If you want to do woodworking then you will need to have a marking gauge on your tool list of things to own. But what kind of making gauge should you own? Well let’s talk about the types available and you can decide which one is best for your work.
Marking Gauge types.
Essentially there are three types. The pin, the knife, and the wheel. All of them have a moveable fence, arm, and some type of material for marking the wood. Each has its own pros and cons.
A marking gauge with a pin is a very old traditional tool. When working with the wood going with the grain it does a very fine job of making the wood. However, when going across the grain, the pin tears the fibers more than cutting them. Because the pin is actually round it is wider and pushes across the wood grain much like a boat parts the water as it moves forward. This is not terrible but will require more planning or sanding to remove the mark.
A marking gauge with a knife on it is wide in width but the tip comes to a nice point. The knife style is found mostly on old Asian-style marking gauges. It really excels when going across the grain of the wood. It leaves a nice fine line that is crisp and clean. But sometimes when going with the grain, I have found the knife edge will track with the grain of the wood, much like a plow in the ground. If the grain of the wood runs out towards the edge, the marking gauge can track and move away from you.
The wheel marking gauge is a more modern type. It has a circular beveled disk on the end of the arm. In my opinion, it’s the best method for marking with and across the grain of the wood. This is the style I would recommend. But this does have a drawback. Some wheel types have a small locking button on them. And because the tool is round, this can cause the marking gauge to roll off your bench. Also, some of them can feel small and awkward in my hand, making it the least desirable to use especially if I am using it a lot. I will say that the Woodriver marking gauge I have in the picture won’t roll off my bench and has a good feel when using it.
Some marking gauges have more features such as two markers for making mortises and tenons. They also can be a combination of single and dual pins. Some have a regular ruler or scale on it, or they can have a digital one. For me, those are not always necessary but can be useful sometimes. No matter which one you choose, I think you will find you will use it a lot.
Chad Stanton – Stanton Fine Furniture 7-29-22