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Use A Marking Gauge For Layouts

Updated: Jun 6

OverTime 8.2 explores the precision and efficiency of using a marking gauge for layouts in your woodworking projects. Learn how to achieve perfect dimensions and clean surfaces.

When I'm filming The Hand Tool Practice I do my best to show as much as I can without step-by-step narration.

But sometimes there's a nuanced topic that could use some explaining or I get a really good question from a viewer.

This video refers to:

You can find the other OverTime videos from HTP8 here:



If you're like my students, you feel like you probably don't have enough time to get anything done in the shop.

If you use the hand tool practice to spend small chunks of time with your tools in the shop, those small chunks will add up to big things.

But this is not the hand tool practice. This is OverTime.

What tools are you using to lay out your work?

In all of these hand tool practice videos, you're gonna see me using either a marking gauge or a marking knife to lay out the lines on the part.

A lot of times I'll follow up by darkening those lines with a pen. That just makes it easier for me to see my layout.

Why use a marking gauge for layouts?

The reason you wanna consider using a gauge or a knife to cut your layout lines, instead of just marking them, is that it allows you to get really precise when you're using your hand tools.

Why do you keep flicking the edge of the parts?

In the video you'll see me, while I'm planing, feel these edges and I'm kind of flipping my fingers up like this. What I'm feeling for is that little flick that happens when you start to get really close to your gauge line.

There's just a little sliver of material left, and it kind of, “ch ch ch ch” when you run your fingers over it. And that's a sign to stop.

You can switch to a finely set smoothing plane to clean up the surface, or you can maybe back the blade out on whatever you're using as a jointer.

And then once that little sliver just kind of peels away, you're done. You've hit your line perfectly.

And you're gonna end up with sets of parts that are all right at the same dimension and have a nice clean, smooth surface.

Why are you using 2 Jack planes?

Well, one of these is an old Stanley 605C, and I've got it set up like a true jack plane. The iron is heavily cambered. It's used for making really fast, really deep cuts to remove material quickly.

I did a video on that you can find it here.

The other plane, even though it's called a jack plane, I'm using it in this video as a jointer. It's got a long enough sole. It's more than twice the length of my part, so it's good enough to use as a jointer. And I've got it set up with a fairly tight mouth, and a nearly straight blade. There's a slight amount of camber. So it's basically set up as a jointer.

I have a jointer, I could use it if I wanted to, but it seemed like a bit of overkill for this job.


Appearing in this video:

Classic Stanley Hand Tools T-Shirt - Dark Grey Heather - L

Classic Stanley Hand Tools T-Shirt - Heather True Royal - L

Starrett 3” Dividers*

Time Timer Home MOD - 60 Minute*

Hamilton Tools 6” Walnut Marking Gauge

“By Hand & Eye” - Walker & Tolpin

Items noted with an asterisk (*) are affiliate links. You'll pay the same price and support my work when I receive a small commission from the retailer.

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