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Marking gauge question

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Frank D.

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Hi Everyone,
I posted this message on Wood Central, but I really wanted your viewpoint on my marking gauge question. Everyone knows that you Brits made the nicest gauges, even though I didn't say that in my original post... 8)
So, I'm about to make some marking gauges and I have my design pretty well down, but I'm still wondering about the stem. I thought of making a stem with a square cross-section (in other words, flat sides), but when I look at my other gauges they all sem to have at least two sides that are rounded off slightly. I was wondering if there is any apecial reason for this, or if a square stem would work just as well. I don't really want to round off the stem because it seems to me almost impossible to make a mortise (to fit the stem) with slightly rounded walls. A square mortise would be much quicker and easier to make. Which makes me wonder even more why gauge makers would bother rounding off everything....
Thanks for any feedback,
Frank
 

MikeW

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Hi Frank,

I'm English, but removed a few generations :lol:

The beams are curved, I believe, to allow the gauge to be rotated so the pin strikes at an angle, allowing smooth marking. A square beam would ride on its corner.

But the Brits will be up before long and can give an offically British view :wink:

Mike
 

Frank D.

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DOH!
That makes a lot of sense to me Mike. Gee, I guess it should have been obvious... :oops:
I'll still take any feedback, including any tips on how to slightly round off the sidewalls of the mortise that will hold the beam. I guess I could sand them but getting all the way to the the corners would be difficult, albeit there's probably some obvious solution I'm missing...
 

MikeW

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On my cheap, easily found 70s era Stanley, when the beam is removed, one can see the marks left behind that appear as if a hollow mortiser was used that had the two curved sides. There are fibers crushed from whatever cut through the head.

If I were to make one, I would make it using two overlapping forstner bits to drill the extents and flatten the two sides. Then make the beams to match.

That would make the beam more rounded on the top/bottom, but would be rather easy to make.

Mike
 

devonwoody

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They must have been constructed using designed tooling. Otherwise its down to hand carving :roll:

My grandad used a pencil and his second finger as a guide. :)
 

David C

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Frank,

I don't know if you have my first book but there are several suggestions for improving marking gauges on Pages 13 to 17.

I think square shafts will be fine, the corners can be radiused/ softened a bit.

The front edge is a fulcrum, for marking progressively deeper with each pass, but the curved surface is not essential.

David Charlesworth
 

Ulrich

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Hi Frank,

I think a rounded bam would feel more comfortable, too. For this reason I rounded the edges at my self-made marking gauge in the japanese style and I like the soft feel when using it.

Ulrich

 

Alf

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Frank,

I have a modern Crown cutting gauge with a square stem, and it's positively painful to use, so I think it's worth the effort. I've dabbled, badly, in making marking gauges, and as Mike suggests, I used a forstner bit to create one curved half of the mortise which worked okay. If you want a real challenge, how about a cam lock gauge? Or this one's a nice test of skill and patience. Makes a lovely gauge though; I have one - not made by me I hasten to add!

Cheers, Alf
 

Chris Knight

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Frank an in-cannel gouge of the right sweep and width would make the necessary curves in a mortice. However, these are getting harder to find in more than a few sizes so a carving chisel or half- round rasp would be the next best thing.
 

Frank D.

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Wow,
Thanks so much for your feedback, this is of tremendous help. Ulrich, very nice looking gauge. Alf, those look neat but I've decided to use Jeff Gorman's idea of a wedged dowel that goes through the head to lock the beam. David, I have your first book and will give it (yet) another look (fine book!); I know you like to buy cheap gauges and modify them but the cheap ones here are just too cheap to work with, and the next step up is rosewood. I need a gauge that will hold a mechanical pencil to mark out chamfers, so I decided to make a few more gauges while I'm at it (I need a panel gauge too).
Thanks again everyone.
 

Howjoe

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devonwoody":1nfzc8ev said:
My grandad used a pencil and his second finger as a guide. :)
Our lecturer at college still does this now, although he instructs us to use a marking gauge...."do as I say and not as I do" and all that. I have to say though, that his example cuts are more accurate than the classes!

Cheers

Howard
 

Alf

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Howjoe":kabdbw4f said:
devonwoody":kabdbw4f said:
My grandad used a pencil and his second finger as a guide. :)
Our lecturer at college still does this now
It's a handy method. Right up until you try it on rough sawn, splintery stock. DAMHIKT, but "ouch". #-o

Cheers, Alf
 

Frank D.

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OK, I'm getting there, one more quick question, since it's on the same topic I'll stick it here:
which would be better (in your opinion) on a panel gauge: a pin or a pencil? I know pins work fine and were used traditionally but I was just thinking that a mechanical pencil could give an even line that was precise enough for a panel, easy to see, and it would make the line a lot easier to trace (less friction so as not to make the long beam go astray). Stupid idea?
Thanks again,
Frank
 

MikeW

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Hi Frank.

I like using a pencil--even though the gauge I bought 5 years ago has a pin. And I've gotten use to it.

I did make a modification to one of mine years ago that allowed a carpenter's pencil be attached to the end. I chose that type of pencil for its strength and it's slightly broader line--and the fact it marks rough cut lumber really well.

I'll see if I can dig out a picture of the beam's end. It was in the lot of tools stolen several years ago and I have never gotten around to making a change to my present one.

The only time I have had an issue with a pin-type is last year when I used it to mark out some bevels on a pair of Shaker-style end tables I made. The Mahogany was soft enough and the pin protruded far enough that I never quite got the marks planed out. User error.

Mike
 

Frank D.

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Thank you both, a pencil it will be.

The only time I have had an issue with a pin-type is last year when I used it to mark out some bevels on a pair of Shaker-style end tables I made. The Mahogany was soft enough and the pin protruded far enough that I never quite got the marks planed out. User error.
The same has happened tp me a few times with chamfers (that's why I'm also making a chamfer gauge that will take a pencil...)
 
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