Instructables
Picture of How to make a Cutting Gauge

Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials
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Supplies:

1" x 2" x 24" Red Oak Board (craft/hobby area) - $2.24
Knurled Screw - $0.92
Wood Insert Nut - $1.24
Junior Hacksaw Blades 5 pack - 2.88
1/4" Dowel rod (Optional if you have a Dowel plate)

Tools:

3/4" chisel
small files (I just had a set of cheap ones I bought at a cheap local tool store, pretty junky but they work ok)
Combination square (or try square)
Coping saw
Spoke Shave (optional)
Block plane
Rip saw
Crosscut saw or Dovetail saw
Flat head Screwdriver
Dremel 
metal cutting disk for Dremel
metal grinding cylinder for Dremel
Dowel Plate (Optional, if you don't have one just buy a 1/4" dowel)
Pencil
Permanent Marker
Drill (or hand drill)
Drill Bits (1/4" and 3/16")
3/4" Auger bit (or paddle bit if you have a electric drill)
Tape measure
Sharpening stone

Step 2: Cutting the Backstop

Picture of Cutting the Backstop
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Taking your Dovetail saw cut a 3" long section of the Red Oak off.  Then take a Block plane and smooth off the cut lines carefully ( it's easy to tear out the corners).

Step 3: Chamfer the corners

Picture of Chamfer the corners
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Make a mark at 1" and 2" on the top then another mark at 1 1/2 " on both sides then connect the dots.  This should be 1/2" down from the top edge.  Cut it out with a Coping Saw then smooth it out with a spoke shave.  This step isn't essential its just cosmetic but it does look nice.

Step 4: Cutting the Square Dowel

Picture of Cutting the Square Dowel
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This step is optional if you decide to just buy a square dowel but it's really not too hard.  The wood is already 3/4" thick you just need to make a cut at 8" length then cut the height down to 3/4".  This will leave you with a 3/4" x 3/4" x 8" square dowel.  The last photo has a 3/4" Auger bit and a 3/4" chisel for proportion and because they are needed next.
 
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Nice project. Anyone who considers themselves a woodworker should have several marking gauges.

As a retired woodshop teacher, I have to comment.

In step 1, before you round off the top, mark the diagonals on the face. This will give you the center and account for any vagaries in size.

Also in step 1 you use a spoke shave to round the top. Someone less skilled may find it easier to use a file to shape the top. It will give more control. (You may like the result better yourself.)

Last. You spend a lot of effort converting a saw blade into a cutting edge and then cutting the mortise to fit it. If you drill a small hole instead, you can use a sharpened nail to do the job. Some sharpen the nail like a pencil, I prefer to grind the end of the nail at a 30 degree angle it gives a nice edge and is easy to keep sharp. Old drafting compasses were sharpened this way. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Cyrkiel_RB1.jpg) You said you were a bit of a cheapskate, so am I. I just saved you $2.88 :)

I like that you use a lot of hand tools. Less noise and more skill required.

Again, nice job.
I had also the idea of using a ball point stuck into the hole instead of a sharpened nail. Actually it is very practical for long markings and not too fine jobs in "crude" carpentry. This way you're sure to see the marking on wood that is barely planned. Of course this shouldn't be used for normal carpenter or cabinet making.
Use a pencil not a pen. The ink may bleed and make the mark harder to follow. It may also stain the wood making finishing harder. The nail will give you a cleaner line to follow. I use both.

Get into good habits even if it is only for rough or practice work. As you start to do more intricate work, it will pay to have the right habits.
You're right !
Actually I used it to mark long pieces of wood to shape into a mast for a boat. Stains were not really a problem at this stage and the benefit was I didn't have to worry about the lead being used and not marking in the middle of the process.
For the rest you are perfectly right and it's a pleasure to talk to people like you.

Congratulations for you name too : I love technofossils ! …Although I have almost the whole paraphernalia of modern times (mac, ipod, ipad, etc…) I am quite one myself : some of my friends call me a luddite !…
My belief is that NASA technology is not as great as one may think as you can't plank a boat properly with it !!… LOL
There is something about working with wood that can't be explained to an outsider. I've never meet another woodworker who wasn't eager to share. I tried to build a canoe once but never a boat.

I'm a Technofossil because I started as an electrical engineer in the early days of the computer explosion. I made a career change to teaching woodworking in high school. Never looked back.

Be well.

Hi. You are so right. I am also a technofosil (1955 model). I have designed, built and flown aircraft using wood. (God's Composite) I think I'll build one of these just because I can cheat. I have a waterjet :~)
http://www.facebook.com/cutit.co.za
It's not cheating,,,It's producing. The difference is what your goal is. When I start a project, I look at the reason. If the goal is to build a quick book case, out come the power tools. For a process like this one, working the wood by hand (minimal use of power tools) creates a bond between you and the final piece (IMHO). When I was teaching woodshop, the only power tools the my students would use were the lathe and the drill press. Everything else was done by hand. Power tools only allow you to make more sawdust faster. Be well.
thank you
you too
OK you convinced me I'm going to have to make some. Although usually I just mark off with calipers.
splazem3 years ago
Very cool!
Cheiron (author) 3 years ago
Thank's for noticing the problem on step 3 baustin,I fixed it. It should have read 2" not 2 1/2".

BTW very nice work PS118 that looks great!

Thank you all for your comments and suggestions I especially liked the ones about preventing tear-out. It's so frustrating when you have put time in on a piece only to have it ruined by something so simple.
PS118 Cheiron3 years ago
Thanks. :)
Cheiron (author)  Cheiron3 years ago
I double checked ... you were right 1 1/2" LOL Sorry it's been a long day.
Cheiron (author) 3 years ago
Thanks!

You are definitely right about the layout. Marking the diagonals in step one would have been a better way to find the center on the top and the front and back face. Drilling the hole in the top for the knurled screw would also have been easier before rounding off the edges.

A nail would have been easier and cheaper than making a knife blade, however I wanted to challenge myself to make a wedge to hold the blade in tightly. I figured it would be good practice for making a wedge for a tusk tenon (which will be part of my next project building a workbench hehehe).
Oh, wow! I first saw this because it was featured on the front page... I had invented (or so I thought) something similar to aid in making my ukulele, marking an offset perimeter from a curved piece of wood. Never knew there was a name for it! I guess the idea wasn't original after all.
Just think, all by yourself, out of necessity, you invented a tool for a job that has been successful for millennia. Congratulations on being a secret genius!
haha, true dat. thx!
PS1183 years ago
Thanks!!! Reading your instructible gave me the ideas and inspiration to finally build my own! (see attached image)

I used a 1/2" oak dowel and a piece of 3/4 oak scrap. I also had the 1/4"thumb screw laying around, so I just tapped the oak and screwed it in. The pad underneath is just a piece of 1/4" pine dowel I cut off thin with a utility knife.

It is 7" long overall, and I should be able to mark up to 6" wide with it.

Since I had no tiny tot hacksaw blades, I originally intended to use an xacto blade for the marking point. Since I couldn't come up with a way to not have part of the blade sticking out the top, I reluctantly decided to spare the inevitable accident and went with a grabber screw.

Actually that gave a few advantages:
1) super easy to do -- just drill a pilot hole and screw it on in!
2) Easy depth adjustment -- screw it in or out.
3) Easy sharpening -- take it out, screw something together with it, put in a new one.
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Endante3 years ago
This is Awesome Cherion! Great tips on how and why you did what you did. I already have the parts in my shop and am going to make one.

I am building a celtic harp and had the same "blow-out" issue you mentioned earlier, when drilling for the tuning pins in the neck. Wated alot of good wood.

I looked around and found the answer as to why it happens and what to do about it. This wont work with the auger bits because the force themselves through is why i didn't mention this earlier.

-- this is what I found--

The WHY is that the drill bit creates a pressure cone in front of the cutting surface as it bites into the wood. as you near the far side that pressure cone can "explode" outward ripping the underside surface.

the WHAT to do is: slow way down as you near the far edge, pause and even back the drill up to let the drill clear the material it is removing out of the hole. and MOST importantly keep your drill bits extreemly sharp and ground the the proper cutting angle.

Hope this helps
baustin3 years ago
You could also add a knurled screw to the end of the square dowel to make it easier to change/adjust the blade.
baustin3 years ago
This is great! On step 3 I think you meant to say mark both ends at 1-1/2 inches instead of 2-1/2 inches.
Also, to prevent breaking out the backside of your piece when drilling through, use a piece of scrap wood to back it up and it will prevent the bit from pushing through and breaking and splintering your work. Also, if you are using a brace and bit or a paddle, you can drill just until the tip of the center of the pit protrudes through the bottom of the work piece, then you can turn the piece over and your center point will be marked for you!
Ortzinator3 years ago
It's called a mortise gauge.
No, a mortise gauge has two blades or scribers that can be independently set to mark out both sides of the mortise or tenon.
Cheiron (author) 3 years ago
This was the first time I have done a through mortise and also the first time I have had to make a wedge to secure anything. I try to challenge myself with at least one new thing in every project. Hopefully this will help some other people who want to get into woodworking but are on a tight budget like me :-)

Thanks for the comment
Phil B3 years ago
Congratulations. The more you think about it, the more you will find other tools you can make, or adapt to a new purpose. All of this saves you much money and allows you to do better work.