Saturday, August 10, 2013

Panel Gauge In Use

I never knew I really needed a panel gauge before tonight, when I used one for the first time.

In the past I made due with a regular marking gauge. That, and I avoided ripping by hand as much as possible.

I recommend avoiding ripping, if possible. But when you do, I heartily recommend a panel gauge. I had a board tonight that I had to rip into four equal widths. I stepped off the distances with a pair of dividers, and marked the lines with my new panel gauge.

A few posts back, I wrote about this new panel gauge I got on eBay. I actually didn't intend to use it, but to use it as a pattern to make one from scratch. Then use that one.

Well, long story short, I hadn't got around to making it yet, and I needed one tonight, so I pulled out this vintage one. The boxwood wedge holds very tight. The pin is a replacement, I think. It is a nail that someone pounded in and filed.

I didn't sharpen it, but it still cut a fine line in the beech plank. When I use a regular marking gauge for this purpose, it tends not to be that accurate because the narrow face becomes more unstable the farther out it is set. A panel gauge has a much wider fence which keeps the beam plenty stable.

I highly recommend purchasing or making one.


  1. Cant get by without a panel gauge. I prefer a blade over a pin, so when I made mine, I used a blade from Hamilton Woodworks.

    Your vintage gauge looks like it has nice lines.

    1. I intend to make one, one of these days. That sounds like a good plan.

  2. I have been trying out an old ebay panel gauge, never having used one before, but have not yet acquired the knack. For me the pin has been wandering with the grain despite the long (6 in) fence, but I think this is because I was putting too much pressure on the pin whereas I should have begun with a very light scratch. I was also trying to mark a line 15 in from the edge which was probably too ambitious.
    Is your pin filed to a point or a chisel edge? Mine, too, seems to be an old nail, with a chisel edge.

    1. Hi Rob,

      I did notice a few things about this pin gauge: First, it works better in one direction than tne other. Perhaps it is sharpened at an angle or something? Second, this gauge works best as a two-handed tool with one hand stabilizing the cutter, and the other keeping the fence where it is supposed to be. Third, just like with any other gauge, mine works best with a light cut first, followed by a couple deeper, heavier cuts. Take your time.

      The point is filed on both sides to make a sort of knife edge out of this nail.

      Good luck!