Pair of panel gauges


As I move towards doing more wood working with hand tools I keep coming across tasks that necessitate a new tool (Who am I kidding? I'll use any excuse to make or buy a new tool). This was the case recently when I was making the sides of a small cabinet. Normally, I would set the table saw and just rip them. To do the same with a hand saw I first needed to mark a line parallel to the side I had just planed straight. The tool for this task is a panel gauge. Panel gauges are just an oversized marking gauge with an arm that extends out much further than you'd ever need for doing basic joinery.

I have to digress a bit here. My wife likes shoes. I don't understand why anyone needs that many pairs of shoes, but I've stopped trying to figure it out. I like marking gauges. Just like shoes they all have the same basic function, and yet come in so many different styles, shapes and sizes. Even though I have a drawer full, and rarely use more than 2-3 at any given time, I find myself drawn to these simple tools. I buy them. I make them. I enjoy using them. I've stopped trying to figure it out. To that end I've wanted to make a panel gauge for some time. The afore mentioned project finally prompted me to take action.

After some time searching on the internet I came across the rather unusual design you see in the pictures below. Some of the things I like about the design are:
  • Easy to adjust and locks firmly in place with a simple knob.
  • Has a knife on one end for very precise marks and a pencil mounted on the other end. Just unscrew the knob and reverse the arm to switch from one to the other.
  • Easy to hold with an extra wide fence to keep it parallel to the finished edge as you mark.
  • It looks cool.
While I was at it I decided to make two (did I mention I'm addicted to marking gauges). The woods used are quarter sawn sycamore (slightly spalted) and purpleheart. The knobs are brass cabinet door pulls that I knurled on the lathe. I made small brass knobs for the screws that hold the pencil in place. The cutters came from a recycled spokeshave iron. It's not obvious from the pictures, but the arms run through a shallow dado cut in the top of the fence. This keeps them perpendicular to the fence.

Panel gauge.jpg

Mike Davis

Corporate Member
At first I thought that was just an average panel gage, then I looked closer.
It is really quite exquisite! I was going to show the Hamilton I was gifted this year but I think yours may be even nicer. I would place a very high value on that tool.

Mike Davis

Corporate Member
Aw, what the hey! Here is a $250 gage that is almost as nice as yours...


I made the little one, still have a few hardware kits if you want one.


Corporate Member
Jim, I think Mike nailed it with the word "exquisite". You always do beautiful and intricate work, this is just another fine example. Thanks for sharing!


New User
Beautiful! I made a panel gauge several years ago that I was pretty proud of, until now. Nice work.

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