Shop Made Tools

Craftsmen in the 18th and 19th centuries made many of their own tools. This is especially true of the more rural shops, located further from the major cities. Shops located in more rural areas would not have had easy access to tool merchants and may have only made trips to the city once every few months. So when they needed something, they often made it. Today, making tools is a great way to build basic skills and use up small offcuts that might otherwise end up in the fireplace. Pictured below are just a few of the tools I've made myself.

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French Marking Gauges

I've made a lot of marking gauges in this style over the years. Some single pin marking gauges; some multi-pin mortise gauges; some with a wedge made from a dowel; some with a more elaborate captured wedge. They are really fun and easy to make from random offcuts in the scrap bin, and the design is really intuitive. The main benefit of these gauges is that they can be unlocked, adjusted, and locked all with one hand. There are no knobs to turn and no unnecessary gingerbread features to complicate what is, in essence, a very simple but irreplaceable tool. I have several of these on the bench every time I'm in the shop. I showed how to make these gauges in Episode #29 of the podcast.

French Marking Gauge French Marking Gauge French Marking Gauge French Marking Gauge French Marking Gauge

Japanese Cutting Gauge

This is another style of marking gauge that is based upon examples of Japanese gauges I've seen. Instead of using a pin for marking, this gauge uses a knife. There are similar examples of English and French gauges that use knives as well, but the knife in English and French cutting gauges is typically held in place in the beam with a small brass wedge. This gauge is made from ash, locks with a captured wedge and uses a laminated and tapered 3/8" blade to mark a very fine line. The tapered shape of the blade eliminates the need for a wedge, similar to Japanese style hand planes.

Japanese Marking Gauge Japanese Marking Gauge Japanese Marking Gauge Japanese Marking Gauge

Squares & Bevels

Try squares are another fun tool to make from random offcuts. Just choose something relatively straight grained and stable and you can make squares in all different sizes to suit your needs. These squares can be made every bit as accurate as a premium machinist's square. They are also very easy to adjust when the wood moves and they go slightly out of square, which really isn't as often as you might think. Plus, they look so much cooler and feel so much warmer in the hand than a lifeless steel square. They don't scratch up your work like a steel square can either.

Square & Gauge Walnut Try Squares Cherry Miter Square

Hand Saws

Making hand saws from blank plates of steel may seem like an impossible task at first glance. However, you can make these tools in the home shop, and they really require very little in the way of specialized tooling. You need a way to cut the steel (a cutoff wheel in a Dremel works well), some files, a saw set, and your typical woodworking tools to make the handles. If you have some patience and don't mind some hard work and maybe a couple of blisters, you can make hand saws too. It will certainly make you appreciate the work that goes into a premium saw.

Dovetail Saws Brass & Cherry Tenon Saw Steel & Walnut Back Saws Panel Saw Rip Saw
Dovetail Saws Brass & Cherry Tenon Saw Steel & Walnut Back Saws Panel Saw Rip Saw

Other Tools

More tools that I've made from scraps over the years. As you can see, tool making can be an addictive past time in and of itself. However, there's no greater satisfaction for me than making a beautiful piece of furniture using tools that I've made myself. In addition, hand made tools make great gifts for fellow woodworkers.

Joiner's Mallet Spokeshave Purpleheart Smoother Striking Knife Plane Adjusting Hammer