They are essential hand tools, practically indispensable for laying out mortises and tenons.
For years I’ve used a Sheffield-made rosewood mortise and marking gauge (double pins on one side, single pin on the other). That is until recently. Over the past several months I have been using the Tite-Mark extensively, and I am extremely pleased with its performance.
Made entirely of brass and steel, the Tite-Mark is both solid and well-balanced. At 7 ¼” long and with a 1 ⅝” wide round fence, it fits neatly into an apron or back pocket. A 9”-model, the Tite-Mark Long, is also available. With the blade fully retracted into the head of the fence, you can stand the Tite-Mark on your workbench for easy access. Left on its side, the thumbscrews will keep the gauge from rolling around on your workbench. The rod is made of stainless steel. A “V” slot runs the length of the rod, and keeps the fence and tail from moving during adjustment and provides a secure purchase for the locking thumbscrews. As a nice touch the “V” slot stops short of the end of the rod to keep the fence from sliding off.
The “business end” of the gauge is made of brass. It consists of the fence head (with a stainless steel thumbscrew to lock it in place), a knurled “micro adjuster” (which allows you to move the fence head forward or backward very precisely) and a tail end (with a steel thumbscrew to lock the fence securely on the rod). There is a small nylon set screw under the fence head that allows you to regulate the resistance level in moving the head and micro adjuster.
The micro adjuster is what really separates this gauge from others on the market. I found that I could easily make fine adjustments with one hand. Even though you don’t have to exert much pressure when setting the thumbscrews, once set, the fence head won’t loosen. While most marking gauges use pins that scratch a line across stock, the Tite-Mark has a circular cutting blade that scores a clean cut across (or with) the grain, without any tear out. The blade is beveled on the inside, and doesn’t turn as it cuts.
This helps to force the fence head up against your stock, resulting in smooth cuts without you having to force down on the gauge. It’s worked extremely well for me on a range of hard and soft woods. The replaceable blade is hardened to Rc 60, and can be rotated to expose a fresh cutting surface. Even with heavy use the blade should last for years. Two optional 5/8” diameter blades are available, a scoring blade for making deep cuts or slicing veneers, and a mortise blade, which floats on the rod until secured in the slot with a set screw. You can mount multiple mortise blades on the rod, as well as use them in combination with a scoring blade to lay out mortise and tenons.
At $89 US for the 7” gauge or $99 US for the 9” model, the Tite-Mark is an exceptional tool, one that you can purchase with the confidence. It will give you consistent excellent performance, be enjoyable to use and display, and last a lifetime. The marking blade is $9 US, scoring blade is $12 US, and a mortise blade starts at $20 US. 707-961-1569 or www.glen-drake.com
Carl Duguay - [email protected]
Carl is a Victoria-based furniture maker and the web editor at Canadian Woodworking & Home Improvement.