The Marking Gauge Set




About: Desktop Support Technician by day ... Occasional hired gun rock drummer by night ... DIY home improvement enthusiast on weekends - maker of whatever I can imagine in between it all. I'm also a professional l...

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.

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Step 1: 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

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

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

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

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

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

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.



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    6 Discussions


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    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.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    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.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    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.

    2 replies

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    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.


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    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.