Any wood that's hard if you're going to be using it a lot. Any wood
that's soft if you'll be treating it gently. Seriously - you could
use just about anything. I've seen them in walnut, oak, mahogany,
ipe, various flavors of pine. Most people make them out of pretty
The traditional materials for these are beech or yellow
birch at the low end of the cost range, and boxwood
or rosewood at the high end. Once in a while a marking
gauge pops up made of ebony.
You want reasonable dimensional stability and wear
I understand the reasoning, but why is that really necessary? As long
as the wood doesn't twist or cup after you've made it you can use
pretty much anything. You're rubbing wood on wood, and not applying a
lot of pressure so a wood like pine is plenty hard enough to withstand
decades of use. Even wood that has a fair bit of movement due to
humidity change won't affect it because both pieces of wood will grow
or shrink. I wouldn't use cedar, redwood or bass wood, but other than
that it's all fair game. Besides, you're going to make a prototype,
and having more than one is useful so you don't have to reset the
You don't want the bar or wedge to swell or warp and bind
in their respective mortises, nor do you want them to be
so loose that they wiggle in use.
Not so important for the wedge, as it is tapered, but definitely
a factor for the bar.
In the olden days time was money and time spent making
a durable tool paid off in time saved remaking them. Time
spent making a pretty tool or tool chest paid off as a sort
of advertising. My introduction to router jigs was done while
making some doors with a guy who nailed them together from
1 x 2 and 1 x 3 leaving the nail head up so he could easily
pull them out to 'reset' the jig. Those are pretty much the
two extremes to consider and each has its place.
Multiple gauges are very useful. It also helps if they are strong
enough to not break when dropped or when something heavy
is dropped on them. Plus someday a woodworker may be
able to remark to his/her/ son or daughter that this is a tool
their grandfather made. Wish I had a few of those.
eBay is good. They grow ready made, and they're only cheap.
Otherwise any stable, close-grained hardwood is perfectly suitable.
Rosewood, mahogany or ebony are traditional for high-end pre-20th
century ones, beech is common today for cheap ones. Maple would be
fine too. Use something with good surface hardness for the wedge
(boxwood, hard maple).
Yeah Ipe sounds like eBay and I just wanted to make sure. My spell checker,
"it", has, more often than I care to count, substituted words that "it" did
not recognize with words what "it" thought I meant. "It" will do this if
"it" happens to be working on that day. '~)
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