Thursday, June 18, 2009

Two Gauges

There is a rule in woodworking that is universally held to be true:

1. You can never have too many clamps.

I've apparently discovered another rule:

2. You can never have too many marking gauges.

Yes I know they are adjustable, and in theory one gauge can handle all my marking needs. And yes, if I were putting together a "Desert Island" list, I wouldn't put multiple gauges on it (well maybe one pin and one cutting...)but it seems like every time I set a gauge for the next dimension I end up needing to reset it to make one more mark. It's just a lot easier to have several gauges, each set to mark a different measurement. Besides, you can find them on the cheaper side. Thus my kit now contains a surprising number of marking gauges.

Lately, I added two more. They each needed a little work to be usable - here's the rundown.

The first gauge (or gage in the older spelling) is a Stanley #77 that I picked up on the Bay. It's a mortising gauge with a two-pin adjustable side and a single pin on the opposite side. I already had one (see rule #2 above) that I like so even though this one was a little rough and missing a small part I bought it. It's the closer gauge in the photo below.

As you can see in the photo, it was missing the brass guard inside the fence that protects the arm from the thumbscrew. It still worked that way, but the rosewood arm bears the scars of years of being crunched under the screw. The fence is stamped "Hanover Schools", so we don't have to guess how that guard went wandering off...

I didn't have any brass plate to use, but a short run out to the Blue Borg netted me some solid brass I could adapt, with plenty left over for future projects.

A hacksaw, hammer, vise, and various files made short work of crafting the new guard.

Here's the new guard and the one from my other #77 for comparison:

And a shot of the finished guard in place in the rehabbed gauge. Besides sharpening the pins with an auger file (safety edges protect the arm from being scored), all I did to the rest of the gauge was give it a light going over with mineral oil and a 3M gray pad. My goal was just to get it cleaned up and back in working order, so I didn't go for the polished brass look.

The second gauge was found in a junk bin in an Oregon store last spring. It's a bit of a mystery, as it has no maker's mark or identifying marks. It has two patent dates, one for the sliding arms and one for the brass plate on the fence (for curved surfaces) but I haven't been able to run those down on Google Patent yet. I'm pretty sure that it is a Stanley #72 - the beechwood of the #71, but of course, I could be wrong...

It has a two part arm (the arms slide on a tongue and groove joint) with independent thumb screws. Each arm has one pin.

This one just got the pin sharpening and oil treatment. Oh, and a little beeswax/oil on the T&G to help in slide smoothly.

A pleasant couple of hours in the shop and two more gauges join the stable.

Hmm. For some reason I'm reminded of a Python sketch - Mr. Arthur "Two Sheds" Jackson.

Mr. Dan "Nine Gauges" Klauder...


  1. And this is the guy who thinks I have too many boats? ( Rule #1: There is no such thing as too many boats.)

    Josh "Eleven Boats" Klauder

  2. Thanks for this; I have one from Ebay too which needs the same repair.
    Another wet day job - like all this week and next - might get it done.

  3. "Eleven Boats" - Well, if you are counting the raft, isn't it really just "10 1/3 Boats"?

    R Francis - I'm glad it was helpful.


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