably made it a little larger than they are typically made. I just didn’t know any better. The beam is 7/8″ square and about 9″ long. The stock is 1 1/8″ thick, 4″ tall and about 3″ wide. The wedge is 5/16″ thick, approx 1/2″ wide and 3 1/2″ long.

    I used an ordinary nail (don’t know what kind) for the pin. I cut off the head, chucked it into a drill and sharpened it on sandpaper and diamond stones. I don’t know if this helped or hurt (don’t know the properties of steel used for mails), but I heat treated the nail to harden it.

    Finished with three coats of shellac, each rubbed with steel wool after drying. The stock was given a coat of wax so that it will slide well on a board. The wedge locks the beam quite solidly in the stock.

    Not sure what wood it is – got is from dismantling a chair that was destined for the landfill. Comments and critiques are encouraged.

    Matt, Northern California - Started a blog in 2016:

    Salko Safic

    I like it MAtt great job, making your own tools is definitely the best way to go. Who knows maybe you might end up becoming a tool maker.
    The Lost Scrolls of HANDWORK
    (Hand tool only woodworking magazine)


    Looking good, Matt.

    Near Chicago, USA


    Looks good!

    Wood is probably from a rubber tree.. I have a dinning room table and chairs made from that type of wood. At one time when a rubber trees were done producing sap, they would just burn them. Until someone figured out you edge glue and finger joint the lumber into wider and longer boards.

    David Perrott

    I saw that. I have some basswood that I have been meaning to make one. I was going to make the beam square, like yours, I think his was curved on on side. I have to dumb it done!

    Derek Long


    Derek Long
    Denver, Colorado

    Peter George

    Very nice Matt.

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

    Frank Joseph

    Looks good Matt, told you he is good.

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


    I just made this one. Guessing at it. Made a lot of mistakes. It’ll work and I can make a better one next time. Walnut and White Oak, from firewood.

    WP scribe1

    Marilyn Moreno

    Gauge looks great. I looked up the English woodworker site and saved the blog for this. It’s now on my “to make” list.

    Marilyn - Lehigh Valley, Eastern Pennsylvania - USA


    Nice work. From the grain flecks on the stem I am pretty confident it is made of beech. Ikea uses a lot of that wood, and our friend Paul highlighted in the plane-making video that beech is the classic wood for toolmaking. I would say you made out like a bandit with your upcycled chair.

    Matt McGrane

    Thanks everybody. I think I’ll get a lot of use out of this gauge. Would still like to make a mortising gauge, but have to figure out how to make one sliding and lockable pin.

    – Wade, your gauge looks nice, too. I’m jealous of people who have that kind of lumber for firewood. Great upcycle.

    – You may be right about beech. Someone else suggested that, too. The old wooden planes that I have (made of beech) are so much darker, but several decades of use and aging will probably do that.

    Matt, Northern California - Started a blog in 2016:


    Fwiw here is a picture of rubber tree lumber.. Looks surprisingly close to beech.


    It looks pretty good to me. I like the marking gauge a little on the heavy side. I made a panel gauge some time back out of a piece of Mulberry from the firewood pile. It was a little green and it developed some cracks after it sat for a while. I reach for it before reaching for the factory made one that I have. It’s just more fun to use knowing I made it

    Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

    Albert Einstein


    Looks awesome! I tried my hand at one a while back The pin was the marking needle that comes in the end of a lot of combination squares. It started to come loose on me after awhile. I wasn’t sure how to rememdy it so I ended up scrapping it. Have you run into that issue? I’d like to make version 2.o

    Thanks for sharing,

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