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Re: Question . . .
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Question . . . ()

"Joseph, I've always wondered what is the advantage of this type of marking device as opposed to, say, a ruler, a try-square or a template. What's it especially good for ? What made you really appreciate it ? Also, why a knife instead of a pencil ?"

It is particularly good for parallel lines to an edge. There are a lot of examples of that when breaking out stock, The other day I needed a piece about 1/4" wide, it was to match a piece that had broken, I needed to first saw it out from a larger piece, using the bandsaw. I could use the gauge to copy the dimension from the broken piece; go directly to the stock; mark the piece. There is zero place for error, and the measurements a dead nuts accurate.

There are a lot of projects using joinery where marking gauges are an essential part of layout, like marking the baseline of dovetails, where that line, even on high end work, is often part of the joint's final appearance. It will also set component dimensions, excess to be trimmed and final size of say a drawer, all off the one line. And the marking gauge can do that with minimal measurements, zero error, great speed, and transfer the exact same dimension to all the parts. Similar issues exist for mortise and tenons.

The gauge is never out reach, and there are situation, where one needs several gauges to make layouts that are applied in a sequence.

There are a lot of simple tricks one can use with gauges that allow work to proceed with speed and accuracy.

Knives will leave very readable lines in some woods. They generally do not get pulled off course by grain, but care is still required. I only rarely need to sharpen them. I can transfer dimensions from tapes of calipers with extreme accuracy, particularly with calipers, where I could not get the same accuracy from a pin or pencil. One doesn't need to clean up the pencil lines. Sometimes the knife can be used to cut the final part, as in making dividers for shoji screens. Some guitar braces. And very commonly on leather materials like belts.

It can be a benefit to have gauges set up with both the bevel out and in, but if one has only the one style, bevel in to the fence is better.

I have several of these things, right up to one from Bridge City ,y dad got me for graduation around 1980 that cost nearly 400 at the time. 99% of the time I use a Japanese marking gauge with a single wide knife, that really over protrudes, I set it to rip stock, which it was not designed to do, but I find the projection useful. It is just perfect. The fence is the perfect shape, it fits the hand, but more important there are many instances where the extra length is necessary; The make incredibly fine adjustment, when you set the screw lightly, you can scouch the beam better than on any other, to get dramatically accurate setting. And they take a measurement off calipers better than any other. They cost around 20, and they are so much better than every eye candy one I have ever used. I have some LV ones that are almost unusable bad, but they have their place. For instance you can pick up something like a mortise depth with them.

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