Japanese Marking Gauge Finished

There are a variety of mechanisms for clamping a marking gauge’s iron(s) or beam into place but it generally comes down to one of two — a screw or a wedge.  I toyed with both options and chose a screw as the simpler and quicker route.  The only shortcoming of the system was that I did not have a “nice” screw to use when making it, an embarrassing inventory problem that can be resolved in the future.

In addition to the screw clamp I decided to add a pressure pad to the inside of the gauge block.  I’ve always found this to be an elegant add-on as it looks nicer to my eye at least, and prevents the screw from disfiguring the iron/beam.

My first step was to drill and tap the access hole in concert with the screw I had on-hand.  (As an aside, I once spoke to a woodworking group about tool making and asked how many had a tap-and-die set.  Most hands in the room went up.  When I asked how they used the set in their shops, there was a unanimous response of, “Never.”   I use mine so much I hardly ever put it away.)

As I alluded all I had was a steel thumb screw, not even a brass one was to be found in the inventory, much less an ivory one.  I’ll have to get or make a new one at some point to overcome my shame.


With the screw-hole drilled and tapped I went grazing in the scrap box and found a tiny piece of unidentified tropical hardwood (bocote?) from whence to fashion the pressure pad.  This was a mostly filing exercise.


I honed the cutting bevels one last time with a fine diamond stone then cut the irons to length at about 6″, and before you knew it, the tool was finished.