How to Use a Marking Gauge

What You'll Need
Marking Gauge
Tape Measure

If you want to use a marking gauge to make a decent impression on wood and metal, then you will need to know how to handle it properly. Although it is not very difficult to use a marking gauge, it can sometimes be hard to hold it in exactly the right position as you move the wood or metal down the gauge. When you are cutting out several pieces of wood to the same length, and you need the ideal tool to measure them all out at once, then the marking gauge is perfect for the job.

Step 1 - Prepare the Gauge

Begin your process by preparing the gauge. If you know exactly what measurement you need, then move the top bar up so that it marks out the right number of inches. However, if you are not sure of the measurement, then use your tape measure to work out the size and length according to the needs of the project. Then you're ready to start using the marking gauge against the wood.

Step 2 - The Passive Method

There are 2 ways in which you can use the gauge. The first way is called the passive method, because you don't need to engage actively with the tool, and simply need to mark off the length on the wood. Take your piece of wood, and lay it on a flat surface. Pace your gauge onto the wood, so that the base is level with the edge of the wood. Then, move the pencil up the gauge, until it reaches the barrier that you have positioned. Take away the pencil, and lift off the gauge. You may want to check the first 1 or 2 marks with a tape measure, just to be sure that you have the right position. This method of gauging allows you to mark out a number of different pieces of wood with the same measurement, without needing to use a tape measure for each.

Step 3 - The Active Method

You can also use the active method for marking your wood. Take the edge of the gauge, where the top bar has been placed, and then push a piece of lead, known as a stock, into the tip of the barrier. This should be secured until you can hear a small clicking sound as you move the lead down the wood. If the stock is jumping, or unsteady, you will hear a thudding sound. This means that the mark you make will be unsteady and inaccurate.  With the stock in place, hold the wood at an angle, with the top edge of the wood resting against your chest. This is so that you can easily reach both the top and bottom of the wood, without having to adjust your position.  Put your thumb against the edge of the wood, and then push the gauge into position, so that it is holding the same line. Move the gauge quickly down the wood, until it reaches the bottom. The wood should be clearly marked with a line.