In Shop Blog, Techniques

We may receive a commission when you use our affiliate links. However, this does not impact our recommendations.

With every project there is always some tool that deserves an Academy Award-style acceptance speech.

“In building this chest of drawers I’d like to thank my mom for birthing me, Hanes for making the underwear that needed storing and my shoulder plane for fitting all the tenons in the web frames.”

As I wrap up the joinery on the Chinese stool I’m building this week, I already know which tool is a shoo-in for the award: My Chris Vesper bevel gauge. Every joint in this stool is completely hand-cut. And every joint is at an angle or is compound. (The tenons that attach the stretchers to the legs are angled at 5Ã?° while the shoulders are at 14.5Ã?°. Wacky.)

So the Vesper bevel gauge is one of four bevel gauges I’m using to guide my layout and my mortise chopping. Last night as I was cutting a tenon I pushed my carcase saw aside, which pushed my mallet, which pushed the Vesper gauge onto the concrete floor, lemming-style.

I picked it up and checked for damage. There was none to the brass body , I think the gauge landed on its blade. Then I checked the bevel’s angle setting, which has been locked in for two weeks. It hadn’t budged.

The Vesper gauge really has an iron grip. I’ve yet to encounter one that does a better job. Plus, like all the tools made by this young Australian, it is flawless. If you’d like to read more about Vesper and his tools, borrow or buy a copy of the latest Fine Tool Journal. I interviewed Vesper after he visited our Woodworking in America show in Berea.

His bevels start at $160 U.S. In the interests of full disclosure: I bought this gauge from Chris during his visit. Actually he bought two of my books and I paid him the difference. I think I paid him all in $20 bills. Now that I’ve admitted this in public, my wife has carte blanche to buy another pair of shoes.

– Christopher Schwarz

Product Recommendations

Here are some supplies and tools we find essential in our everyday work around the shop. We may receive a commission from sales referred by our links; however, we have carefully selected these products for their usefulness and quality.

Recommended Posts
Showing 14 comments
  • Anton Ego

    I have a bevel gauge light and cheap. It is made of plastic and steel. It falls from the table at least twice a week without scratches and without losing the setting (i think because of his lightness).
    So why should i buy a $160 bevel gage when my $5 do the same job and resist to the same treatment?

  • Mark Green

    Are you sure that the yellow metal part is brass? Looking at the price, i think it is some kind of gold alloy.

  • Larry Gray

    Larry, you own some perfectly good Shinwa and Stanley bevel gauges.
    Larry, you own some perfectly good Shinwa and Stanley bevel gauges.
    Larry, you own some perfectly good Shinwa and Stanley bevel gauges.
    Larry, you own some perfectly good …

  • Gregg

    You have to stop telling us about these great tools! My collection is getting way too large and my bank account way to low.

  • Jon S.

    My wife used to buy shoes after each of my tool purchases, but I took her to a wood turning class and now she makes pens instead.

  • Chris Vesper

    Well I don’t recommend dropping my bevels onto concrete although right from the first ones I made I always knew they could take the punishment. They are in fact tough enough to be used by a chippy (read: wood butcher) on a building site risking being dropped from a first floor or worse.

    Here is the official word from the maker: I am astounded it didn’t lose it’s setting on the blade! Surely you didn’t weld it in place working on the same job for two weeks Chris?

    For those interested you can read the actual reviews and articles from FTJ and elsewhere on the In The Press page on my website.

  • Roger Nixon

    If you had a tool tray, that wouldn’t happen. 🙂

  • Christopher Schwarz


    The trick is where you get the third hand….

    It’s not a big deal, really.


  • Ethan

    Is it a trick?

    Don’t you just have to assemble all three joints at the same time? Lay them down on the assembly table in an "exploded" position (without the M&T’s touching), slowly guide them together with the edge of each tenon barely in their mortises, then slide the pieces towards a center point?

    Or is it not that simple?

  • Richard Dawson

    OK, I haven’t seen a tease like this since high school.

    What is the "trick?"

    (Megan, please note the punctuation.)

  • Christopher Schwarz

    Nope. No floating tenon. It’s a trick….


  • John Griffin-Wiesner

    Very nice-looking gauge.

    But what I keep looking at in that photo is the three stretchers and how to put them together after the M&T’s are cut. One of them has to be a floating tenon, right? 😉

  • Andy

    I saw those (and talked to Chris) in Berea also. And I drooled over them. Very very nice… Thanks for your write-up!

  • JC

    too bad it didn’t land on a horse mat.

Start typing and press Enter to search