CAM Marking Gauge


A useful weekend project you can make with stock from your scrap bin.
By Jim Crammond
Pages: 49-51

From the February 2010 issue #181
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On April 21, 1868, the United States Patent Office issued Patent Number 76,884 to Wessel Brodhead for an improvement to the field of carpenters’ marking gauges. Brodhead developed a tool that used a simple, elegant method for securing the bar to the head or fence of a marking gauge. Instead of the more common thumbscrew or wedge systems, this gauge took advantage of a cam-shaped bar that needed only a slight twist to lock itself to the fence.

Brodhead’s idea became a reality when the Star Tool Co. of Middletown, Conn., began manufacturing this style of gauge in 1872. Though the company was only in existence from 1872 to 1881, the gauge must have been a popular item as a fair number of them have survived. According to advertisements from Star Tool, it produced marking gauges, cutting gauges, mortise gauges and panel gauges that used this securing system. The basic grade of tool was made of beech with premium-grade tools offered in mahogany, boxwood and rosewood.

While these gauges are available on the antique tool market, they are sometimes hard to find, and good examples can be pricey. Because of this, I decided to reproduce a twist-lock gauge for my shop. I have since made examples of three of the styles of gauges that were produced by Star Tool.

Online Extras

* Click here to view a video of the Star Tools Marking Gauge in action.


From the February 2010 issue #181
Buy this issue now