Introduction: The Marking Gauge Set

Picture of The Marking Gauge Set

I'm a big fan of marking gauges ... we go way back. Rulers, squares, compasses of several varieties ... I got 'em. I have a love affair with combination squares especially .. I have several. 18", 12", 6" ... heck I have 3 of the 6" model alone. I have found that 3 just isn't enough for me. It never fails ... as soon as I change the setting on the gauge, I need that measurement again.

In the past I made a marking gauge for 3/4" stock which is always set for 3/4" and 1" and it was/is great. This time I want gauges not limited by material thickness. I want to have a set of gauges that I can just grab and never have to adjust. I also want them to be free.

Of course I have poplar scraps ... I also have 1/4" acrylic cutoffs, machines screws, and superglue.

Step 1: Cutting the Poplar

Picture of Cutting the Poplar

I'm going 8" for overall length. With that you can easily mark a 1" x 6" or 1" x 8" in one shot. You could make that repetitive cut at the miter saw with a stop, or on the table saw with a crosscut sled. Another method I use is to add material behind the stock to make it more stable and reduce chances of kickback.

I ripped the 8" stock into 1" widths

Step 2: Cutting the Acrylic

Picture of Cutting the Acrylic

If you can swing it financially and find yourself cutting acrylic regularly, get a dedicated acrylic blade. Mine is made by Freud and it cuts like butter (buttah here in MA).

There is some math/thinking involved with these measurements. The poplar stock is 3/4" thick so we have to add that to the desired gauge measurement. I also prefer to cut long so I can sneak up on the cut to fine tune to finished product.

I want a 1" marking gauge
3/4" stock + 1" marking = 1 3/4"
Since I want extra, I'm going to cut this at 1 7/8"

I label each piece as I cut it to maintain some order. The critical factor is "your stock" + "your desired gauge."

Step 3: Initial Assembly

Picture of Initial Assembly

I'm using superglue for initial assembly. That will hold long enough for me to dial in the gauges on the table saw before adding screws.

I just use a scrap piece of wood as an alignment stop, apply three spots of glue, slam the parts together and clamp them for about a minute so the glue can set.

Step 4: Trim to Size

Picture of Trim to Size

Next step is to trim each gauge to its final depth. Just keep in mind the [stock + gauge] measurement and you'll be fine.

Sorry about the upside down measurements ... I could really use a left handed tape.

It's off camera, but I actually used a gripper when making these cuts. That held the poplar and acrylic against the fence, as well as to the table.

Step 5: Drill for Screws

Picture of Drill for Screws

I'm adding 5 screws to each gauge .. because I want to.

For my locations, I measured in 3/8" in from the long edge or rail (half of the 3/4" stock) .. then 1/2" in from each end, 2 3/8" in from each end, and 4" for the center.

I drilled the holes with a standard brad point bit on the drill press.

Step 6: Apply Screws

Picture of Apply Screws

To keep everything tight and in place, I throw on some clamps prior to driving the screws. Most of the work is done with an impact driver, but I do the last bit by hand in order to avoid stripping out the wood.

Step 7: Finishing

Picture of Finishing

For finish I'm going with 50/50 boiled linseed oil/mineral spirits. I might add a coat of wax in a week or two if I'm feeling frisky.

Now I'm ready to mark whatever my little heart desires. Thus far, I have 11 gauges. If I find another measurement being used repetitively, I can always make more. Otherwise, I can use a combination square.

Next step will be to make a storage rack ... I have yet to decide on that design.


raptor_demon (author)2015-07-05

ah so you use this to set the distance from the fence to the blade?

-BALES- (author)raptor_demon2015-07-06

I use them to mark projects like I would with a combination square, but since I never have to reset them, it's quicker and consistent.

caarntedd (author)2015-07-03

Great work, thanks for sharing.

Many years ago when I was still in school, the woodwork teacher used to cut acrylic sheet on the table saw by fitting the blade backwards. I guess that because our saw had fairly large teeth it prevented shattering or chipping the sheet by taking smaller "bites". It seemed to work OK. Cheap tricks from a poor school.

Jobar007 (author)2015-07-02

Your thumbnail looks like they are attached together. I was trying to figure out how it would work as a marking gauge at first. Glad I kept reading. Thanks for sharing this clever idea that would fit great in a shop apron.

-BALES- (author)Jobar0072015-07-02

That's good feedback. I won't be able to change the thumbnail, but I can definitely add some "in use" pictures to the first step for more clarification.

BeachsideHank (author)Jobar0072015-07-02

It took me some time to figure out what is going on too, I was focused on the tacks figuring maybe they did a scribing function but no, it's just a simple set- off gauge.

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Bio: Desktop Support Technician by day. Rock Drummer by night. DIY Home Improvement Enthusiast. Maker of whatever I can imagine in between it all. Professional level ... More »
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