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Thread: Coccobolo and Brass Marking Gauges

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Bucks County PA

    Coccobolo and Brass Marking Gauges

    Hi gang,
    Over the past few weeks I've been discussing marking gauge design with Jack (aka Timberwolf) and Hank Knight (both from WoodNet). After some initial design attempts, I decided that I liked Jack's design the best.

    With some help from him I drew up the design in 3D and made a rendering.

    I ended up modifying the design slightly to take advantage of the material I had on hand. But the basic design stayed pretty much the same as Jack's.

    The body is coccobolo that was in my scrap bin and was slated to be turned into some marking knife handles. I was able to get enough for (3) marking gauge bodies. The brass came from the scrap bin at work (Yet another advantage to working in a production facility!). The "blade" is 1/8" dia HSS rod that I ground to a point.

    After the shape was cut out using (2) forstner bits and a slick little positioning jig, I epoxied the 1/8" thick brass to the front and back. Previous to this, the brass had the holes drilled for the attachment screw. After the epoxy cured, I drilled the holes in the wood for the brass screws, installed them just shy of the surface and then peened them over. After that I filed and sanded the faces flat. The next day I used the Bridgport Milling Machine at work to mill out the 3/16" deep dado in the fence for the beam.

    The beam was made from 0.950" wide x 3 1/2" long x 3/8" thick brass. I used the Bridgport and a 5/16" end mill to cut the slot in the beam. To form the 7 deg angled sides of the dovetail "template" I used my specially designed jig at my disc sander. The holes were drilled for the blade and the 10-32 allen set screw that holds it in place.

    The 1/4"-20 knurled brass knobs were purchased from Woodpeckers. But the first one (and best looking) came from Jack.

    After the construction was completed, the brass was sanded and polished, the body got a coat of sealer, then several coats of shellac. I followed up with some buffing and a coat of wax.

    All in all I'm somewhat satisfied with the way they turned out. However, I learned a lot about "infill" construction during this project and would do things quite differently the next time I undertake such a task.

    1.) I'd drill the holes in the brass at slightly undersized for the tapered shaft of the screw. This way I could peen them over and not end up with the phillips head showing.

    2.) I'd make the beam 4" or maybe 4 1/2" long and probably not bother with the dovetail template. I have a couple nice LV Dovetail templates that work just fine. And the added length of the beam would make the gauge more useful.

    3.) I need another type of finish. I'm not sure if shellac is the right way to go. It was a pain to keep it off of the brass. Maybe french polish? I'm not sure.

    I'll be bringing these to WIA with me tomorrow. I'd like to get some first hand feedback from those of you I meet up with.
    See ya around,

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Amherst, New Hampshire
    Wow, those are beautiful.
    Faith, Hope & Charity

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    Wow! great job on the marking gauge. I wouldn't know where to start, making something like this.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Yorktown, Virginia
    Those look really well thought out and the execution is spot on. Great job!!

  5. #5
    Yes I agree, nice job!
    I have no intention of traveling from birth to the grave in a manicured and well preserved body; but rather I will skid in sideways, totally beat up, completely worn out, utterly exhausted and jump off my tractor and loudly yell, "Wow, this is what it took to feed a nation!"

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Tokyo Japan
    Those are very nice, and I'm sure you will get years of use out of them.

    Boy it never changes does it, you make something, and by the time you are done, you know that if you were to do it again, you would do "XY & Z" differently

    I'm sure that if you were to need to get rid of those, so you could make some more, they would all find very happy homes
    The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.
    William Arthur Ward

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Salt Spring Island, BC Canada
    Dominic, Those look fantastic. I can't see this so thought I would ask if you are going to be adding a scale on the unit? Metric on one side and Emperial on the other? Or are you just using a tape to set the distance?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Well Dominic you never cease to amaze me, I like the hefty feel that they convey and I guess that it is so.

    BTW You mention peening the screws, can you get phillips head brass screws there? I mean masif brass not plated, here I can only find coated ones or slotted true brass ones ( which doesn't bother me) but it just caught my attention.
    Best regards,

    __________________________________________________ __________________________________________________ _________________
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    I also dream of a shop with north light where my hands can be busy, my soul rest and my mind wander...

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Schenectady, NY

    Beautiful !

    Excellent work as always Dom.
    Don Orr

    Woodturners make the World go ROUND

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