I Bought A Different Gauge

For more information on gauges, see our beginner site Common Woodworking.

The sum of all the parts becomes the greater.

It cost £12 with free shipping and the design intrigued me. It comes from an era when manufacturers wanted different because different was patentable and patentable meant protection and protection might well lead to profit if the design was liked. Even without cleaning and oil it works well enough despite the broken piece that I’ll repair easily I’m sure.

The threaded brass rod has been milled with two rebates that retain the rod in the wooden stem by a groove. It’s compact and neat, neatly done and effective. It would be easy to replicate with  rod of all thread in brass and a brass nut with grooves filed into it. So here I am with yet another mortise gauge I may well keep as it is rather than convert it to a combination gauge. It does need a little restorative work to make it feel good in my hand. 15 minutes work I should think. Yes, I’ll use it, but alongside my others. I have always liked gauges made by Mawhood, and Rosewood always look lovely no matter the tool.

This one was evidently dropped and that’s what cause the split.

Judging by the pins and the wear-face of the stock it was never used much by its owner. This is very typical of tools made over a 50 year period prefacing the postwar era when the machine would ultimately take over to replace almost all hand work. That’s why we, certainly in the UK, have this plethora of woodworking hand tools to kit out with for peanut prices. £12 is really a small amount to pay for a lifetime tool and you can get tools like this for less if you wait and bide your time.  


    1. It looks like a Marples, except for way the the threaded rod is adjusted, with the knurled nut. Very odd indeed.

  1. the restoration would be a good subject for a video — another piece of wood saved from the burn pile. Going from neglect and disuse to “mine”. Cheers

  2. I do the same thing with saws. I purchase them because people have no idea how to sharpen them and restore them. Funny, most of mine came from the UK!

  3. Interesting design. Although, the rod doesn’t need to be threaded this long unless you have an extremely wide chisel.
    I would be interested to know how to make the (inverted) T groove in the beam with simple hand tools.
    Happy New Year.

    1. I didn’t consider retracting the adjustable pin in the gauge head to serve as a single pin gauge but then it might be impractical because the main screw is pushing on the threaded rod. Let us know.

      1. May I say the stem should be installed upside down? That way the main screw will be pushing the back of the stem, instead of pushing the threaded brass rod.

        But on another thought – unless the threaded rod nut has a really tight fit in the stem, the threaded rod should really be tightened up by the main screw so that the spacing between the pin won’t easily change.

        1. The eternal problem with any nut/screw adjustment is how much slack you tolerate. Spring washer and second locking nut?
          It is easier to put another single pin on the other side if need be.

          Now, for example, Pfeil chisels go from 4 mm to 40 mm.
          With a tenon width of 40 mm, we are not anymore in furniture building. So an adjustment range of about 40 mm should more than adequate.

        2. If you take another look you’ll notice that the threaded section of the rod is flattened where the main screw contacts it. This means the threads won’t be damaged by tightening the screw. Also with this method the main screw not only locks the stem from moving but also the threaded rod.

  4. Seems like a good design having the width setting (pins) independent from the distance setting. At least it looks that way to me. As a clumsy person I inevitably let the pins slip while centering the gauge…

    1. They would have used a hand held power router. Remember that the first hand-held power routers go back to the mid 1910s. Air-driven to start, until the electric motor replaced them. The first plunge routers will now be 70 years old to date. Seems amazing to me as I am nearing 70 myself. So “T” grooves would not be a problem at the time this gauge was made, but it is not difficult to do the T slot with a hand made home made tool.

  5. I just watched a video by Frank Klause in which he used a cutting gauge that was locked by twisting the fence around a more rounded beam. I have never seen this style and would like to know more about it.

    1. I was also intrigued by Frank and his tools, it looked like a sort of spiral/cam lock system. I also liked his dovetail wasting bow saw, the one with the 1/4″, twisted band saw blade, I believe I’m going to build one to experiment with.

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