Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Best Things Come in Small Packages

...that are packed with shavings!

A big Thank You to Dean Jansa, who sent me one of his handmade marking gauges that's based on one found in Benjamin Seaton's tool chest.

Dean wrote an article for Popular Woodworking on how to make this style gauge, which includes downloadable plans.

The coolest thing about this tool is you can release and tighten the wedge that locks the arm in place with just one hand. Because the wedge has a little hook on the small end, it can't fall out. It can only be removed if you slide the arm the entire way out of the head.

Plus, the gauge just feels good in your hand.

Why did Dean send me this lovely little tool? He claims that when a bunch of us were out to dinner at WIA he promised to make one for me. I don't remember this, but then, he was drinking and I was not. And who am I to question the saber-sharp memory that can only come from partaking of beer's frothy goodness?

(I just hope he doesn't remember that I promised to make him a Krenov-style jointer plane.)


hafwit said...

You know its something good when the packing material is plane shavings instead of those clingy styrofoam peanuts!

EMBO said...

Lucky girl!

Woodbloke said...

Hi Kari - now this looks suspiciously like the gauges that I make, with one or two very small alterations...I like the little hook arrangement on the wedge so that it doesn't fall out. Very neat! - Rob

JCHSwoods said...


I made a few of these gauges and made a change to the arm. Based on a gauge I saw from Major League Woodworking (great tools) I changed the pin from a flattened and honed drill bit to a 1/4" wide bit of plane iron. I honed this and cut a wedge mortise in the arm, then secured it with a mahogany wedge. Great blog, I show your entries to my advanced students to show what a real crafts(wo)man can do-Jacob

Anonymous said...

Hi Kari,

Wow, what a nice gift!
But --- regarding the group photo.
I'm not sure that I'd like to ride in a plane with that rowdy looking bunch.

Warmest regards
The Village Sexton

Kari Hultman said...

hafwit, you're right! Plus, I got a chuckle when I opened the box.

Emily, don't I know it. ; )

Rob, it's a nifty way to make them. Simple, elegant, and functional. Can't beat that.

Jacob, what would you say are the benefits of using a wider cutter? Just curious—I've never seen one like that. Thanks for the kudos. :o)

Village Sexton, yes indeed, we were rowdy. Comes across in the photo, does it??? hee hee

EMBO said...

Think that works equally well for lefties, or would it make more sense to reverse the wedge? I'd have to see one to decide, I guess. Today I started a list of things in our shop that I need to remake lefty style, beginning with the bench hook...

Bob Rozaieski said...

They are a thing of 18th century engineering beauty aren't they? I've made probably a dozen or so since Dean's article came out (just gifted one myself, see my blog) and they are hands down the best gauge design I've ever used. The ability to use them one handed makes them quick to adjust and very comfortable to use. I have one as well that I set up with a pair of pins on each of the four faces set to the width of my mortise chisels. Much easier than using a sliding pin gauge as the mortise/tenon thickness is already set to the width of the chisel. No fussing with holding the pin setting while adjusting the fence.

Tom Iovino said...

Oh, Jeez... great shot of the group!

I hope you enjoy that marking gauge... it looks uber-schweet!

Kari Hultman said...

Emily, you can slide the wedge in either way, so it should work just fine for you.

Bob, I used it to layout the little plane I just made and it worked great. I love the one-handed operation, too. I'm sure having one that's set to specific widths comes in handy. That's a great idea.

Tom, I decided not to post the shot where you planted a big kiss on Roy Underhill. Oops, did I say that out loud?

JCHSwoods said...


I think that the blade instead of the pin is easier to hone and also easier to keep track of in set up. I grind the blade to a point and then grind a bevel on the two faces that the points forms. This way, the blade is not any wider, but it has a nice flat surface to register stock from.