Introduction: DIY Marking Gauge

Picture of DIY Marking Gauge

A marking gauge is one of the most essential tools of every woodworking workshop. It is used to, very precisely, mark distances to the workpieces.

The one I have made is a traditional one and the wood I choose to use is a wonderful and quite rare wood called Carob (Ceratonia siliqua). It's a very hard wood with a pink/red heartwood and a quite white sapwood. The old trees tend to have a big hole in the middle of the log, and this makes it even harder to find the right piece to work with.

The tools I have used are my Makita bandsaw, a drill press, a router on a shop made router table and some very basic hand tools like a Japanese saw, a chisel, rasps and sand paper.

Be sure to watch the video above, and if you like it please subscribe to my YouTube channel!

Step 1: The Sketch

Picture of The Sketch

Before to start any project, I use to make a quick sketch of what I'm going to make, or I chose an old sketch from my sketchbook, to fix my ideas about the forms and the materials to be used.

In this case, I have made a sketch on a toned tan sketch pad with an HI-TEC-C brown pen . This pen has a water soluble ink, so you can shade the stroke by adding some water with a brush.

Step 2: Technical Drawings

Picture of Technical Drawings

This step is not strictly necessary, but, for every piece that I make, I use to accurately define the design and make it in a way that it can be replicable exactly the same. So I modeled it in 3D using Fusion 360, I printed the two main pieces drawing and cut them with an X-ACTO knife to transfer the measures on the piece of wood.

Step 3: Cutting the Wood

Picture of Cutting the Wood

After choosing the piece of wood I would like to use, from my woodyard, I cut a slab of the thickness I needed. In this case, been that the thickness of the final piece should have been one inch, I cut some more.

Step 4: Cutting Out the Main Parts

Picture of Cutting Out the Main Parts

I have then glued up the drawings on the wood board, drilled the holes and cut out the two main parts of the marking gauge with my bandsaw.

Step 5: Sanding and Sizing the Parts

Picture of Sanding and Sizing the Parts

After cutting out the parts, it was time to sand them to polish the cuts and to round the corners. I used a belt sander, rasps and files. I have also sized and squared off the sliding piece by fixing a hand plane to my bench vice. The coupling of the too parts have to be very precise, so it is important to square very accurately the sliding piece, so that it can slide freely in the groove.

Step 6: Making the Groove

Picture of Making the Groove

This is surely the trickiest part of the process, because the groove has to be perfectly square and precise in dimension. There are several ways to make this groove. You can use a router, a table saw or a groove plane, but I preferred to use a Japanese saw and a chisel because it was only a short groove and so I didn't risk to mess with the power tools.

The first step was to mark the groove using the sliding piece as a reference. I always prefer to do that way over measuring. Then I cut the two edges of the groove with my Kataba saw and for last I removed the excess with a chisel a little narrower than the groove. I always checked for perpendicularity during the process.

Step 7: Working on the Sliding Piece

Picture of Working on the Sliding Piece

Another key pass has been that of adding the slot to the sliding part. To do that I have used my shop made router table and a 1/4 inch router bit.

Then I have rounded the corners of the piece and drilled the hole to accommodate the marking blade.

If you want to know more about my router table, here is a video that shows how I have built it: Benchtop Router Table

Step 8: The Knob

Picture of The Knob

To make the knob I have used a piece of the same wood. First of all, I clamped the piece to a vice and marked it with a divider drawing and hexagon. Then I drilled the six holes to make it flower shaped. Then I cut it out with my bend saw and refined it with the belt sander. Finally, I glued up a female brass screw in the center hole.

Step 9: The Blade

Picture of The Blade

To make the blade I have used an old 4mm drill bit that I have first cut to length and then shaped and sharpened with a little sharpening stone mounted on a drill.

Step 10: Finishing

Picture of Finishing

Now it's down to the best part, time to apply the finish and see the real color of the beautiful wood I have used.

For finish I used a couple of coats of boiled linseed oil and, when it has dried, I added a coat of beeswax and polished it.

Step 11: Final Shots

Picture of Final Shots

This is the final shot of the finished product.

Thanks for checking out the build. You should also check out the build video for the full experience:


Alex 2Q (author)2017-08-02

Wow amazing project! I loved the video and the overall choice of materials as well as the combination of form and function.

You got my vote for the contest.

One question I have though. The blade seems to be a pressure fit and since the cutting edge is off center I was wondering if the blade might move when it is cutting through the grain?

Thank Alex! Thank you for your vote too.

Regarding your question, the blade is very hard to rotate, but, in any case, even if it was able to rotate, it will alway try to rotate in the position that require less effort to be dragged, and that position is that in which it is now.

Thanks for the clarification!

mlawing (author)2017-08-01

This is fantastic! You should definitely enter the "First Time Author" contest!

annrrr (author)mlawing2017-08-01

I agree! I keep looking back at this hoping that it has been entered in some contests!

Thank you

Thank you very much, I've done it!

DaDawei (author)2017-07-30

Beautiful. I'm inspired. Thanks.

I'm glad for that!

barben (author)2017-07-31

Beautiful, but you already know that. ;o) What I would love to know is what kind of wood looks like that? I thought it looked a little like Tennesee Red Cedar

jscott70 (author)2017-07-31

I have already made a 'standard' gauge and even though I could visualise how you were going to make it before you started, I still watched the video, mesmerising voodoo trickery or great production, I can't decide.
You could flip the stock to use the 'funky' edge on curved/shaped work.
Good job well presented.

annrrr (author)2017-07-30

Beautiful instructable and piece!

jose carlos lucon (author)2017-07-30

Very good

Very beautiful

Many thanks

Ananthurs95 (author)2017-07-30

Thats beautiful tool i really like it


coastaleddy (author)2017-07-30

It's a very beautiful tool. But I'm wondering if, when you're using it, you find the face that slides across the workpiece is tall enough? I find that the more contact between the face and the workpiece, the less chance it will tilt and go off course.

Thank you! In my opinion, an inch is a good thikness.

Muddypaws (author)2017-07-29

A beautiful tool! The grain in that wood is simply stunning.

Many thanks!

seamster (author)2017-07-29

What an awesome marking gauge. Very nicely done!!

Thank you very much, glad you like it!

About This Instructable




Bio: I am an industrial designer and a maker. I like to make prototypes, unique pieces, equipment and other stuff. In this channel I will show ... More »
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