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 In Arts & Mysteries

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Old & new. While there are many types of mortise gauges (I have more than a few), my favorite is this two-beam wedged version. I liked it so much I copied it.

Make your own copy of this precision vintage tool.

Even after two years of working alone, I can still hear the visitors to my museum shop where I worked for 20 years: “My grandpa was a carpenter….” It’s a line I heard a lot. I used to wish for a secret button I could step on to cue, at tremendous volume, John Prine’s song: “Grandpa was a carpenter/he built houses, stores and banks/chainsmoked Camel cigarettes and hammered nails in planks.”

I had no such button; I resisted the urge to sing and the talk would meander one way or another. In many cases, it included the visitor pointing to a marking gauge and saying, “I have one of those tools – what is it?” By far, it’s the most common un-identified tool among the general public, according to my informal survey of the past two decades.


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