Dovetail Marking Gauge Roundup
Whenever one of my dovetail marking gauges shows up in the magazine, in a blog post or a tweet, I get questions about it – so I’ve written about it before.
And today, I got another question about the one (shown above) that I use in a YouTube video on using dividers to lay out DTs. It’s the Precision Dovetail Template from Woodjoy tools, with a 1:6 slope on one leg and a 1:8 slope on the other (it’s one of the first nice tools I ever bought, so it has sentimental value to me as well as use value).
I get asked about it so often that I have a link bookmarked in my browser so I can easily retrieve it and send it along. But today, it didn’t work – so here’s a new link to the company’s layout tools page. It seems Woodjoy has updated its site – and I gotta say, it now looks much better and is far easier to navigate. The company has also slightly increased the price of the tool; instead of the $25 I paid eight years ago, the Precision Dovetail Template is now $29 – that’s perfectly fair, especially for a tool that I’ve used more than just about any other since I started woodworking.
I also have another dovetail marker that shows up from time to time when I want a more bold slope, and that’s the 1:4 Saddle-Tail from Sterling Toolworks. There’s an angle on only one leg, so it’s harder to make a mistake and mark with the wrong one (er…not that I’ve ever done that, of course); the other leg is a saddle square. There’s also a slight recess in the brass crosspiece (you can’t see it in the picture at right; it’s on the back of the wood) that makes it easy to grab and hold in place. It is larger and has a lot more mass than the Woodjoy, and costs $75. The Saddle-Tail is now available in standard slopes of 1:4, 1:6 and 1:8, but the company will, upon request, make whatever slope you want.
And if you’ve ever taken a class from me that involves dovetails, you’ve probably seen me use a 1:6 Veritas Dovetail Saddle Marker. That little aluminum marker lives in my travel kit, because at just $14, I wouldn’t be too sad if I had to replace it. (It is also available in a 1:8 and 1:4 slope).
Also worth checking out, particularly if you like uber-contemporary, slick-looking tools, are the layout tools from Bridge City Toolworks – many of them have a dovetail marker incorporated into the design.
And while I haven’t used the Lie-Nielsen Dovetail Marker, at just $35, I think I’ll have to get one when I’m in Warren, Maine this summer for the LN open house July 11-12. The brass and cocobolo tool is nice to look at, and it has a 1:7 slope (in addition to 1:6). That’s an angle I’ve never used…can’t have that!
Now cue the comments from people who prefer to make their own dovetail markers or use a bevel gauge…and think I should, too. More power to you; I prefer to make furniture rather than tools.
— Megan Fitzpatrick
p.s. If you want to learn more about the basics of dovetailing, I recommend Chuck Bender’s DVD “Dovetailing Apprenticeship.” And for more advanced joints, including Bermuda Dovetails, check out his DVD “Dovetail Mastery.“