I love me some blue masking tape. I have at least four rolls of the stuff at my bench and use it for all sorts of tasks, from shimming a shooting board to stopping the flow of blood.
Yet, there is one common use of the tape that I dislike: Using masking tape as a depth indicator on a drill bit. Sure, the first couple holes you make will be OK. But the tape soon slips up the bit and you are drilling too deep , sometimes clear through your workpiece.
For many years I used the Stanley No. 49 bit gauge, which threads onto an auger. I’d show you a photo of it but mine is lost somewhere behind my bench. I’ve never liked the thing. It is fussy to adjust , like a really slow handscrew clamp.
About two or three years back I bought a new old stock Stanley No. 47 bit gauge from Tools for Working Wood. Joel Moskowitz stumbled on a cache of the suckers that were still attached to their original cards.
I snapped one up. Boy am I glad I did.
This gizmo is fast, accurate and doesn’t slip. You loosen one thumbscrew, then you can slide the stop up or down the shaft of your auger. And while it’s loose you can also move the springy stop for fine adjustments.
And, best of all, the spring makes an intoxicating “sproing” noise when agitated , just like the springy door stops of my youth. Those were one of my favorite toys. This was before cable television.
If you see one of these guys, snap it up. I’ve seen them for sale for about $20. Perhaps someone makes this style of bit gauge and can provide a link in the comments section below.
– Christopher Schwarz