Building a Marking or Cutting Gage

Introduction: Building a Marking or Cutting Gage

About: I help run the machine shop at the University of Michigan - Flint. I started the Eastern Michigan woodworkers in 1985. It is still a growing Club after all these years. I also teach classes at Factory Two in...

Marking and cutting gages are made for different things however; they do the same job. You use a marking gage to go with the grain of the wood and you use a cutting gage to go across the grain of the wood. That is the biggest difference between the two.

To build this gage you are going to need some materials so I have added a BOM(bill of materials) to this instructable.

  • 1" dowel rod $6.37
  • 3/8" dowel rod $.98
  • block of wood that is 1.5" thick, 3" wide and 4 inches long $10. at Habitat for Humanity Restore in your area
  • you will also need something for the front of the gage to do the actual marking (wood screw)
  • total cost is probably under $20 bucks for six or seven gages

The first thing to do is to find a piece of wood that is both flat and cut straight. You can use a 2X4 if you want however I am going to use Cherry to do this as it has a beautiful figure and is easy to work with.

Here is a link to the cutting file you are going to need for the base of the gage https://a360.co/2GN2hw8

Step 1: Making the Base Block Up

When you download the link in the previous step you will get the file shown above. With this after you build your block you will have a guide to be able to drill the holes in the block with ease. You want to take and cut out the part that you will use for a guide. Using some Super 77 or other spray on cement place your paper on the block that you have cut to size. The edges should not be sanded or routed yet.

With the guide in place you can mark where you want your holes to be. You don't need to remove the paper as it will help you see what is actually going on during the drilling operation.

After you have drilled the holes in the block (a 1" hole through the front and a 3/8" through the side) you can round the edges with a sander or router as shown in the picture above.

Step 2: Making the Shaft

Using the 1" dowel run it over the joiner or you can shoot this with a shooting board and a hand plane. If you are using a machine be very careful as the wood could spin and there is a potential for a serious injury if you are not using push blocks.

You need to make the flat on the shaft about 5/8" as shown in the photo above.

Now you need to drill a hole 1" from the end of the 1" shaft that matches the root diameter of the screw that you are going to be able to use for the gage part. You are going to want this to be parallel to the flat and in the middle of the shaft. After this is done you can insert the screw into the shaft making sure that the point is well ground for a good mark.

The shaft and the block are done now we need to get the locking pin in place.

Step 3: Building the Locking Pin

The locking pin will put this all together. I find it easiest to cut the cross cut with a hand saw and then shave the pin with a chisel. I like to use a dozuki (Japanese dovetail saw) to do this because of the small curf it makes. You can use any saw you like. Make sure that you have the pin in a vise or locked down in some way as this is an easy way to get hurt. Make the pin match the picture above. You are going to want to star this cross cut near the middle of the locking pin. I would make the pin about 5" or so so that you might have some wiggle room. You can cut it off later to match what you have. Remember when you cut this off after assembly that the pin needs to be able to be pushed to the other side. So, you are going to want to have a bit of room on both sides of the base so that you can push on the pin to lock it or relieve it. You may have to sand this down a bit to make it fit into the hole.

Step 4: Putting It All Together

After you have the parts assembled insert the marking gage pin into the base with the locking pin already in place. You can adjust it by using a ruler up against the block and then adjusting to the pin. All of this is done without any lubricant. You are going to have to sand the shaft down to make it fit into the block. This goes for the locking pin as well.

There are a lot of things that you can do to make this your own. You could make the base round, you could add some brass to the ends for wear. These could either be long or round to match whatever you want. By making up a scale you could print the scale backwards and then using an iron press this into the wood.

You are going to want to remove the paper with a sanding block and now you are ready to mark wood with your new gage.

A cutting gage is the same as a marking gage but uses a blade to cut the wood. This is used for marking cross cuts on boards. The reason for the marking gage is because you do not want the blade to follow the grain so you more or less scratch the wood instead of cutting it.

This is a fun and easy project and shouldn't take more than an hour or two after you get the parts together.

With the wedge design of this marking gage you can make a lot of different projects, not only the one shown here. All you have to do is use your imagination.

Good luck

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