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!

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