Introduction: Make a Panel Gauge With All Hand Tools

About: I have been working with wood since I could stumble into the shop with my dad. About a year ago I moved into a house with no space for a full shop so I decided to take up all hand tool wood working. That start…

A panel gauge is like a marking gauge but bigger, and Bigger is always Better. This is a hand tool that can be in any shop. it will allow you to quickly make a mark parallel to an edge much like a marking gauge but much deeper into the board then a marking gauge can ever reach.

Tools Needed Panel saw:

Marking knife:


Bit set:

Chisel Set:

Block Plane:

Mallett: or make one here:

#4 Hand plane setup for smoothing:

Cresent Wrench:

Plow Plane:

Spring Clamps:

File Set:

Oak 3" X 3/4" X 12":

Oak 3/4" x 3/4" X 24":

1/4" 20 Threaded Insert:

1 1/2" Thumb Screw 1/4" 20:

Finish Nail:

1/8" round brass rod 24" long:

5 minute epoxy:

Super Glue:

Boiled Linseed Oil:

Past Wax:

Step 1: Shape Hole for Beam

Once you have the lumber to the size listed above. you need to bore a 3/4" hole in the middle of the 3" wide board. this will remove most of the waste for the beam to slide through.

Next, set the rod on top of the hole and trace out with a pencil or marking knife the exact size of the rod so that the circle you just drilled out just touches the 4 sides of the square rod. if you want to keep the rod square then you can remove the rest to the line you just made. I wanted to make the rod into an octagon. For that, I used a 3/8" chisel and used it to mark off each corner at 45 degrees to draw out an octigon.

Then use the chisel to remove the waste back to that line making sure to keep the chisel vertical.

Step 2: Shape the Beam

Next, set the fence hole you just made over the end of the rod so that 4 of the walls line up perfectly. Then carefully use a pencil to trace out the other 4 sides of the octagon on the end of the rod, and repeat on the other end of the rod.

Now you have lines on either end that you can plane down to with the Block plane. I get close to the line and check the fit from time to time tell it slides easily all the way through the fence.

Step 3: Shape Fence

I draw out two angles on top of the fence. I do not care much about what the angle is, I just make it look good to my eye. Then, Plane down to that line with the #4 hand plane. I like the look of heavy Chamfers on all edges and it matches the look of the octagon beam, so I next use the hand plane to chamfer all the edges o of the fence.

Step 4: Insert Threads Into Fence

Predrill out a hole to fit the threaded insert that you chose. For mine, it is a 7/16" hole. This should be center of the edge that you cut the angles off of. next use a crescent wrench to insert the threads into the hole. This is where the thumb screw will go in to tighten down on the beam.

Step 5: Cut Groove for Brass Rod

In the top side of the beam, we need to cut a groove that is 1/8" wide with the grooving plane. this should be in the center of the rod and cut to a depth of 3/32" this is about 3/4 the thickness of the rod. test fit the rod in a scrap piece of wood before actually cutting it into the actual beam.

Step 6: Glue in the Rod

I used 5-minute epoxy and a scrap piece of wood yo mix the epoxy and aply it to the grove. You may want to roughen up the brass with some sand paper first so the glue sticks a bit better. Then put the brass rod into the groove and hold it with spring clamps.

Step 7: Flatten the Brass Rod

Now the rod is sticking up a bit more than the wood on the beam. I wanted mine to be flat tot he top, So with the #4 hand plane taking fine shavings, plane it down to shape. you could also use files or a card scraper. And, no, if you are taking fine shavings it will not hurt the plane blade it is much harder than the brass.

Step 8: Shape the Ends of the Beam

I use a hand saw at the bench to cut the beam and rod flush. Yes. the saw will cut the rod. Next, use a file to chamfer the ends of the rod to look and feel good.

Step 9: Instal Marking Pin

Chose a drill bit the same size as the finish nail and drill a hole in the end of the rod opposite of the brass rod. I drilled down to the brass rod but it only needs to be down 1/2" or so. Next trim the nail so that when it is in the hole the point sticks out about 1/4", and glue it in place with superglue. you may want to sharpen the nail with a file once the glue cures.

Step 10: Finish the Wood

I use Boiled Linseed oil and Past wax for a finish and love the way it feels on hand tools. here is a video on the System I use in much greater detail.

Last, you can assemble it and take it for a test drive. it is a simple tool but very useful