Building a marking gauge


I just started practicing hand cut dovetails and have been using a square to mark the baseline. I would like to make a simple marking gauge, but I think I may be missing something. They seem very simple to make, but when I search online I'm finding some fairly expensive prices for such a simple tool. It seems to me that if the pin or blade is secure and can keep a consistant distance from the base, it would work fine. For example, a dowel with a blade attached to one end and some sort of sliding block (something like the collar used to hold weights on a weightlifter's bar) would work just as well as anything else.
Is there anything about marking gauges I am missing?
Thanks, Richard
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not really.
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Richard wrote:

Not sure what you consider fairly expensive, but LV has a solid brass gauge for $16.50, or a simple beech one for $12.50.
http://www.leevalley.com/wood/page.aspx?c=2&pP440&cat=1,42936 http://www.leevalley.com/wood/page.aspx?c=2&p2623&cat=1,42936
Chris
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Frankly, I've found a marking gauge pretty clumsy to use and its pin cuts a ragged line. I like to butt the pieces together at an upright right angle on a bench and take a sharp knife (like an exacto hobby knife) to scribe the line using the horizontal piece as a guide. Steve
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Steve wrote:

There are marking gauges with knives or sharp wheels rather than pins for this exact reason.
Chris
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On Tue, 15 Nov 2005 17:06:56 -0600, Chris Friesen

I have a butt ugly quickie marking gage I made to hold a pencil. I made it mebbe... a couple of years ago... still using it. heh. one of these days...
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wrote:

"Marking" gauges traditionally use pins. The ones with knife blades are called "cutting" gauges. For marking out dovetails they do indeed cut a better line. However they're not recommended for marking mortices, as they tend to self-steer when following along the grain.
A good compromise is a gauge with a pin, but to sharpen it on two sides as a narrow knife blade.
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Not missing a thing. A stick in a hole with a pointy thing. That's about it.

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...for what it's worth for the "thrifty"...drill a small hole (enough for a sharp pencil point) in the groove at the 6" point in the your standard tri-square which you probably already have anyway...not so sure it works for your purpose but it works great for marking boards for re-sawing on the band-saw. Adjustable and ruler is "built-in".

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Like many "simple" tools, there's more than meets the eye.
1. you need a "fence" to register on the edge of the stock it should - be flat/straightt and square to the "arm" with the line cutter/ scratcher/ scriber - be precisely moveable - lock in place without going out of square or moving from where you started to lock it. 2. you need an "arm" to hold the cutter/ scratcher/ scriber which should - stay square to the fence face - hold the cutter/ scratcher/ scriber parallel to the fence face - hold the cutter/ scratcher/ scriber square to the stock 3. you need a cutter/ scratcher/ scriber which should - sever grain rather than scratch/scrape it a simple pin scratches and can follow the grain, wandering off line if you file a flat bevel on a pin, parallel to the fence to create a cutting edge rather than a point AND round the "point" to create a curved cutting edge. it will severe not scratch and is less apt to follow the grain Better yet, use a small triangular knife ala the japanese marking gauges Best of all, a single bevel cutting wheel - as on the Tite-Mark and the LV/Veritas marking gauge
Things get a lot trickier if you want to make a mortise and tenon marking gauge. THAT'S where the Tite-Mark with the optional dual single bevel wheels really shines. Set them on the shaft to the desired width, lock them down then set the fence to position the mortise relative to your reference face.
More stuff to think about - sorry.
charlie b
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Easily formed by following the tip on my web site - Marking Out Notes - Marking Gauge Tips.
Jeff G
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Jeff Gorman, West Yorkshire, UK
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Richard might like to look at my web site: Marking Out Notes - Make Your Own Gauge.
The answer to Steve's posting saying that the point cutting a ragged line described under Marking Gauge Tips.
Jeff G
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Jeff Gorman, West Yorkshire, UK
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Thanks Jeff, your web site has a lot of info that will help me out. I appreciate the help!
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You're right, and it's not hard to make one. I made one somewhat similar to Jeff's using an old ground-down jigsaw blade instead of a pin - see details below. The brass LV one mentioned above looks nice, though - I might have gotten that one if I'd seen it before making mine. I made my own marking (cutting?) gauge from a piece of 3/4" baltic ply cut into a nice comfortably curved shape, with a hole in the middle like a donut. I countersunk a square nut inside the hole so I could put a thumbscrew through the outside into the hole. Then took an oak dowel, flattened along its entire length, and put it through the hole, with the flat side facing the thumbscrew. Took an old jigsaw blade (any piece of good steel would work), ground off the teeth, and sharpened an angled bevel on one end. Drilled a series of very small holes in the dowel, parallel to the birch ply, and going through the flattened edge, to accept the blade, and pushed the blade through, with the bevel facing the ply piece. The thumbscrew holds the dowel in place, and the ply keeps the thing parallel to an edge. If the bevel on the blade faces the ply piece, and if the blade is mounted at a slight angle, it will pull the ply piece towards your workpiece, so it doesn't wander. I'm sorry this description isn't clearer - let me know if you want me to try to re-explain it. At one point I found some illustrated plans for making your own marking gauge online, but I can't find them now. Good luck, Andy
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You don't intend to mark the entire distance of the depth of the tails do you? You'd be stuck with cut-in lines between the tails, use a pencil for that line. But I think it would be better to use the kind of gauge that uses a wheel cutter instead of a pin, which would do some shredding of the wood. My suggestion is buy this one: http://www.leevalley.com/wood/page.aspx?c=2&pI133&cat=1,42936 or their 3-in-1, don't make one.
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Many makers cut that line in deliberately, even for routed dovetails. Sme years ago one of those strange orange-skinned TV antiques chappies said that "good dovetails were marked out with a knife" and so ever since then this has been seen as a sign of "genuine" work.
I admit I leave the lines in place on drawer sides, but not on the outside of a carcase.
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