Marking Gauges


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This is a long episode so, prepare yourself with some snacks and a drink or two. Paul had a lot of fun filming this himself, alongside making several gauges in tandem. The accuracy levels and the demand for fine handwork go with this series of gauges, but once you are done, the cost is some basic scrap hardwood and a little piano wire. Have fun learning new techniques you may not find anywhere else on the net.



  1. Matthew Newman on 28 August 2020 at 12:31 pm

    I’ve been waiting for this one since Paul mentioned it on his blog!

  2. Stefano Passiglia on 28 August 2020 at 1:01 pm

    I’ve been wanting to do this for a long time – now I have a perfect example to follow!
    Thanks Paul!

  3. Bob Blarney on 28 August 2020 at 1:30 pm

    Hmm, what was the thickness of the fence block? I think he misspoke.

  4. lcyohe on 28 August 2020 at 1:47 pm

    Yes please, the dimensions of the block?

  5. Marc-Andre Petit on 28 August 2020 at 3:00 pm

    Amazing video again! Many thanks Paul and team!

  6. Marc-Andre Petit on 28 August 2020 at 3:04 pm

    26.33 mm means 1 inch (25.4mm = 1 inch). mm are easier to read on a vernier than fraction of an inch.

  7. mcael on 28 August 2020 at 4:31 pm

    Watched it to the end Paul and well worth it.

  8. tenbears on 28 August 2020 at 4:59 pm

    What are the dimensions of the stock

  9. Michael Hamilton on 28 August 2020 at 5:09 pm

    What wood is the wedge? Must be mentioned, but I can’t find it.

    Really helpful project – looking forward to making a set – many thanks!

    • Izzy Berger on 11 September 2020 at 4:25 pm

      Hi Michael,

      Paul says:
      Any dense grained hardwood will work.

      Kind Regards,

  10. Andy Aumann on 28 August 2020 at 5:27 pm

    I’ve been so excited to see this! I’m not big into the marking discs and have looked forward to learning how to make my own gauges. I can make a panel gauge now too!

    Thanks Paul and Co!

  11. Rob Drown on 28 August 2020 at 6:23 pm

    Really nice video. Enjoyed it. What are you using for marking gauge blades?

    • Izzy Berger on 11 September 2020 at 4:26 pm

      Hi Rob,

      Paul says:
      I used 01 steel and cut it with a hacksaw and filed the bevels before hardening.

      Kind Regards,

  12. John Domville on 28 August 2020 at 6:27 pm

    Glad this build is finally here. Are there any pdf’s of the drawings?

  13. Bill Hall on 28 August 2020 at 7:20 pm

    I had been waiting on this one since I first saw it in your blog…..Great instructional video!

    Thank You!

  14. Al on 28 August 2020 at 7:30 pm

    I too have been waiting for this video, and the wait was worth it!

    I did find it a bit interesting (and maybe a touch ironic) that you need a marking gauge to make a marking gauge! I am sure that it could be worked around though.

    I made one myself earlier this year, but instead of the wedge, I used a square beam and cross drilled and tapped 1/2 inch brass rod and knurled head screw to clamp the beam in place (like you often see in panel gauges). It was a lot of fun to make and a very useful tool.

    I may trying my hand at one following this pattern too.

  15. Gary Mercer on 28 August 2020 at 8:14 pm

    I must compliment you on your video… I felt like I was standing right with you. Like I was your apprentice. You have such a natural way of teaching. I have already made several marking gauges of various varieties… and I will enjoy making this type also. Thank you very much for your showing everyone how to make such an indispensable tool.

  16. Carlos M. Zaccaro on 28 August 2020 at 8:38 pm

    It seems that you´ve got quite a mess when editing the video, mainly from 1:53…
    Anyhow, quite interesting

  17. Dave Engstrom on 28 August 2020 at 9:21 pm

    It looked like Wenge.

  18. Bob Dehnhardt on 28 August 2020 at 10:46 pm

    Thank you, Paul. I now know what I’m doing for this weekend.

  19. ehisey on 28 August 2020 at 11:14 pm

    It is good seeing Paul, be Paul like in the early videos. The new stuff has an overall better production quality and are probably better for learning, but don’t quite have the same feel of just watching a craftsman work.

  20. Chris Cornelison on 28 August 2020 at 11:38 pm

    Any suggestions on sources for a blade for the cutting gauge?

  21. btyreman on 29 August 2020 at 12:44 am

    this is amazing, can’t wait to make a few of them.

  22. Paulo Teo on 29 August 2020 at 1:01 am

    …I’m starting to wonder if there is a deliberate master plan (even beyond the master classes), or if it is just good ole human behaviour that, after you do the same activities, talk about the same topics and focus on achieving the same goals for long enough, you start creating almost a ‘hive mind’ which feels like others are reading/predicting your thoughts – synchronised brainwaves, mayhaps?!

    After all, how else would “you guys” KNOW I had (for weeks) been thinking about, and planning to create my first gauge TODAY? 😮

    Thank you. I haven’t even watched it yet and you have already over delivered 🙂

    Ps: …synchronicity?

  23. Paulo Teo on 29 August 2020 at 1:06 am

    @Chris C. , I’ve been storing broken (2 to 3mm) HSS drill bits shafts for this very purpose for nearly a year. Maybe I wish I were more clumsy or used drill bits more often because I only have two of ‘em 😜 but it’s enough for a mortice gauge.

    Otherwise I’d buy tempered lil bolts, the hex/Allen headed ones are very common in engineering.

  24. Chris Cornelison on 29 August 2020 at 1:13 am

    For those asking about the dimensions of the stock. Watching as he measured, I observed 3 3/4 for the hypotenuse, 2 1/4 for the width, so the dimensions are…

    1″ TH x 2 1/4″ W x 3″ L

  25. Chris Cornelison on 29 August 2020 at 1:14 am

    @Paulo Teo I was referring to the cutting-gauge with the knife, not the marking gauges with the pins.

  26. Michael OBrien on 29 August 2020 at 1:59 am

    Thank you Paul for this excellent and thorough video, and one that I have wanted you to make for a long time. I do not recall you mentioning exactly what metal you used for the pin material in the standard marking gauge bar. Is it simply a cut off and sharpened wire nail or is it something of a bit harder metal. Would appreciate that information.
    Thanks you sir.
    Michael O’Brien
    Alabama, USA

  27. Joe Wilson on 29 August 2020 at 2:23 am

    Simple but intricately amazing.

  28. DICK SARGENT on 29 August 2020 at 2:40 am

    What is the purpose of the two radii on the stock ? It seems that there must be a use for them or they wouldn’t be of such specific sizes and location.

  29. Larry Geib on 29 August 2020 at 4:04 am

    Very nice video.

    If you are making multiple gauges or want spare needles and cutters, vinyl sheet goods dealers will have both available ready made for their installers.

    Two brands to sear

  30. Larry Geib on 29 August 2020 at 4:09 am

    Premature send— sorry.

    The two brands to search for are Tego and Crane tools.

    Tego sell a pack or 5 needles and 5 cutters

    For Crane , just search for #129 scriber needles. They come in packs of 5 or a box of 50 for about $8.
    They are 7/8” x .063” , just right for a snug fit into a 1/16” hole.

  31. William Nenna on 29 August 2020 at 5:29 am

    Thank you so much, Paul! The locking pin is ingenious! I’ve tried to use the space between my ears to design a worthwhile marking gauge I could make myself for some time. I as yet could never work out all the details entailed on my own. I love your design! The work must all be done carefully with precision but it’s all doable! This puts it right up my alley of challenges! An excellent learning project!!

  32. William Nenna on 29 August 2020 at 5:43 am

    Michael O’Brien: Paul was using Piano Wire of 1.5mm-2mm. Model airplane shops, if you can find one used to carry a wide selection of sizes of piano wire or you can find it online.

  33. wrstew on 29 August 2020 at 8:23 am

    Here in the US a source for the stock used in earlier videos Paul made on spokeshave blades, O1 flat stock is carried by McMaster Carr- you can also find it at any knife makers supply. O1 or similar is available in different thickness and widths according to your needs. My guess for a “universal size “ would be 1/8 thickness and width & length according to the stock available. It is something to have around for these types of projects and easy to harden and temper for the home shop.

  34. soulmachine on 29 August 2020 at 11:01 am

    Thanks Paul. 🙂
    You’re the teacher that’s gonna affect eternity.

  35. Cameron on 29 August 2020 at 11:25 am

    Great video but you mention making your own to save money at the beginning of the video but then you use an existing one to build this one which kind of defeats the purpose. Also would be great to have more information around the wood used and recommendations. Thanks.

  36. Paul Wailes on 29 August 2020 at 12:03 pm

    Excellent video Paul. I thoroughly enjoyed that.
    I guess there’s no reason if you don’t have an 11mm drill bit (whatever that was in imperial) that you couldn’t use a 12mm and adjust the other parts accordingly?

  37. James Vibert on 29 August 2020 at 3:44 pm

    Most interesting and informative. While my supply of marking gages does not ned to be increased I now have the information to replace the pin in my great uncle’s gage with a wood thread tightening screw. Thank you for that idea to burn it in with a drill motor.

  38. David B on 29 August 2020 at 5:44 pm

    I’m so thrilled that the project I requested 2 years ago made it to prime-time! Surely it was my suggestion… (just kidding of course). This was a really great video, Paul, and your precision work is just incredible to watch, no matter what you’re making.

  39. Matt McGrane on 29 August 2020 at 7:04 pm

    Not sure if I’ve ever seen Paul use a block plane in the several years I’ve been with WWMC. I’m shocked! LOL

  40. rayc21 on 29 August 2020 at 8:47 pm

    Very interesting video. This will surely give me something to do between jobs that I seem to gather from my family and friends.
    Thank you Paul and team

  41. Ian Hemphill on 29 August 2020 at 10:21 pm

    That was time very well spent, Paul, thank you for that. As usual, the timing is amazing – I’ve been toying with the idea of making a cutting gauge, and this is enough to prompt me to make a full set of gauges to compliment my chisels. I do believe I’ll be having as much fun making them as you clearly were!

  42. Paulo Teo on 29 August 2020 at 11:03 pm

    Copy that Chris. I misread your question.
    …still could be done with the options I mentioned tough (wear safety everything if breaking a 5-6mm HSS drill bit)

    I’ll grind one of my tempered bolts. Might even screw it across the beam so it is removable for resharpening later

    Noho ora mai,

  43. tenbears on 29 August 2020 at 11:41 pm

    What size diameter for the pins. Mild steel or tool steel?

    • Izzy Berger on 11 September 2020 at 4:29 pm


      Paul says:

      I used piano wire no 10, it’s 3mm

      Kind Regards,

  44. Jim Allen on 30 August 2020 at 2:19 am

    A likely source for cutters is broken or old jig saw blades. Instead of using a marking gauge to make a marking gauge you could use a combination square and scribe or pencil for layout.

  45. Douglas Edgar on 30 August 2020 at 5:59 am

    Thank you Paul.
    I have been woodworking for over 30 years and you still teach me a few things.
    I watch whatever you publish.

  46. William Nenna on 30 August 2020 at 11:18 am

    Piano wire is made from tempered spring steel. Paul recommends 1.5mm-2mm. Piano wire can be gotten in sizes in .2mm increments throughout that size range (1.4mm, 1.6mm, 1.8mm, 2mm, etc). You can get it on eBay by the meter I also remember RC hobby shops also carry a wide range of sizes of Piano wire in one-meter lengths.

  47. Benoît Van Noten on 30 August 2020 at 3:16 pm

    Why radii on the beam?
    – bottom radius ensure a firm seating without the lateral wiggle one could have with a square beam;
    – upper radius and wedge form toghether ensure the wedge will not fall out when it is untightened.

  48. DICK SARGENT on 31 August 2020 at 2:05 pm

    Perhaps you could answer this for me since no one else has so far.
    What is the purpose of the two radii on the stock ? It seems that there must be a use for them or they wouldn’t be of such specific sizes and location.

    • Izzy Berger on 11 September 2020 at 4:28 pm


      Paul says:
      The top radius is to make it comfortable to handle and the bottom radius is so that it seats in the gauge more readily. Both remove all hard corners and this makes the gauge very comfortable.

      Kind Regards,

  49. Larry Geib on 31 August 2020 at 6:39 pm

    A square beam gets loose over time as it wears off the sis of the beam and the beam will wiggle in the hole.

    The 1 3/4” radius provides a seat that will continue to remain snug in the locked position as wear occurs. It doesn’t depend on the sides of the hole for alignment.

    The top 3/4” radius is to provide a positive lock with the wedge. Drilling that hole with the wedge in place provides proper alignment of the two pieces automatically. If the beam top were flat, you would need to drill the 7/16” hole at an angle to align the wedge with the beam. It’s fussier to do that way.

    You can use the same radius, but then the beam will rotate in the hole, which is undesirable.

    • Nick Koukourakis on 3 November 2021 at 5:34 pm

      I think although Paul repeatedly says “1 3/4″ radius” while using the template to mark the bottom of the hole gentle curve, it’s actually a 1 3/4″ diameter circle he is using on the template instead, am I right?

  50. Geoffrey Black on 2 September 2020 at 5:08 pm

    Someone asked what woods were used. Mesquite (a wood native to Texas), was used for the body and the beams. It is hard but brittle. Mr. Sellers lived in Texas and has many times waxed lyrical about the beauty of mesquite. The Locking bar was oak. The wedge looked like bocote or African black wood. In case you did not know, Mr. Sellers lived in Texas for an extended period and used mesquite as one of the woods in the two pieces in the permanent collection at the White House.

  51. Geoffrey Black on 2 September 2020 at 5:38 pm

    Someone asked about the radii on the beam. There is an additional reason for the bottom radius. Over time there will be some wear in both the beam and, especially, the hole in the body. This will make the fit less than perfect, as the beam radius is pushed downward by the wedge it presses against the whole curve of the adjoining surfaces of the beam and the radius of the hole. This creates a force that not only prevents up and down “wiggle” but side to side as well. With a square beam the you would only get friction on the bottom of the beam and the worn sides would still have space to “wiggle” side to side.

  52. Roberto Fischer on 3 September 2020 at 1:02 pm

    I made a marking gauge with a rectangular section beam. It does not wiggle at all. I don’t know what it will be like in 10 years but it hasn’t been a problem so far.

    (Looks like replying in a thread is broken?)

  53. Colin Scowen on 3 September 2020 at 1:28 pm

    I have also made a couple with square profile spruce (out of a single piece of 20 by 20 from the local Obi). Cut a few pieces off the end to assemble the fence with, taped around the bar, glued it all together and used a wingnut in a bushing for locking. Cutting it all from the same piece gave me a nice tight fit, a quick build and I set all the grain in the same orientation so that movement was not an issue, but I know the life will be short, as I can already feel a bit of slop here and there.
    I inset a threaded bush to the end and found a cutter for a laminate trim plane with a hole in the middle that I could screw in to the bushing. I also cut another piece to hold a pencil.

  54. DICK SARGENT on 3 September 2020 at 1:30 pm

    I think I haven’t been clear in what I’m asking.
    The two radius on the stock, 4 3/4″ and 7 plus inches. Paul says the smaller radius is on the top larger on the bottom. If this is important surely there must be a reason / use for them. What is it?
    Looking at other gauges this doesn’t seem to always be a consideration.

  55. Benoît Van Noten on 4 September 2020 at 2:56 pm

    In my view:
    – the large radius on bottom is enough to ensure the anti-wiggle feature (while keeping enough meat in the beam to avoid splitting under marking stress? ) ;
    – the wedge-form is such that the wedge will not fall out when un-tightened. A larger radius would not allow to make a marked difference between the catch side and the wedge side of the wedge. So instead of coming loose when tapping it (as shown in the video), it would tighten on the other side which might be frustrating.

    Now, I am not sure the extra meat on the bottom is absolutely necessary and, two small radii might work.

  56. Selva on 4 September 2020 at 5:00 pm

    Dick is asking about the radius on the stock (the fence, not the beam), I believe. I guess its just aesthetics — you would want only a slight curvature at the bottom, while a more curved top looks pleasing.

  57. Larry Geib on 5 September 2020 at 1:20 am

    Yeah, I think you are right. He does say at 2:01:45 while marking a curve that “it’s just a guide”

    The gauge is reminiscent of the type you see called French marking gauges, and if you google that, you’ll se a whole range of profiles including semicircular for the top radius. A variant also has a square profile locking wedge.

  58. Malcolm Smith on 5 September 2020 at 1:19 pm

    I made one previously using a squared beam, but with shaping lower down for comfort. It works well. The real beauty of this style is in the use – it’s a one hand job to set and lock. 75x50x25 mm is enough for the head but you can have it thicker and shape the lower half as you like.
    I’m now going to make a few mortise gauges for my chisels and a little peg rack to hang them on.

  59. Matthew Moody on 5 September 2020 at 7:47 pm

    I believe you may improve your pin drilling template by ploughing a groove to fit the stem so you don’t have to check it’s position by observing the pencil line.

    Fantastic lesson!

  60. Michael Knight on 6 September 2020 at 6:40 pm

    I’m curious as to the logic for why the hole for the pin wasn’t steered by a pilot hole? If anything, given the same angle of misalignment, the longer bore gives 3-4 times the offset at the point of meeting. Is it because:
    A. the 1/8” Drill is so small the chances are too great of the two holes bypassing each other altogether?
    B. The length of the bore is long enough for the auger to self correct?
    C. The bearing surface of the pin on the stock is the surface rims of the opposite holes so any interior slop due to misalignment is irrelevant?
    D. An option to be named later?

    Thank you for showing use of the bit to align the mortises. My marking gauges suffer from trying to do them freehand.

    • Izzy Berger on 16 September 2020 at 3:32 pm


      Paul says:
      All of the first 3 are good reasons, well done.

      Kind Regards,

  61. Michael Knight on 6 September 2020 at 7:05 pm

    Re: curves on the stock.
    For what it’s worth, in our earliest book on joinery in English*, Joseph Moxon uses the word “oval” (Section 21, Of the Gauge) to refer to the stock of the marking gauge, even though his (possibly borrowed) illustration (Plate 4 fig G) shows a square.
    I have to say, a square oval ranks up there with a tri-square file as odd to 21st Century Ears.

    *Moxon, Joseph. The Art of Joinery, 1703 version. Lost Art Press w commentary by Chris Schwartz 2013

  62. Larry Geib on 6 September 2020 at 10:23 pm

    Paul has waxed poetic over the Stanley 5061, which has a tri lobe ovoid shape and the pin coming out the corner of the beam.

  63. jasonz on 15 September 2020 at 2:49 am

    Great video; can’t wait to make my own. Mr Sellers mentions to make a spare locking bar to have just in case the original wears out. If one has already bored the hole to locate the first one, how do you recommend making the second one?

    Thank you

    • Izzy Berger on 16 September 2020 at 3:32 pm


      Paul says:
      In this case you can bore holes into a second sacrificial piece of wood using the same measurements or you can simply guesstimate it by eye or keep trying it in the stock until it fits.

      Kind Regards,

  64. Larry Geib on 15 September 2020 at 5:52 am

    Just insert the new one and mark around the hole with a pencil.

    Then Shinsel away to the line. Bob Rosaieski did a video on the method in about 2014 that shows the method ( at about 14 minutes)

  65. Larry Geib on 15 September 2020 at 5:54 am

    Haha. The hazards of word replacement.

    CHISEL away to the line. Dave Shinsel plays no part in the method.

  66. Chester Arnold on 17 September 2020 at 3:15 pm

    Hey Paul, If you like working with Mesquite, come on out to my ranch, we have acres of it you can cut.

  67. Alan Smith on 11 October 2020 at 10:18 pm

    Is there a layout page with all the dimensions?

    Thanks. Love this clasd

  68. Gregory Key on 18 October 2020 at 2:55 am

    Love the video but why are the dimensions such a secret?

    ‘Greg Key

  69. Benoît Van Noten on 18 October 2020 at 12:39 pm

    Dimensions are given in the video and are indicative.
    Anyway, if one doesn’t have the same drills and auger bits diameter and chisel width and template, one will have to adapt to what is available.
    Most of the time the best way to work is by fitting one piece to another, not by blindly following measures.
    (Not to say that many of the audience are more accustomed to the International System.)

  70. Bob Dehnhardt on 30 December 2020 at 8:49 pm

    I’m a little unclear on one point: when Paul is talking about the bottom radius for the beam hole, he says it’s a 1 3/4″ radius. But when he mentions using a compass to lay it out, he says to set the compass to 7/8″, which is what you’d do to scribe a 1 3/4″ diameter hole with a 7/8″ radius. Is he using the term “radius” two different ways here? Or does this not matter so much?

    • Izzy Berger on 15 January 2021 at 12:13 pm

      Hi Bob,

      Paul says:

      No, if you set the compass point to the pencil at ⅞” it creates a circle with a diameter of 1 ¾” which is the radius we want.


  71. Ron King on 29 April 2021 at 10:53 pm

    I just made this, albeit wit just one stem so far. It was a lot of fun!
    Here is a tip that worked for me. Instead of hunting down piano wire for the pin I used a 1/8” drill bit. (Almost exactly 1.5 mm). Made of high speed steel it makes a good sharp pin. Insert the bit in a cordless drill upside down and sharpen the blunt end of the bit on sandpaper like Paul does. This becomes the point for the pin. Then reverse the bit and chuck it up in the normal orientation. Drill it through the stem leaving all but about 1/4 inch or so still in the chuck. Then, without withdrawing the drill bit from the stem, loosen the chuck and remove the bit. Cut off the length of the drill bit sticking out (the twisted part) leaving only the newly sharpened point.

  72. Matthew Newman on 30 April 2021 at 8:22 pm

    That’s a good idea Ron, I used some piano wire but it doesn’t seem to like holding a point. I have some 3/32 drill bits I’ll probably never use that I could do the same with.

  73. Matt Sims on 1 May 2021 at 10:55 am

    “Paul says:

    No, if you set the compass point to the pencil at ⅞” it creates a circle with a diameter of 1 ¾” which is the radius we want.


    I’m writing this not having watched the video in question, so I’m open to correction here if I’ve misunderstood something, but that really doesn’t make sense!
    If you set the point to pencil at 7/8″ it does indeed create a circle with a diameter of 1 3/4″… but the radius is 7/8″

    You describe a radius based on the radius… not on the diameter!


  74. Roberto Fischer on 1 May 2021 at 10:02 pm

    Matt, the radius is just the diameter divided by two, so describing one always describes the other. I think Paul’s choice of words could have been less ambiguous, but he’s not wrong.

  75. Matt Sims on 2 May 2021 at 12:05 am

    ” I think Paul’s choice of words could have been less ambiguous”

  76. deanbecker on 2 May 2021 at 2:14 pm

    We really need to remember what he says to do to get the desired result. Semantics aside if you follow along you will get the result. And the steps are Crystal clear. Thats all that really matters isnt it

  77. Hugh Coleman on 6 August 2021 at 4:05 pm

    I have just finished making one of these. My previous experience of woodworking doesn’t extend very far beyond screwing together 2x4s and plywood to make workshop furniture but I was really pleased with how it turned out. I made a 1/4″ chisel out of a metal lathe tool blank to cut the curved part of the hole. It worked pretty well but I did manage to cut myself while sharpening it. I used the timber saved from an olearia tree that used to grow in our garden to make the fence. It’s really dense and produced a lovely smooth end grain.

  78. Scott Clausen on 6 September 2021 at 11:58 am

    Loved this and plan on making some of these, thank you Paul!

  79. Steff Taylor on 19 June 2022 at 8:54 am

    I’ve just watched this and want to make my own marking gauge. I couldn’t see in the video or comments where to get the plastic jig Paul used for marking the radius. Anyone got any ideas where I can get one of these in the uk?

    Great video as always.

    • Colin Scowen on 20 June 2022 at 8:26 am

      WHSmiths have them, fifteen quid a go. There’s a smaller one for three quid, but it is maximum 36mm. Personally, I would look at a pair of ‘wing dividers with pencil holder’ they would be more useful. You should be able to find them also in the UK ( for example).

  80. Lynn Lard on 1 July 2022 at 3:06 am

    Early in the video, after meticulously laying out the positioning, the cutout in the locking pin was created when the main hole through the stock was drilled with the brace and 3/4″ bit. Near the end he made a spare locking pin for that “just in case” future moment. It had the cutout in it, but I never saw how that was created, i.e. how was the correct positioning accomplished? Did he just insert it in the original, already-drilled stock and run the drill through the same 3/4″ hole? Or did I miss something?

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