Sometimes, One Marking Gauge Doesn’t Cut It
As I was finishing up the exterior of my “Anarchist’s Tool Chest,” I ran into a little problem while fitting the three hinges (which are 1-1/2″ x 2″ solid brass butt hinges from Horton Brasses, with a brushed nickel finish – love ’em).
Obviously, the lid and dust seal (the upper skirt) had to be in place before I could install the hinges – because I had to make sure those fit together well before I could place the hardware. But with the dust seal in place, there’s only a 1/2″ from it to the top of the case – and that was not enough room for my trusty Tite-Mark mini – a tool that for 99.9 percent of my gauge needs is the cat’s pajamas.
As you can see in the photo at right, I can’t register the brass face of the Tite-Mark against the outside of the chest and mark the edge of my hinge mortise. (You’ll no doubt also note that my mortise is already cut in the picture and there’s a coat of paint applied…because I forgot to stop and take shots during the install. Oops.).
Were I desperate, I suppose I could have reset the gauge to register off the face of the dust seal…but that would be an wide-open invitation to error. (The gauge should, of course, be set to the width of the hinge leaf and – assuming you’re using well-machined hinges that are identical in size – you want to leave it set until all six mortises are marked.) But I’d have used a combination square and marking knife before I went that crazy route.
But luckily, I’d taken the chest over to Christopher Schwarz’s shop to paint it (I didn’t want to fling paint around in my study/shop…but was perfectly willing to fling it around in his shop!), and he happened to have just the thing to solve the problem – a 4″ Hamilton marking gauge, which has a very low profile – just 3/8″ below the blade.
So while I swear by the Tite-Mark (I have two minis and one full-size version), well, I think I’m going to branch out and buy a small Hamilton gauge (a well-made and handsome tool). While I may not need a low-profile gauge for most of my work, I am going to build a smaller version of the same tool chest (or a similar one) soon…because my full-sized chest is now at home, on the second floor of my house. And it was not fun getting it up the stairs. Once I get the interior done and the tools inside, that sucker isn’t moving.
— Megan Fitzpatrick
p.s. Whether or not you want to build a traditional tool chest, I can’t recommend Christopher Schwarz’s “The Anarchist’s Tool Chest” highly enough. Yes, it has step-by-step instruction on building the chest, but of more interest to me is the philosophy behind the build, and the discussion of the small list of tools that should be in every hand-tool shop. (But I have more than are on his list. I’m a poor student – or a very good one; one of the lines in the book states: “Disobey me.”)