Mortise Gauge


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    Matt McGrane

    I have had a wheel-type mortise gauge that I’ve been using, but I wanted a second gauge.

    sent me a plan from Wood Magazine (October, 2004) and I made this mortise gauge from maple and mahogany. I changed some dimensions in the plan a little, and added the (steel) thumb screw that secures the second pin to the beam. The original design only had the knurled thumb screw on top of the fence (is that called the “stock”?) that secured both the fence to the beam and the second pin to the beam. But I wanted to be able to secure the second pin independently for less hassles dialing in the right mortise settings. Both screws lock down tightly.

    I made a mock-up in pine first to find the pitfalls and that turned out to be a really good idea. I’ve only tried this gauge out on scrap so far. Looking forward to trying it on a real project soon. I’m a bit worried that the pins are not exactly the same height – that was about the toughest thing to try to get right with this design.

    Questions, comments … ?

    Matt, Northern California - Started a blog in 2016:


    Very nice. I like the second screw to lock the mortise beam in place.

    Joe Kaiser

    very good looking. I just made one myself. It has become my goto gauge. none of the others compare to it 🙂

    Seattle, WA


    Great work, it looks to be a well thought through user and very finely finished. Independent locking of the second pin is a must for a mortise gauge in my opinion, I’ve not seen it done like this before though and it’s a significant upgrade. If I must be critical, you might countersink the screw fixing the fixed pin in place a little more, if it wouldn’t weaken that part too much.

    If the pin heights are a fraction off it’s rarely been an issue for me; you should know if you’ve used it on scrap whether it’s functional, if you can scribe two lines with it without unnecessary pressure they’re close enough. Presumably you plan to sharpen them at some point so you can always focus on the high pin if it’s an issue.

    Southampton, UK

    Derek Long

    I’ll take two if you’re taking orders. 🙂

    Derek Long
    Denver, Colorado

    Frank Joseph

    Hi Matt. Good job looks nice and the function is a big improvement.

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

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