There are many options if you are wondering how to mark wood. Which one are you going to pick?
Are you going to use a pencil? Well, keep in mind that the graphite must always be sharpened, it can break, and a pencil does not always give you the sharpest mark!
Maybe you’re going to use a marking knife? It will take a long time to measure correctly and put a rule along which to start marking.
A better solution is a marking gauge!
With a marking gauge, you always have razor-sharp marking lines, and you are always 100% sure that these lines are marked parallel.
But wait! It becomes better!
What if you can make the best solution EVEN better?
A better marking gauge than all existing marking gauges!
Well, that’s possible thanks to this marking gauge with fast lock system. The fast lock system makes setting or resetting the marking gauge simple and superfast.
I challenge you to make this DIY marking gauge for your woodworking workshop and experience how great this marking tool works. You will see that this marking jig is easy to handle and the perfect partner for making joints.
On top of all the benefits of this marking tool, in addition to its fast set up, this woodworking hand tool is easy and almost free to make.
In this blog, I will explain exactly how to make this marker gauge yourself. Read this blog carefully and do not miss any important detail.
Let’s make that marking gauge!
Before we start building this marking gauge
To prepare you for building this project, I have made a few handy lists.
In addition to a few personal protective equipment that I use*, I also list the materials as well as the (power) tools you will need to build this jig.
* Safety is always your own responsibility!
Safety first! protect yourself!
Materials I used for this marking gauge
(power)Tools I used for this marking gauge
Building this marking gauge step by step
Step 1 | Making the Stem
To make it possible to use the fast lock system, the stem for this marking gauge must be made of round wood.
Thanks to the router dowel jig that I made a few weeks ago, I was able to make the round wood myself, exactly the thickness I wanted.
Do you want to make this router dowel maker yourself? That is possible! All details to make this jig can be found on this blog. There you can also download the free plans to help build your dowel maker.
Ok, back to building the stem for this marking gauge.
To make the stem, I used a piece of azobe scrap wood I had lying around in my shop.
The diameter of the round wood need to be 20 mm and the final length is 25 cm.
When making the dowel with this jig, keep in mind that the first and last 5 cm of the dowel will be unusable. So be sure to make the dowel long enough.
After making the dowel I could start sanding it.
I used 80 grit sandpaper, followed by 120, 180, and 250. This ensures that the wood feels soft, which makes working with the marking gauge much more pleasant.
After sanding, I shortened the dowel to a length of 25 cm. To make an extra-fine cut, I used my Japanese handsaw.
If you want to know more about how to determine the right sandpaper for your project, be sure to check out my blog: The perfect sandpaper grit guide for woodworking.
Everything you need to know about sandpaper can be found in this article. It will no doubt give you a better understanding of the proper use of sandpaper.
There is also a FREE downloadable guide available to help you determine the right sandpaper grit.
Some marker gauges use pins, others use knives. For this marker gauge, I made a round knife. It is easy to make and when the knife gets dull just turn it around. You can keep turning until you are completely round. That will save you time to keep on replacing the knife.
I’ll show you how easy it is to make this knife yourself.
For this, I took a washer with a diameter of 24 mm and clamped it on a bolt. Once the washer was securely clamped to the bolt, I placed it in my cordless drill.
By running the cordless drill and holding the washer at an angle of 45 degrees against a rapidly rotating sharpening stone, I was able to make a sharp edge on the washer.
Pay attention! Only hold the washer against the grindstone at short intervals to avoid burns.
I then attached the homemade knife to the end of the stem with a screw. When you do this, don’t forget to drill a pilot hole beforehand. This will prevent the wood from splitting when you install the screw.
Once you have made all steps, your stem should look like the picture below.
Step 2 | Making the marking gauge fence
To be able to sand the rough outside of the cylinder, I clamped it on a threaded rod and mounted it in my drill press.
By pressing my sanding board, to which p80 sandpaper was attached, against the side, it was sanded flat.
As a rotating point, I used the column to place my sanding board against. This way I am always sure my workpiece is at a right angle and flat.
Then I could sand more finely by using sandpaper with grit 120 followed by 180 and 250.
The edges were chamfered by pressing my file against the rotating cylinder.
After sanding, it was time to make the center hole bigger so that the stem could fit in it.
For this, I used a Forstner drill.
The problem is that the point of the Forstner drill could not be pressed in the wood since the wood already has a center hole.
If the center point cannot be fixed, the drill will swing from left to right, resulting in a dangerous situation and a sloppy finish of the drill hole.
However, the solution is very simple, fill the hole!
I did this by putting a dowel in the hole. Simple, isn’t it?
Ok now that problem was solved I could drill that hole.
Drilling that hole was done in 2 steps. I explain why.
When the marking gauge is closed I wish the blade would be deeper than the surface of the wood.
In this way, the knife is protected, and also ensures that cuts can be ruled out if the marking gauge is incorrectly gripped.
That is why I first made a hole with a 25 mm forstner drill. The depth of that hole was just a bit deeper than the thickness of the washer.
Then the rest of the hole could be drilled. Since the stem has a diameter of 20 mm, I used a 21 mm Forstner bit for the hole in the fence.
That gave me a slightly wider opening which made it easier for the fence to slide over the stem.
And then came the difficult part of making the fence, making the cross hole for the clamping system!
To be able to let the small dowel grip onto the stem, this cross hole must go halfway through the center hole.
To do that I marked a line at the top of the center hole. This line was continued at right angles to the side of the fence.
Measured at 15 mm from the front, a center point was determined where the cross hole could be drilled.
By firmly clamping the fence in my homemade drill press vise, I could now drill the cross hole perfectly perpendicular to the center hole.
The diameter of that hole is 9 mm.
To make this mark, take your time and mark it very carefully. The cross hole must be made very precisely, otherwise, it could hinder the operation of the fast lock system.
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Step 3 | Fast lock system
For the fast lock system of this marking gauge, I made an 8 mm dowel. I also used Azobe wood for this. This provides a nice contrast to the pale beech wood.
Like the stem, I made the dowel with my router dowel maker.
By making the dowel with a diameter of 8 mm, it can slide smoothly through the 9 mm transverse hole I made in the fence.
To make this dowel function as a clamp I made a groove in it.
This groove is about twice the width of the stem and the depth of the groove is halfway to the dowel, so 4 mm.
One side of the groove is made so that the stem can move freely when the lock system is set.
The other side of the groove goes up at an angle. You can see this in the photo below.
My Dremel was the perfect tool to get this job done. If you don’t have a Dremel, you can always use a file to make this groove.
After making the groove, the dowel was shortened to about 8 cm long. Because this was a very fine cut in thin wood I used my homemade hacksaw for this.
Once the dowel was cut to length, the sharp edges were chamfered with a file.
Step 4 | assembling
All parts for the marking gauge are now ready.
Before assembling this marking gauge I took my time to add wood protection. That can be done easily now all parts are separated.
To protect the wood, Linseed oil was applied.
When I apply linseed oil or wood stain I always use a stainpad wood stain applicator.
It does not fluff, distributes the oil evenly, and does not drip.
An absolute must for your workshop.
Once you have used the stainpad woodstain applicator, you will never use a rag or cloth to apply oil again.
OK, now all parts can be put together.
Start by placing the small dowel in the cross hole of the fence.
Now make sure that the deepest notch is flush with the center hole.
Now you can push the stem through the fence.
Doing this will make the small dowel locked in place and make it impossible for it to fall out.
How to use this marking gauge
Using this marking gauge is simple.
Push the pin to unlock the lock system.
Now move the stem by sliding it through the fence.
The distance you want to mark must be the distance between the knife and the fence.
Once the fence is at the correct distance from the knife, you can block it. You do this by pressing on the other side of the pin.
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Woodworking | DIY | Home decoration