Pecan Wood Marking Gauge

This tool was predominately inspired by two threads, This one by jgourlay and this one about bling.

The challenge that I set to myself after the thread on bling, was to try to make a tool, that was lovely and compelling, that was composed of one wood only, no ornamentation without function, and no metal. Thats right, no brass, no steel and no bronze. Here is the result. I am fairly pleased with it, it works perfectly. All the gauges I make in the future, will probably use this locking method. I am going to make a knife for it later, so it will have steel, unless I grind a ceramic knife for it.

Here it is taken apart, this view will allow you to clearly see all the flaws.

Now for the step by step instructions.

Step 0
Turn and finish a nice dowel. The dowel needs to be finished to be sure the diameter works well. This dowel, and the rest of it, was made with pecan, the finish was applied by putting safflower oil on a napkin, and then CA glue. The CA glue was burnished and/or rubbed onto the surface. CA is not my favorite glues, but it is one of my favorite wood treatments. Go figure.

Step 1
Turn a disk and drill a hole in it. I drilled my hole a bit small and then sanded it bigger to get an exact fit.. I sanded it bigger with another slightly smaller dowel wrapped in sandpaper. Because it was taking forever, I put a slit in the dowel, Tucked the end of the sandpaper into the slit and wrapped the sandpaper around the dowel. Then I put the dowel in a chuck on my lathe, and it sanded very quickly.

Disk Diagram

Step 2
Drill a hole for the key to slide in. This hole should halfway intersect the center hole. It should go a bit past the hole so it has room to slide. It can go all the way through so that the key can toggle in and out. I liked it this way.


Step 3

Make a nice blank for the key. It should move fairly easily in the keyhole. I wanted a knob, but a plain end would do. A big knob allows more locking pressure for tender hands.


Step 4

Remove waste from the key, to allow the dowel to slide freely when the key is in the out position. Note that the key is not pushed in all the way. Also note that the material at the end of the key, keeps it from falling out as long as the dowel is in place.

I removed the shaded area, by sanding it off with a dowel between centers with a slit for sand paper, on my lathe.

Shaded area is removed to allow the dowel to freely move.

Step 5

Remove more waste in order to allow the key to wedge the dowel into a locked position. I sanded it down with the same method I used in step 4, and tested it regularly, until I was happy with the fit and lock.

Area to remove to allow it to lock is shaded

Step 5

Clean it up, make sure it works smoothly.

Finished Key

This one is pecan. I love the look of pecan, and it is one of the strongest woods by weight. This will make a lovely tool for the workbench, but I am going to make a smaller one of mesquite for the tool box!

The changeable head is a really simple thing. I put a drill chuck on my lathe and then drilled into the blank with a bit that was about the size of what I wanted to grab. Then I turned it to a taper with a knob on the end that was smaller than the swell at the front end. I then cut a slit in the big end, so that compression would grip the pencil lead. With just a touch of modification, this would hold a knife that could be rotated and locked in at any angle. The knife could be set into the tapered handle permanently, and could then be used as a marking knife separately or with the cutting gauge.

I turned another just like it, between centers, without the drill bit inserted. I left extra length on it at the large end, and left the knob end off, for a sanding fid. I put a slit in the small end of it, so I could put the end of a small section of sandpaper and wrap it around the fid. This way I could sand out the hole the pencil holder would set in, and make a snug fit. I chucked the fid on the lathe and that allowed me to sand the hole to fit in less than a minute. The hole is a bit larger at the small end, so that wedging in the pencil holder will squeeze tighter at the big end.


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