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This week’s Markup Monday post features that simplest and yet most indispensable tool in the woodshop, the scratch gauge, marking gauge, scribe – it has many names but one consistent function… To make a line on wood that allows it to be cut or planes down to a pre-determined depth.

They come in a wide variety of materials, sizes and construction techniques, but at its heart it always comprises at least one of each of a sharp point or edge, affixed to a bar, with a sliding stop to fix the depth. The simplest wooden models feature a cam lock profile on the bar which allows the sliding stop to be set with a twist, while more sophisticated versions feature a set screw that licks down on a channel in the bar to achieve the same effect.

This one is a steel Stanley No. 90 from the golden age with a type two Sweetheart logo, dating it to 1923-1935. It is in perfect condition, and works like the day it was made. Ten seconds with a twist of sandpaper is all it takes to keep the point sharp. It is a perfect example of a perfect tool!

the scratch gauge