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Marking guage technique

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Pete W

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I'm somewhat embarrassed to ask this, but... :oops:

Is there some secret to the correct use of a marking gauge? I seem to have an improbable amount of difficulty getting to grips with this apparently simple piece of equipment. I have - and have used - both the traditional squarish-boxy fenced type and the newer wheel-style and the results have been, basically, cr*p.

If I concentrate on keeping the fence square to the stock I can't seem to get a clean line - either the pin digs in, or it just skips over the surface. And if I concentrate on the line, the fence moves against the stock and my lines aren't straight.

The wheel guage is probably easier but far from perfect. And it goes without saying that my problems are doubled when I try to use a mortice guage.

Where am I going wrong?
 

Matt1245

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Hi Pete,

I use a mortice/marking guage and had the same problems when i first started using it. What i tend to do now is place the pins on the edge of the stock and lean the guage over so that the corner is touching the timber. Then i concentrate on keeping the fence against the edge and take a few light passes over the wood. if the fence is screwed up tight, then it shouldn't move and the pin should stick to the line already marked.

That said tho, i'm pretty new to this wood working so even though it works for me, this might not be the 'correct' method.

Matt.
 

LyNx

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also mark so the grain pulls the marking gauge towards the timber and that it doesn't run into the grain and push the marking gauge away from the face.
 

Philly

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Pete
Fear not-it's a regular problem!
I have watched video's of both David Charlesworth and Jim Kingshott using marking gauges. They both recomend two things.
1: File the pin of your gauge to a fine "V" point, about 2mm long.
2: Take the first "swipe" with the pin to the rear of the gauge, barely touching the wood. The idea is to lightly score the fibres and concentrate on keeping the stock of the gauge tightly against the work.
Take repeated swipes, each one a little deeper into the work-aim for at least three goes, each one deeper than the last. This will ensure that the pin does not follow the grain and an accurate, well defined mark will be made.
Hope this helps,
Philly :D
 

Pete W

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Thanks guys :)

Philly.. good tip about filing the pins - I'm sure I've read that somewhere before (Charlesworth book perhaps?) but had forgotten.

I'll let you know how I get on (although it'll be a few days before I get back in the workshop).
 

Alf

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Jeff Gorman has some pointers here and here. Many light passes makes the biggest difference IME. Surprised you didn't find the wheel type a good deal easier; which one have you tried?

Cheers, Alf
 

Pete W

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Alf":26innjtt said:
Surprised you didn't find the wheel type a good deal easier; which one have you tried?
Wheel type is definitely easier but I'm still making mistakes - generally, I think I've been trying too hard with the fence jammed up against the stock so it's hard to move. It's the original Veritas model.

Good stuff on Jeff's site, as always.
 

CMSchwarz

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One other thing to add to the excellent advice here: File the point of the gauge so that its cutting action will naturally pull the fence of the gauge against the work.

Charles Hayward's "Tools for Woodwork" has an excellent illustration on page 57 about this. But here's the garbled text-only version courtesy of me:

Look at the gauge in plan view and note which way you push it during use – there's an infeed and outfeed side to this tool.

File the cutter's point square to the fence as you normally would. Now rotate the cutter so that it faces the "infeed" side of the gauge and cutter just a tad. How much? Try 5°.

Light strokes, of course, and you should be in business.

Chris
 

bugbear

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File the cutter's point square to the fence as you normally would. Now rotate the cutter so that it faces the "infeed" side of the gauge and cutter just a tad. How much? Try 5°.
Anyone who can file a flat on a 1/16" pin, and then orient that face with any degree of precision has my admiration.

Personally, I use a simple "pointy pin" in my marking guage, but...

I use a cutting gauge wherever possible.

As a refinement, I have 2 cutting gauges. One has a knife with a steep (35°) bevel for marking, the other has a shallow (22°) bevel for actual cutting.

BugBear
 

Alf

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bugbear":2g4luaca said:
Anyone who can file a flat on a 1/16" pin, and then orient that face with any degree of precision has my admiration.
Depends on the style of gauge; piece of cake with one that allows easy adjustment of the pin such as this or this, to link but two. IIRC, the instructions for the L-V even suggest doing that very 5° thing with the cutting blade. Naturally I'd completely forgotten that about 2 seconds after I read it... #-o

Cheers, Alf
 

bugbear

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piece of cake with one that allows easy adjustment of the pin
My doubt didn't concern the ability to move or turn the pin, but to judge an angle on such a tiny "flat".

This might be considered a related concept to rake angles on saw teeth ...

BugBear
 

Alf

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Now you see the actual mechanics of getting the pin orientated seemed a reasonable difficulty. Worrying about getting it exactly to 5° never even occurred to me. I suggest a small pair of pliers with a suitable long pointer lined up with the inner surface of the registering jaw and a protractor, all set out in a workable orientation. I look forward to hearing how you got on.

Me, I'll just guess. :oops:

Cheers, Alf
 

bugbear

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Worrying about getting it exactly to 5° never even occurred to me.
You know me - I worry about precision, even when I don't need to...

Did you see how I ground and sharpened my scrub plane iron?!?!?

BugBear
 

Alf

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bugbear":2d7llqjy said:
Worrying about getting it exactly to 5° never even occurred to me.
You know me - I worry about precision, even when I don't need to...
You do? I hadn't noticed... So you gonna make a jig to do it then, just to prove it can be done? :D

bugbear":2d7llqjy said:
Did you see how I ground and sharpened my scrub plane iron?!?!?
Well yes, but then look at Derek; he's doing it too. I was coming to the conclusion that I was all alone in a minority of imperfectly polished scrub irons and slap-dash imprecision. In short, I was thinking "Is it me?". It usually is in 99%* of examples. :roll:

Cheers, Alf

*There could be a difference of up to 5% either side of that figure of course... :lol:
 

Alf

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bugbear":2j90hx3j said:
I think the sample of woodworkers that publish details of technique is not completely random :)
Oh hell, you mean not even that's slap-dash and imprecise... #-o
 

David C

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I do think marking gauges are difficult for the beginner to master.

My pins are ground to form a flat side through the centre.

The remaining side is ground and honed to make a crescent shaped knife. The shape is exactly the same as used by Colen Clenton.

The principle is to use the bevel side of the "knife" to the waste at all times, so I have some of each, choosing to convert and tune the cheapest possible gauges.i.e £2.50 +vat from Tilgear.

This pin modification works equally well cross and along the grain and makes a huge contribution to accuracy.

The pin shaping work is described on page 15 of my first book, not easy but not impossible either.

I would suggest an offset of no more than a couple of degrees. 6 inch steel rule offered up to the flat, as Alf suggests, gives a pretty good idea of where the flat is pointing.

best wishes,
David Charlesworth
 
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