Some of the tools I most enjoy using are either made in small numbers by artisan craftsmen or by me in my workshop in Newhaven, East Sussex. In fact a few of those tools have been used to make your gauge, so thank you for purchasing one and adding to that tradition.
The design brief for this tool and other Lowfat Roubo products is one of simplicity and economy in either materials or components, or sometimes both. I have a number of gauges in my everyday tool kit; some fancy and extremely accurate for generating baselines for dovetailing or shoulder lines for joinery and some for less critical early stage marking out. This gauge is one of the latter. The beam is married to the stock early on in the making and is made to be a loose friction fit whichever way round it is used. Most adjustments can be made while holding the beam in one hand and advancing the stock with a flick or push of the thumb in one direction or by allowing gravity to work for you in the other. The screw fastener has a leather pad on the end to resist marking the beam when tightened and to achieve a firm and reliable setting. I recommend you make sure the screw is fully retracted into the stock when swapping the beam round.
Keeping it simple
In keeping with the Lowfat brief, the pin on your gauge is a gramophone needle. It is very sharp and with a light touch can be used to make a very fine gauge line. Increase pressure and you will generate a wider groove suitable for tracking a pencil. The tip is circular in section and as such is less likely to follow the path of wood grain than a wheel or knife style gauge when used in the direction of the grain. It is not a cutting gauge and will not sever wood fibres efficiently when used across the grain. The beam is created with a generous half round profile so that you can roll into the sweep and drag the pin across the surface of the board at a low angle for greater control. The circular pin also lends itself to applying accurate centre points for drilling or driving in screws or panel pins.
Spare Gauge parts
You can source replacement pins on line quite easily in various thicknesses that are graded in ‘loudness’ by most suppliers. If you encounter problems finding a replacement just send me a stamped addressed envelope and I will gladly send a pin back by return. If for any reason you need to reposition your pin use a 1.5mm drill to create a new hole and push the pin in with a pair of pliers. There’s no need to use any glue.
The beam is drilled and tapped with an M8 thread to accept a wooden pencil. I have supplied you with two pencils that have been threaded by driving them through a standard M8 nut. The lead in the pencils is soft so as not to gouge your timber, remember there’s a pin on the other end of the beam for that. Those supplied free of charge from the counter of Screwfix, Argos and Ikea are a perfect replacement!
Your gauge has been finished with a thin coat of very dilute blond dewaxed shellac before cutting back to a semi matt finish with a ‘shop made hard paste wax. The screw thread is made from Lemonwood, also known as Castelo boxwood. It is an excellent alternative to European box and responds well to ebonising. In time you may notice the natural colour of the wood appear on the surface.
I wish you many happy hours using your gauge and welcome any feedback.