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.