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Marking and Cutting Gauges


Click to enlarge


Figure 1. A freshly made set of marking and cutting gauges, ready for use.

 Have you ever had a favorite old tool that you have used absolutely forever, and weren't willing to give it up even though it's worn far past the point of usefulness?  I have two such tools - both, unfortunately, happen to be marking gauges.  One is an old Stanley #97 wheel marking gauge, the other a Stanley #77 mortise gauge.

This errant devotion to these old tools finally led to frustration when I realized that on the #77, the pins had worn down to the point that there wasn't enough pin left to mark anything with.  Over the years I had filed them down to tiny little nubs - there simply wasn't enough of them left to do the job anymore.

Something else - I didn't have a decent cutting gauge, something that I am going to need for my radio cabinet project.  Very similar to a marking gauge in construction, they use a knife blade rather than a pin to cut rather than mark the surface, and are often used when cutting veneer parallel to an edge when installing inlay.

I could buy all the gauges I wanted, but getting all I wanted would cost a bit of cash, and the way things are I figured it might be cheaper (and funner!) to make them myself.  Besides, I had all this brass stock laying around and also had this one, perfectly quartersawn piece of coco-bolo I have been hording since I found it years ago that was just begging to be used for some small tools just like these.

Recommendations on Sawmakers, Restorers, and Sharpeners

Every once in a while I'm asked if I could restore or make a saw for a fellow woodworker. Unfortunately, my current employment situation allows me little time for personal endeavors (like finishing my shop!), much less that for others - so I've had to severely cut back work I do for others.

Making an Awl and a Marking Knife

Two of the most basic tools in a joiner’s toolbox are the lowly awl and marking knife - yet they are often two of the poorest tools, too. I know - I've been suffering with a pair of cheap hardware store awls for years - they are truly useless for marking, though. Thick and heavy, and don't hold a point worth squat. My main marking knife has been a utility knife, too - a poor substitute. Yet these are some of the most important tools to have for fine joinery. I decided it was time for an upgrade...

Experimenting with Etching Artwork onto Steel

One of the marks of a quality saw, at least back in the day, was the presence of an etched logo on the blade.  These etches were more than the laser-printed logos of today that practically wipe off the first time you use the saw - the etch was an acid process that actually ate into the metal, leaving the logo behind, etched right into the metal.

I have long searched for a economical way to etch a logo into the sides of my saw blades, and here's what I've found - here's my take on one of those logos: 

Poor Boy Split Nuts


The screws and nuts that hold a saw handle onto its blade are getting to be either hard to find, or are exceedingly expensive.  The standard issue nuts from the hardware store are simple plated steel, and are not consistent in length in my experience.  The brass split nuts are available, but are limited in supply and quite expensive at about $5 each plus shipping at the time of this writing.  I  thought to myself that I could make them almost as well using a few simple tools found in most woodworking shops - and then I would be able to claim that the saws I make are made en


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