Made at 173: A Smaller Marking Gauge

November 10, 2019

Yesterday I wrote about the marking gauge made here at 173.  It was a fun little project, again made of scraps:

The first thing I did was laminate the two pieces of scraps leftover from the sled rebuild...

Which ended up being the fence for the gauge:

But that fence didn't use the entirety of those laminated boards, and I must confess that I did obsess just a little about what to do with the little 4"x4" scrap that was left over.  I don't usually worry about such a small piece, but it was such nice wood I just had to do something!  So I got to thinking, why not make an even simpler, but smaller marking gauge?

As you can see, this only required that little scrap, a 5" piece of scrap dowel, a finish nail, and a brass screw.  One of the fun things at 173 is that there was a small host of things that were inherited from the Moshers.  In this case, among others, I inherited an old coffee can half full of variously sized brass screws!

There's just something nostalgic about the old Maxwell House can, and that's Mr. Mosher's handwriting - from the original patriarch at 173!  Anyway, I chose a nice little brass screw and pulled out the Brasso - also inherited from the Moshers...

The smell of Brasso and the exercise of polishing brass brought on such pleasant memories of Sunday nights in my Army barracks, polishing for weekly inspections.  While reminiscing. I put a quick shine on the screw...why not, right?

Then it was just a matter of applying the ol' Minwax Gunstock stain, and assembling the little gadget...

Here's a look with the original gauge, just to give perspective:

And to prove that this is not an obsession - that's the last of the marking gauges Made at 173!

Made at 173: Marking Gauge

November 9, 2019

Mikhail Baryshnikov, that great ballet dancer from the 1970s, once said, "Your body actually reminds you about your age and your injuries - the body has a stronger memory than your mind."  Have truer words been spoken?  I've been a little laid up with a back injury for a few weeks now so I still don't have any projects of significance happening here at 173, but for the last couple posts I've been making little shop tools.  The last post was about the center line scribe I made a couple months ago, and the post before that was my newly minted card scraper.  And of course, I like to do these projects with scrap wood just for the challenge (I defend myself - it's NOT out of cheapness!) of it.  This time I used a couple scraps from the snow sled rebuild:

So I started with some dead heads from the sled slats, and a little grommet inherited from Mr. Mosher.  Turns out that piece didn't work for this project, but that was the initial plan:

But, before we get into this project, here's a diagram of the anatomy of a marking gauge:

Image from Wood Magazine

I had a hard time figuring out how big the fence should be.  I (over) researched the standard sizes, then realized the beauty of making your own tool was that it could be tailor-fitted!  I considered 3/4" thickness, but this seemed way too thin.  Then I thought about a piece of 2x4 but that would have been way overdoing it.  So I started out by gluing the two leftover pieces of the sled rebuild together...

Then cut that into three horizontal pieces, then cut the middle piece into two,  This way I could reference those two pieces to fit the beam.  

But after all that, I decided I was going to affix a ruler to the beam, so I had to refigure.  I did this by substituting two pieces of /3/4" stock which is the same size as the beam.  After the project was complete, I realized I didn't need to do that at all!  Anyway, after replacing the middle layer, I glued it all up...

Then came the sanding.  The middle two pieces were about a quarter inch proud of the back of the fence, so I first went with coarse sandpaper to knock it down.  A fun little point here...for a sanding surface, I used my 173-made bench hooks and just stapled the sandpaper to it.  This made sanding so much easier, and ensured all surfaces would be sanded smooth with no unevenness.

And here are the parts all sanded.  As you can see, using different wood in the center of the fence gave it an interesting look.  At first I was disappointed I hadn't thought of that, but after staring at it for awhile, I realized that it gave the fence a very unique look!

I taped over those center pieces with the plan of staining them a different color.  Minwax Gunstock stain has become my signature stain for shop tools made a 173, but I thought those center pieces could be stained a darker color for contrast.  I stained the other pieces very carefully, but some of the stain leaked behind the tape.  So, change of plans - I just stained the whole fence in Gunstock!

Then I just drilled a hole for a t-nut so a screw could secure the beam wherever I wanted it, and used 2-part epoxy to affix a stainless steel ruler to the beam.  For the marking pin I used a trim screw and it was done!

I love the way the stain turned out.  Instead of a darker stain in the middle, the wood I used absorbed the stain a little less than the rest of the fence, so I still wound up with a two-tone stain!  I decided not to stain the beam.  I'm not sure why - maybe I will at some point though.

Here's just a kind of "artsy" shot LOL...

In this shot you can see all the parts and pieces together. 

And here you can see the trim screw marking pin. It really didn't work out quite the way I envisioned it.  When I tested scribing a line, the pin just tore the wood instead of scoring it, and it didn't glide the way it should.  So I had to make an adjustment. 

I took out the trim screw and drilled a hole just big enough for a #2 pencil to fit snugly.  But not trusting that it wouldn't move while in use, I added a brass screw at the end of the beam to snug up and secure the pencil.  

This worked much better!  So, there you have it - another little tool made at 173!  In the end, this one cost about $1.76 because I bought the stainless steel ruler on Amazon.  Otherwise, just scrap wood and hardware already in the shop!

Made at 173: Center Line Scribe

November 3, 2019

In my last post I showed the steps for making my card scraper holder, and in that post I mentioned I used the center line scribed made right here at 173.

I even mentioned the possibility of a post about making the scribe and wuddaya know - here it is! I guess the first thing I should mention is that a center line scribe is used for determining exact centers on the edges of boards when making biscuit slot cuts, drilling dowel joints, for assembly work and more. I should also mention that such a scribe can be purchased just about anywhere, and most are listed at less than $20.

So, obviously making one myself wasn't as much about the money as it was my insatiable search to find ways to use scrap wood left over from other projects.  Here's how I made it, so incredibly simple!  Besides my drill press and a hand saw, these were the only supplies required...

I used scrap pieces I had on hand including:

1"x2"x5" piece of pine
Two 1 1/2" pieces of 1/2" diameter dowel
A 1" drywall screw

After cutting the body of the scribe, I cut the dowel pieces...

Then I marked out the placement of the dowels and drilled the holes to 1/2" depth with a Forstner bit to the holes a flat bottom.

If you noticed, I marked out the lines for placement of the dowels and to find the exact center between them.  After the holes were drilled, it was just a matter of applying some wood glue and making sure the dowels were inserted at 90 degrees to the base of the body.

This is the most important part of the scribe, take the time to find the exact center between the dowels.  Once that was determined, I used my drill press to pre-drill a pilot hole to make sure the scribing screw went into the body at a right angle also.

From there it was pretty much done!  I screwed the drywall screw in slowly because only a tiny bit of the tip is needed to scribe the edge of a board.  In the picture below, the screw needs to be backed out a bit because even that little bit is a smidge too much.

Of course I also finished it with what's becoming the signature stain color here at 173 - Minwax Gunstock stain.

To use the scribe, the guide posts straddle the workpiece, rotate the tool so the guideposts contact the wood, and then scribe.  It's just that simple!  No muss, no fuss and no figurin'!

And all from scraps and a screw!

Made at 173: Card Scraper Holder

November 2, 2019

Betty Davis once said, "Getting old isn't for sissies."  Boy isn't that the truth!  That's relevant because in the past couple years I have more aches and pains than ever, all seemingly with no immediate cause, probably just my youth catching up with me.  Right now I'm a bit laid up with a back injury so there aren't any significant projects going on here at 173, but of course I'm always in need for some workshop therapy.  The other day I was watching a video on how to make a card scraper holder:  


This guy makes some good videos and this one inspired me to make one myself.  Fair warning - this is a heavily photo-centric post.  I started by cutting a card from a small sheet of tool-grade steel...

Of course, the trick is to cut the card as straight as possible to reduce the amount of filing after the cuts are made.

Then I just used my grinder to make the cuts.  Interesting little fact here, the grinder going through the steel and into the wood below caused some considerable amount of smoke in the workshop and guess what - the smoke detector didn't go off - hmm.

Then it was time to file the long edges of the card to make it square and sharp...

Then used my brand new burnisher.

If you don't know what that is, or what it's used for, Paul Mayer has an excellent article on Woodworkers Guild of America, you can read the article here.  After that, I made the handle, shaping it a bit to make it more comfortable on the hands...

And just for fun, I used another tool made at 173 to find the center of the handle for the tension screw, the center finder and marker.  Geeze, I should do a quick post on that one(And I did the next day)!

That done, I used a forstner bit to create a recess, then drilled a center hole for inserting a t-nut.

Before I went any further, I stained the handle with Minwax Gunstock stain, which seems to be my go-to color with these little hand tools made at 173:

I also learned the proper way to insert a t-nut by drawing it into place from the opposite side by tightening it with a washer and nut.  Of course, two whacks with the hammer accomplishes the same thing.  Here you can see why I recessed the front, just to set the t-nut close to level with the face of the handle...

With another small piece of scrap wood, I made a spacer that goes between the scraper and the handle.  The screw rests in the little hole I drilled and pushes the card to the desired curve, and also helps give a little stability and support to the scraper.

Here you can see the adjustment screw with that little spacer on the opposite side of the handle:

Here it is with the scraper attached with washers and screws.

The handle side:

And the scraper side...

I gave it a test run and it works great!  The one feature I want to redo is that I'll cut a new card a little wider and add notches on the sides to help keep the scraper from drifting up from the downward pressure.  Aside from that - an excellent little tool!

Latest Instagrams

© House 173. Design by FCD.