Rediscovering the Fish-Head Marking Gauge // Make your own woodworking tools!

Rediscovering the Fish-Head Marking Gauge // Make your own woodworking tools!

This nearly forgotten layout tool is a powerful addition to your hand tool shop.
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  1. David Carter on May 1, 2022 at 6:39 pm

    I don`t understand this. If you are marking an edge for certain the fish head guide has more surface contact ,but if you are marking the face the traditional one actually has nearly twice the surface contact and if you are further out from the edge your panel guage will work far better than the fish one because it`s wide stock is especially designed for the stability for the stability problems you discussed, for which the traditional gauge would also,as I mentioned, do a better job. I think the fish gauge is a special tool only for marking edges which is the only area that can possibly compete with the others. But even then only in one directional axis.

  2. LassetUnsSpielen on May 1, 2022 at 6:42 pm

    I almost forgot, I was watching a video on youtube. No tablesaw, no router, no drillpress, just amazing handtool based woodwork. Great to see the channel growing so fast.
    congrats to (almost) 1/4 mil subs

  3. David Bradshaw on May 1, 2022 at 6:43 pm

    The gauge with a radiused Fence is a wheelwrights gauge used mainly on the rim sections. You are close with carriages but they go back before then to cart and wheel barrow wheels.

  4. Adrien Renaux on May 1, 2022 at 6:43 pm

    A lot of the stuff you talk about could be totally applied to a panel gauge. Just make the fence a different shape!

  5. Joschmoyo on May 1, 2022 at 6:51 pm

    What you have there is a coopering gauge used by barrel makers. The copper sheet shim is a wear plate because wood to wood contact would cause the fence to wear out very quickly.
    Copper and Bronze make excellent low friction wearing plates. That’s why traditional English marking gauges usually have brass inserts in the fence face. End grain is very abrasive.
    Sometimes on really high quality ebony gauges the entire gauge block fence would be brass plated for maximum wear resistance.
    Cooper’s tend to make a lot of their own tools because they are so specialised. Coach builder’s also use large gauges but that one is for marking the relief of the edge of the barrel by running the fence around the inside.

  6. Jim Carter on May 1, 2022 at 6:52 pm

    Yes, looks like old time leather cutter. They have cutters instead of pins. Long handle to exert pressure to cut.

  7. willmek on May 1, 2022 at 6:53 pm

    I’m a journeyman sheet metal worker and we use gauges similar to this all the time on tin.

  8. David Forrest on May 1, 2022 at 6:53 pm

    Thanks. I had made a flush marking gauge from a chunk of scrap, a ground-off allen wrench, and a 1/4-20 thumbscrew that I wasn’t happy with, and when I saw your video, I rebuilt it along this design and am now very pleased with it.

    My marking bar is a 7/32 Allen Wrench, with most of the arm ground off, leaving only about 1/4" of tooth, sort of like a router. My handle is about the same, with a round hole for the allen wrench, some carving to allow the tooth to seat fully in the handle, but my locking wedge is only about 1/4+ x 3/8x 3". I used firewood cherry for both parts.

    A neat trick I learned for the tiny mortise was to drag a narrow strip of sandpaper between the top edge of the wedge and the top of the mortise to do fine adjustments. Each drag of the sandpaper between the

    Also, I found that if you tap the stuck locking wedge on something, it doesn’t fly or need the peg — The wedge is stopped dead by the table and the handle moves and unlocks.

    I’m planning on making a bigger gauge more like your design, since I’m so happy with how well my rebuild of my old hack works.

  9. Dale Wysinger on May 1, 2022 at 6:53 pm

    Gonna have to make one of those!

  10. الرسام on May 1, 2022 at 6:53 pm

    you have a big mouth ( You talk too much )

  11. EgaoKage on May 1, 2022 at 6:55 pm

    If you visit a _Cooper’s_ workshop, you’ll also see gauges very similar to that one. Not sure if they called them "fish-heads" or not.. 😛

  12. Wasabe Channel on May 1, 2022 at 6:56 pm

    Perhaps to mark on the underside?

  13. khawajadotd on May 1, 2022 at 6:57 pm

    So… what’s the advantage of the traditional gauge over this one? I’m having trouble seeing why I shouldn’t just make one of these as my only gauge

  14. Ben Chapple on May 1, 2022 at 6:58 pm

    That is NOT how you use a marking or cutting gauge. Wrap your fingers around the beam so that the knuckle of your index finger is up against the stock. Put your thumb behind the cutter and start at the far end and slowly rotate it into the work, then work backwards. Get some training and stop encouraging people to do bad work! DON’T put your thumb on the stock.

  15. Oki Watashi on May 1, 2022 at 7:01 pm

    Might be nice to make one with a convex shape on the fence for marking round curves too. Nice work Rex! Aah, ok I just got to it

  16. Edward Tagg on May 1, 2022 at 7:01 pm

    Your chisel bevels are waaaaaay too short. Longer bevels will give you a much better edge. I suggest you grind your bevels at least double your current length. Im a woodcarver from London after many family generations. Cheers

  17. Devin Mahoney on May 1, 2022 at 7:02 pm

    Shouldn’t the marking arm be able to be taken out, rotated 90 in any direction and put back in place so the reference length of the tool can be in contact with the necessary part of the work while the nail is pointing down into the work?

  18. newffee on May 1, 2022 at 7:03 pm

    Rex Great videos man! Love your home made tools. I been trying to figure out how to make a simple Gramil tool for cutting Guitar binding channels. Do you think you could figure that out and do a video?

  19. McEwen Hand Craft on May 1, 2022 at 7:05 pm

    It is almost identical to a Leather workers Leather draw Guage.

  20. Oki Watashi on May 1, 2022 at 7:05 pm

    We don’t like change, no we don’t!

  21. Banacek60 Chord on May 1, 2022 at 7:07 pm

    I think you find ‘English’ gauges clunky and awkward because you haven’t been taught properly; ‘Thumb behind the spur’ always. [I noticed from your bench video and got you again with what you call your ‘fancy adjustable pin marking gauge’ but is correctly called, simply a mortise gauge ] .The shaft is the main part to grip, with the stock just nestling in the palm. Same with this one, you should concentrate the main pressure around the business end. Have I explained that sufficiently?
    I have one in an old box somewhere, that’s like one corner of a stool, if you can picture it, in that there are two shafts, at right angles, for holding two different marks on the same job. If it turns up, I’ll post a picture.
    I don’t know why you say you can’t get a mortise chisel in a small mortise, it is what they’re made for.

  22. Rigor Mortis on May 1, 2022 at 7:07 pm

    whis i could get proper tools at my work.. im forced to cut my wood with a jigsaw.. nothing is straight any more after using that XD

  23. Wm Blake on May 1, 2022 at 7:09 pm

    Seems like if the vertical piece was straight and square then one side would be a marking guage while the other side would be an adjustable square. Wouldn’t be as pretty though.

  24. woowooNeedsFaith on May 1, 2022 at 7:10 pm

    Traditional does not mean you can’t touch your old chisel with sharpening tools. Your chisel at 5:50 and 7:24 is dangerously dull.

  25. Edward Tagg on May 1, 2022 at 7:10 pm

    The quality of the steel on that nail could be much improved, by hacksawing a sliver off a vintage car leafspring which is spring steel, and will hold an edge better.

  26. zapa1pnt on May 1, 2022 at 7:10 pm

    Rex, for marking deep into the face of a board, from the edge, could you not
    turn the beam 90*, to put more of the fence in contact with the edge, to make
    it even more stable?

  27. Börje Svensson on May 1, 2022 at 7:11 pm

    If the mortises overlap a litte bit more the wedge can have a stop that only alow the wedge to come out if you remove the wedge first.

  28. Edward Cooper on May 1, 2022 at 7:14 pm

    According to R A Salamanin his book Dictionary of Woodworking Tools this is a Grasshopper or Handrail gauge. The book has an illustration of a pencil version. He says it is used for riding over projections or marking in hollows or sinkings

  29. weeschwee on May 1, 2022 at 7:14 pm

    Could you just make the traditional gauge with a bigger fence?

  30. 738polarbear on May 1, 2022 at 7:15 pm

    Lee Valley sells Quercus hand tool magazine as well.

  31. Shanta Hsieh on May 1, 2022 at 7:15 pm

    Go to Woodglut if you want to know how to make it easier. This is a good solution for every woodworker.

  32. Alex Chavez on May 1, 2022 at 7:15 pm

    That’s pretty awesome 👌. I think it would be even more convenient if it had a ruler or registration lines on it so you could easily set the score line at a specific depth.

  33. Larry Postma on May 1, 2022 at 7:15 pm

    Rex your oldtimer “marking knife” brought back so many memories of my childhood. I had the same pattern knife as one of my first pocket knives. I loved it. I made countless cuts into countless objects it never failed to take a razor edge. So many cleaned fish birds and mammals man I miss that Lil knife. Thank you for a great video and awesome memory. Off to make a fish head marking gauge 🙂

  34. MrDaneBrammage on May 1, 2022 at 7:16 pm

    I wonder if the copper strip was original or if it was added later to compensate for wear.

  35. Donald Dalley on May 1, 2022 at 7:18 pm

    Um, I need to make a left-handed version.

  36. Doug Commons on May 1, 2022 at 7:19 pm

    Rex, I was watching an episode of the Woodwright’s Shop and Roy mentioned a book titled The Complete Woodworker by Bernard Edward Jones. In that book, on page 4, he shows a marking gauge that is very similar to the one in your video. It is a specialty marking gauge that has two beams. Check it out.

    The Complete Woodworker :

  37. Pokojowy Bamber on May 1, 2022 at 7:21 pm

    At 7:00 we all get that speciall feeling xd

  38. Iuri Chacham on May 1, 2022 at 7:21 pm

    Great tool, Krueger!

  39. Erwin on May 1, 2022 at 7:24 pm

    The way you hand saw,,,,, not good dude

  40. pleappleappleap on May 1, 2022 at 7:25 pm

    I’m toying with the idea of making this design with an X-Acto blade out of cherry.

  41. David Dube on May 1, 2022 at 7:28 pm

    Very good video Rex!!!

  42. Wolfman on May 1, 2022 at 7:28 pm


  43. M M on May 1, 2022 at 7:28 pm

    I really like it – the large fence makes a ton of sense to me. However, for marking lines that are far away from an edge, I like to use a combination square and a marking knife – I just don’t mind that it’s slow and you need both hands.

  44. Hashida Tackey on May 1, 2022 at 7:29 pm

    It looks like boba fett’s ship

  45. 738polarbear on May 1, 2022 at 7:30 pm

    Never seen that type before buddy . Bravo .

  46. anthony triolo on May 1, 2022 at 7:33 pm

    I have one that is similar to about 80yrs old.

  47. Meh. on May 1, 2022 at 7:33 pm

    "It also looks like I’ve made a little wooden robot. Awesome."

    I love your priorities.

  48. Thomas Beckett on May 1, 2022 at 7:35 pm

    I really enjoyed this, I often use draw gauges in leather crafts, for making belts.straps,laces.

  49. Kodei Brooks on May 1, 2022 at 7:36 pm

    My dad taught me some wood working with one of these that his dad owned. It was jarring going to school and using the English ones in wood tech.

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