Marking Gauge for Woodworking




About: Mostly woodworking related projects with a special interest in toys, musical instruments and vintage tools.

I made this Marking Gauge for using in woodworking projects, but it could be useful for other crafts.

I made it using the following tools and items:

Hardwood - I used Oak for the Handle and Poplar for the Stock, but they can both be made from the same wood.

5mm Allen Key for the Cutter.

6mm Furniture Bolt and small piece of Hardwood for the Thumbscrew.

Wood Glue.

Super Glue (optional)

A Woodworking Lathe, although the handle could be made square instead of round.

Wood turning tools. (Not needed if the handle is not made using a lathe)

A Hacksaw.

A Hand Drill. (Drill Press optional)

5mm Brad Point Drill Bit

6mm Brad Point Drill Bit

25mm Spade Drill Bit

Small chisel.

Rasps and Files.


Wood Finish of your choice.

Step 1: Select the Wood

I decided to make two tools as I will be keeping one and sending the second one as a gift.

I selected two pieces of wood, long enough to make both tools.

The measurements are not critical, but they need to be able to make a tool that will be comfortable to hold while using. The handles I made measure around 7cm long and 2.5cm in diameter. The Stock is around 2.5cm thick, 3cm high and 5cm wide. The handle needs to be a bit shorted than the length of the Allen Key. I designed the tool so that the cutter is recessed into the face for safe storage and carrying and the cutter is released for use by pushing forward from the end of the handle. This will be self explanatory later in the build.

Step 2: Creat the Handle

I wood-turned the handle between centers from Oak, but a square handle would also work.

Here I marked the center position using a parting tool, then shaped the handle using a skew chisel.

I shaped a Tenon in the center with enough length for two tools when cut in the center. The tenon should be long enough to sit flush with the face of the stock when assembled. I made the Tenons longer than needed to leave room for error and cut them flush later.

Step 3: Make the Stock

The stock is the part of the tool that will rest against the piece of work to be marked.

I made the Stock rectangular shaped, but they could also be made round or a shape of your choice.

I cut the Stock to size and drilled a 25mm hole in the center using a spade bit mounted in the drill press, but a hand drill can be used. To prevent tear out, drill part way through from one side until the tip appears and then continue to drill through from the other side using the hole made as a guide.

Drill the handle down the center using a drill bit slightly larger than the size of Allen Key used as a cutter. I used a 5mm Allen Key and a 6mm bit to drill through the handle. I used a Brad Point drill bit for this step.

Once the hole is drilled through the handle to receive the cutter and the hole in the stock to receive the tenon of the handle, then glue in place using wood glue.

Step 4: Shaping the Cutter

Cut and file the Allen Key to form the cutter.

I cut it to provide a depth of 15mm. This is to leave enough material for future sharpening and help to get the longest use out of the cutter over time.

I shaped the end to a focused point and flattening the two faces shown to a wedge for a clean marking cut when being used.

Step 5: Make the Thumbscrew

Using a small piece of Hardwood, drill a 5mm hole through the center.

The Thumbscrew can be shaped to how you like, so the dimensions are not critical. The measurements only need to match the design you like the look of.

After drilling the 5mm hole, thread the Furniture Bolt through and apply a few drops of Super Glue (wood glue will work also) and finish threading the bolt in.

Finally shape the Thumbscrew using rasps and files, then apply a finish.

Step 6: Recess the Cutter in the Stock Face

Fit the cutter in the handle and mark around it using a pencil.

Cut away the recess using a small chisel until the cutter seats in neatly when pushed all the way into the Stock.

Step 7: Fit the Thumbscrew and Assemble the Marking Gauge

Drill a 5mm hole in the top of the Stock that is aligned to the center of the handle.

Drill until the bit appears in the 6mm hole drilled through the center of the handle.

Using a 6mm threaded bolt, create a thread for the Thumbscrew in the Stock. The Thumbscrew will hold the cutter securely in position after setting the marking depth.

The Thumbscrew will need to be cut to length using a hacksaw. The thread needs to reach the center of the handle with a small amount remaining above the Stock.

Step 8: Using the Marking Gauge

Set the depth you need to mark on the work piece by extending the cutter from the handle then securing using the thumbscrew.

When the cutter is recessed into the Stock it can be pushed forward from the back of the handle.

The Allen Key I used to make the Cutter extends to 9cm and is still secured by the Thumbscrew.

Step 9: More Images

These are a handy and sturdy marking gauge to add to your tool collection.


Namaste :)



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34 Discussions


2 years ago

Cool. I needed one of these just a couple days ago and I think I'll make this one.

I think I'll probably file only the inner edge of the allen wrench, leaving the outer edge at 90 degrees, so I can set and mark flush to an external surface,

3 replies
Wood YogiDavidF15

Reply 2 years ago

Great :) Please let me know how it work out.

DavidF15Wood Yogi

Reply 3 months ago

It works great. Mine is much uglier than yours though. I used a scrap piece of firewood-cherry for a combined handle-block, and a bent carriage bolt for the thumbscrew, but I like the recessed slot that the entire Allen-wrench scribe sinks back into.

Wood YogiDavidF15

Reply 3 months ago

Thank you my friend :) It dosen't matter how they look as long as they do the job :) I would love to see how it looks. If you can post a picture that would be great.


1 year ago

Nice i'ble!

Would it be possible to scratch the measurement marks in to the cutter itself?
So you don't have to measure at a ruler... ;)

2 replies
Wood YogiDwargh

Reply 1 year ago

Thanks Dwargh, It sounds like a good idea. I'm sure a small diamond file would work :) I use this gauge on a daily basis using the ruler method and it works great, but I may try a cutter with measurement marks in the future.

DwarghWood Yogi

Reply 1 year ago

You're welcome! Great to read that you're about to consider the idea! ;)


2 years ago

Are the threads cut into the wood by the thumbscrew sturdy enough to last? I'd put a brass threaded insert in there, personally, like one of these.

9 replies
Wood Yogibruce.desertrat

Reply 2 years ago

Hi bruce.desertrat,

I planned to use those inserts, but the threads cut into the wood are really strong and hold the cutter in position well. The cutter marks a line without much pressure at all, so an insert is not really needed although it will add strength and look nicer too :)

bruce.desertratWood Yogi

Reply 2 years ago

That's good to know. I've got some pieces of mesquite and italian cypress at home that should be more than hard enough for this...and about 475 random assorted Allen wrenches laying about :-)

My firewood pile :-) I did some major pruning of a couple large mesquite trees in my yard a couple years ago and got several long chunks of 4-5" diameter branches, and the Italian cypress came from a tree that died on the property a few years back. None of it is sufficient to make big things, but for small projects like this or small boxes, etc, it's great.

This was the cypress last week after the tree service took it down. The wood smells wonderful, and is very hard and dry, since it's been standing dead for a few years. As it's cypress it's really rot and termite resistant.


if you want to use the wood in any way, especially for using a plane, soak the wood in water for 3 days to a week and a half. change the water once a day

Small pieces from my firewood pile also :) There are many sources for
free or low cost wood. A couple of years ago, I thought I would never
have enough for projects, but now I have a lot of wood stored. Ask
someone you know with a woodburning stove or heater if you can rescue a
few pieces from their pile. Also good to ask carpenters or anyone
working with wood for scrap or offcuts, you will be surprised at the
amount of stuff thrown away.


2 years ago

Well presented. Simply beautiful piece of hand crafted tool. I like it... nicely made.