12 August 2009
Any good at sums?
It has to be a fact of life that all woodworkers like tools and the shinier they are, the more we seem to like them. We're encouraged to part with our hard earned cash for what can be in some cases a pile of useless rubbish which, after struggling to make work for a few days is kicked into touch never to see the light of day again. On the other hand, there are beautiful tools produced now by several well known manufacturers, most of which are guaranteed to set the salivary glands dribbling in any half-respectable wooodworker...and I have to admit that I'm no exception. But the question should really be asked...do we really need these wonderful tools? Fabulous though they are to own, the answer is more than likely a fairly definite 'no!'
A case in point is the very humble marking gauge and similar derivatives.
One of these essential tools simply isn't enough...there you are, beavering away in quiet concentration making something delicate that requires the 'set' to be kept on a gauge for a while. If you only have one, it's a continual process of altering the set on your gauge which is a complete nightmare...you need at least six for comfortable working.
So what's the solution? Assuming that you've got bottomless pockets and can fork out humongous amounts of cash then you might like to invest in the LN Titemark gauges which are very, very guchi...six of those though would cost £456 and give good cause for SWIMBO to launch another one of those epochal, glacier melting glances in my direction, accompanied by 'the silence.' Not good, not good at all!
Faced with this dilemma, and being fairly resourceful I thought about making some out of wood...after all, it shouldn't be too hard, should it?
My first attempt was the rosewood gauge shown in the last pic. This had a solid stock with a tapered, 6mm mortise for the wedge...the first and very last time that I am going to try this sort of construction. The wedge actually bears on a saddle that sits on top of the stem, so that there's far more pressure on top as the whole thing locks solid with a gentle push of the thumb.
Then I had one of my all too rare genius ideas...why not laminate the stock in four parts with the wedge in place (suitably waxed)? It's a fairly standard method of construction for Krenovian style planes and has become an accepted part of the woodworker's armoury over the last decade or so. Once I'd ironed out all the niggles (not that there are any) it's a dead cert, cast iron, 24 carat, foolproof way to equip yourself with as many gauges as you need. The timber can be sourced from the off-cuts box and the pin is simply a masonry nail ground and polished using a Proxxon mini drill, so six really good gauges can be made for about 20p.
The other gauges shown are all made in the same way (a large panel, pencil and marking gauge)
£456 versus 20p...you do the sums!