In Shop Blog, Techniques

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Marking gauges have all manner of ways for you to lock the head to the beam, but most involve a screw or wedge mechanism. I think the coolest method I’ve ever seen is a cam-lock on the vintage Star Tools gauge.

The head locks on the beam by twisting the head (or beam). It locks quite well, and without things shifting around like on some cheap gauges. Both the beam and the head look to my eye to have a fairly complex shape to create this interlock.

Boy was I wrong.

This week we’re polishing up a story by Jim Crammond on how to make these gauges for the February 2010 issue of Popular Woodworking. I had to draw the gauge in SketchUp using Crammond’s instructions. It seemed like a wack-nutty CAD exercise, so I blocked out about four hours to complete the drawings for publication.

It took about 15 minutes.

The shapes are simple and elegant. And once you understand how they work, these gauges are a cinch to make. I can’t wait to build a few.

Below is a video that shows how one works. And check out the original patent application and drawings.

– Christopher Schwarz

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Showing 7 comments
  • Sharon Lev

    very cool indeed. just got my LV gauge literally 5 minutes ago (ironic), but this one will be a nice addition regardless.

  • David Chidester

    I am really looking forward to this! The articles about making our own tools are awesome! I never used to think I could, but because of the recent articles and blogs you’ve done about it, I’m going to give it a try. Keep them coming!

    Ow, and I totally agree with Josh. They’d make excellent Christmas gifts.


  • Diego de Assis

    Wonderful idea, simple and efficient. Thanks!

    Diego de Assis

  • Jerry Thompson

    you contiue to delight, amaze and awe me, even if you do continue to baby your bench.


  • Jack

    They are very easy to make and work well. Fran Klausz did an article on making them about 15 years ago also (American Woodworker #42.)

  • Josh

    Wow! Y’all find some of the greatest things. Now I can’t wait till 2010. Too bad you couldn’t get it out earlier, they would have made awesome Christmas gifts.

  • Rick Harding

    Awesome! Jim representing the SEMIWW group with some great stuff. Can’t wait to see the article.

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