Introduction: Quick Depth Gauge

About: Growing up in a rural area in the East of England I've always been interested in nature and trees and eventually found myself building things from the wood I could find. This has led me to follow my passion of…

In this Instructable I'll take you through making a quick and easy depth gauge for woodworking (and other things potentially) The included video will help display the steps clearer I hope! If you'd like to check out my YouTube channel for other woodworking videos and tips then that would be greatly appreciated.

You could use this gauge for a number of things from measuring the depth of mortices to the depth of a rebate, I myself will probably use it to measure the depth in various carvings I'll be completing over the coming months.

If you'd like to add any ideas or just generally say things in the comments I'd love to hear from you! You can also watch me live and chat to me on Twitch every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday - Timber Anew Live


For this build you will need :


- A pencil and rule

- A square

- A saw (not necessarily needed, the piece of wood can be any square piece)

- A 7mm and 6mm drill bit (7mm was the right size for my pencil, the dowel was 6mm, yours may vary)

- A drill or brace

- An awl (optional)

- Small knife (optional for getting dowel to size)


- A small block of wood (I used a piece of sapele measuring around 12cm long, 4cm wide and 2cm thick)

- A 6mm dowel (I used a 6mm dowel, you may use a smaller or larger one)

- A pencil

Step 1: Drill Pencil Hole

So you have a square piece of wood, it doesn't have to be 20mm thick like mine it could be 50mm thick if you wish. The main aim of the first step if to drill a hole through the face or widest part of the block at a 90 degree angle to the face of the block.

I marked the centre of the block simply by drawing lines from one corner of the block to the other, the points intersect at the centre. I then marked that point with an awl (optional) and drilled a 7mm hole through the board.

I made sure to keep checking I was drilling square and to keep feeling the other side of the board for the point of the drill bit. This was so that as soon as I felt the bit going through the other side I could flip the wood over and drill in from the other side. This significantly reduces the breakout which will make your hole a lot cleaner.

Step 2: Mark and Drill Dowel/Wedge Hole

The next hole to drill will be on the edge side of the board and will house the dowel or wedge.

The idea of the dowel is to push against the side of the pencil when it's inserted, this holds the pencil in place so it doesn't move when in use. To find the right point for the hole to go through I held a 6mm drill bit (the size of my dowel, yours may be smaller or larger) to the side of the pencil hole. I then moved the drill bit towards the hole until about 1.5-2mm of the bit was hanging over the hole. I then placed downward pressure of the end of the drill bit and slowly pivoted upwards until I could make a mark in the wood with the bit. This step is a lot clearer to see in the video.

Now using the point created by the drill bit you can use a square to draw a straight and square line around the block, this shows where along the length of the board to drill the dowel hole. You can then go to each side and measure the centre of the width and make another mark.

I then used the same drilling technique, making sure to keep at a 90 degree angle to the edge and drill from both sides.

Step 3: Assembly

You may have to resize the dowel a little to get it to fit in the desired way, I used a small knife to whittle away some of the dowel until it fitted the way I wanted.

You're then ready to give it a go! Just put the pencil into the pencil hole and get it to the desired depth, once there you can put the dowel in the dowel/wedge hole and tighten it up against the pencil.

Quick build, easy to adjust and very cost effective!

Thanks a lot for checking this out, if you have any questions or anything to add please feel free to leave it in the comments.