Wedged Sliding Mortise Gauge
Make your own copy of this precision vintage tool.
by Peter Follansbee
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.
While I often wonder why people kept it if they didn’t know what it is, it’s no surprise there are so many around. Most woodworkers who use planes and benches have several marking gauges or mortise gauges around. I have about six of them – not a lot by any standard, but more than I can use at once.
Blog: Read Peter Follansbee’s blog.
Article: “The Best Oak Money Can’t Buy.”