Fixed Spur

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With the grain. The marking gauge has a pointed spur that parts the wood fibers for incising a line parallel to a board's edge. It also marks on end grain.


Across the grain. The cutting gauge has a knife edge that incises a line across the wood fibers, or on end grain. Turn the blade's bevel to the waste side of the cut.

Two spurs. The mortise gauge has two pointed spurs. The distance between spurs is adjustable. Use this gauge to scribe two parallel lines with the grain and on end grain.

How the Gauges Work

The cutting and marking gauges work almost the same way. Each gauge consists of a wooden fence, a stock that slides through the fence, and a bit of metal stuck through the stock to mark the workpiece. (See drawing.)

The shape of that piece of metal depends on which direction relative to the grain it's intended to mark. The marking gauge has a pointed spur that incises lines with the grain and on end grain. (Sec left photo, above.) The cut-ting gauge has a small knife that cuts across the grain and also on end grain. (Sec middle photo, above.)

When you loosen the thumbscrew on the cutting or marking gauge, the stock can slide in or out to adjust the distance between the fence and the knife or spur. As you push the fence along the prepared surface of the workpiece, the knife or spur incises a line parallel to that surface.

Despite their similarities, these tools arc not interchangeable. You do need both. You can't fiddle with one to make it do the work of the other—anyway, they're chcap enough that you can buy both.

Whereas the marking and cutting gauges are essential for all woodworking, you need a mortise gauge—which is expensive—only if you make niortisc-and-tcnon joints. The mortise gauge is essentially a marking gauge with two spurs, one fixed and one adjustable. (See

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Wood Working 101

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