Review By Dean Bielanowski  Chris Vesper Website -

Chris Vesper's Marking Gauge

By Dean Bielanowski

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Chris Vesper is a quality hand tool maker based in Melbourne, Australia. We have already reviewed his unique joinery knife on this website, and it proved to be a hand tool of the highest quality and finish, not to mention function too! Today we are looking at his Marking Gauge, and it too has many unique features.

Chris Vesper Marking Gauge
A marking gauge is a very handy tool to make accurate marks on timber parallel to an edge. They are the perfect tool for marking things like mortises, or marking the edge of cuts where repetition or parallelism is required.

The gauge we reviewed was made from Tasmanian Blackwood, and the figure is simply stunning (see photos), but the gauges are also available in either Sheoak or Beefwood, and for additional cost, in Black Red Gum or Lace Sheoak, so for the hand tool collectors, or those who like to choose how the tool "looks", you have a choice of preferred timbers to choose from. But no matter which species of material you select, the material used will be of the highest quality and figure available. Chris doesn't skimp on materials when it comes to his hand tool business. Only the finest materials are used.

Now, the first and major feature you will notice on these marking gauges is the unusual head design. Most marking gauges in the past, and indeed in the present, feature either a square, rectangular, or rectangular oval shaped head. Chris Vesper's gauge moves away from tradition with his gauge head design, which is larger and shaped for comfort. It has somewhat of a pear-shaped top with indents below the apex of the head that comfortably houses your thumb and forefinger to grip the gauge head. The thicker head also allows a solid grasp which is necessary for both smooth and accurate marking. The symmetrical design means the gauge can be used equally effectively for both left and right handed users.

The brass locking knob engages brass plugs to prevent wear in the threads, and this pushes against a captive brass pressure plate which clamps against the gauge's bar so it offers clamping of the head to the bar without marking or damaging the bar, as the force is spread over a wider surface area. The head locks to the bar at three different points which provides a very secure hold that resists twisting or wobbling of the bar in use.

The imbedded brass face on the head measures 90mm in length and provides a flat, straight surface for accurate reference against a board edge or face.

The bar itself measures around 250mm in length and houses the steel cutter. The cutter itself is shaped/ground from tool steel and allows the finest marking edge both with and across the grain of timber without any wandering. The cutter can be adjusted for angle, depth or replaced entirely by accessing the screw at the end of the bar. The user can mark sizes from zero (thanks to a recess milled in the gauge head which houses the body of the steel cutter) up to roughly 200mm, so there is plenty of capacity to handle just about all your marking needs, unless you are making furniture for the incredible hulk or jack's beanstalk giant from massively thick material!

In Use
When you first grasp the tool, you pretty much instantly assume a good grip because of the head design. The head shape also allows marking equally effectively by pushing or pulling the tool over the wood surface. The adjustment knob is large and easy to manipulate and you can make small distance adjustments and secure the gauge head again easily with just one hand. As mentioned above, there was virtually no noticeable wander of the marking line/cutter when marking both across or with the grain, on both hardwoods and softwoods. The tool really seems to instil confidence, and its size and design almost relieves those fears that your hand will slip from the tool and give you a nasty gash, as can be realized when using some wheel marking type tools. The gauge can also be used without having to angle the head in most cases, and exhibits virtually no chattering when referenced against a clean board edge or face.

Marking a parallel line in softwood

Marking for a mortise in hard Jarrah

A set of markings shows nice straight lines. The waviness of the
lines you might see is a result of the camera lens shape/curve.

It really is a nicely crafted marking tool. It has now replaced my wheel marking gauge as my preferred tool of choice for parallel marking tasks, plus it certainly looks a LOT better too! Like Chris's joinery knife, this too is a great tool and performs the functions it is designed to do very well. It retails for AUD$198.
Well done Chris! 

Available to Order through these Companies...
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In Australia

Direct from Chris Vesper



Marking Gauge Photos
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The marking gauge components

Flat brass face

Steel cutter and locking screw adjuster

Large knurled brass knob to secure bar to gauge head

Note the recess in the head that houses the steel cutter, allowing distances down to zero to be marked

The assembled gauge

How I hold the gauge, which is probably the standard grip, and the most comfortable!

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