Tool Review #002 - Veritas Wheel Marking Gauges

Posted by Tobias Lochner on

Please note that any woodworking tool or range of products that I review is an entirely honest appraisal based on the following criteria:

  • I have purchased the items at normal price.
  • I have used the items for a minimum of 6 months in my own workshop.
  • I have not been paid or coerced in any way to give favourable reviews.

Based in Swellendam in the Western Cape, I build period style furniture, using both hand tools and machines.

I also teach hand tool skills from time to time, write blogs & articles and prefer shavings to sawdust!

Off the bat, let me say that I have purchased numerous Veritas tools over the years, some direct from Lee Valley, some locally and have been extremely happy with all of them.

Tool Review #002: Veritas Tools Wheel Marking Gauges

Veritas Tools is the manufacturing arm of Lee Valley in Canada and has garnered a world renowned reputation over nearly 40 years for designing and manufacturing superb woodworking tools.

The Veritas Wheel Marking Gauges are no exception.

This style of tool is not a pure marking gauge, but is a rather clever combination of a cutting gauge and a marking gauge. The operating principle of these tools is to utilise a tiny round hardened steel blade screwed tightly onto the end of a hardened round shaft. The blade is bevelled on one side only and is reversible.

Sliding along the shaft is a brass head with a locking thumbscrew. This allows you to set the head at any specific distance within the capabilities of the gauge, for scribing a line on your workpiece.

The older traditional pin type marking gauges have many faults: During scribing with the grain, the pin tends to follow the grain line and by nature of the design of the pin, the scribe line has a small bevel on BOTH sides. This is a real pain in the butt when you are requiring absolutely crisp and clean scribe lines from which to work. When scribing across the grain, the problems of this type of gauge are exacerbated, because the pin has to tear through the fibres of the wood and one never achieves a proper, crisp scribe line.

Unlike these traditional marking gauges which utilise a sharpened pin to do the scribing, the tiny “wheel blade” cuts a very clean scribe line in the timber. The wheel style blade does not follow the grain during scribing with the grain and is excellent at scribing across the grain as it cleanly slices the fibres of the wood, as opposed to tearing them.

The results are clean, consistent and crisp scribe lines both across the grain and with the grain.

Veritas are not the only manufacturer of this style of marking gauge, there are a number of companies making them.

This type of marking gauge can be used for much more than simply scribing cut lines. Due to the wheel blade being able to retract entirely into the head of the tool, the gauge can be used as an accurate depth gauge for router cutter heights, dado depth and mortise depth setting with ease.

My general reasons for choosing Veritas Wheel Marking Gauges:

  • The Veritas brand has an excellent reputation for quality
  • The gauges are well made and exceptionally well finished off.
  • They combination of brass and polished steel appeals to my sense of aesthetics.
  • The wheel blades are replaceable and locally available.
  • The shaft lengths are well within my required parameters.
  • The internal “O” ring holds the gauge head in place on the shaft during adjustment.
  • The thumbscrew is knurled and easy to use.
  • The blade retracts into the head allowing me to stand the tool upright for storage and to use it for accurate depth setting applications as well.
  • There are three models of marking gauge in the Veritas range:
    • Original Gauge brought to market some 15 years ago. This model does not have any fine adjustment capability.
    • The Micro-Adjust model.
    • The Dual Bar model which is great for doing any double scribe line marking, such as laying out mortises and dual lines for stringing inlay.

I own all three of these models. My basic model has served me very well for over 12 years, I looked into importing the Glen Drake Tite-Mark gauge because it had a micro adjusting feature, but it was just too pricey. Around the time that I was able to add a gauge with micro adjustment to my arsenal, Veritas brought their model out. The Veritas micro adjustable model has been in my tool chest for a little over four years and is the most utilised of the three.

I have owned the Veritas dual shaft model for about 7 months and I am extremely happy with it's performance. I make a lot of hand cut laps joints, mortise & tenon joints  and dovetail joints, and this model performs to expectation.

The big change between the original Veritas model and the Micro-Adjustable model is in the fine tuning capability. What appears to be extra shaft length on the micro-adjustable model is actually taken up by the fine tuning mechanism, so the gauge remains the same overall length as the original model.

With the Veritas dual shaft model, there is no micro-adjusting feature, but the shafts have now been offset in the brass head creating more available bearing surface for the head, which doesn't sound like much, but really does make a big difference to comfort and accuracy.

The two thumbwheels on the dual gauge are a little larger that the other two models, and in my opinion are easier to use.

For woodworkers wanting decent marking gauges for laying out joints, first prize would be a micro-adjustable single shaft model as well as a dual shaft model, even though the latter does not feature micro-adjustability.

In my opinion, these marking gauges should be permanent members of any woodworker's toolchest.

Summary:

  • Long Term Usage: 12 years, 4 years & 7 months respectively
  • Build Quality: Excellent
  • Price: Premium product at a reasonable price
  • Adjustability: YES
  • Would I add more Veritas marking & layout tools to my workshop going forward?: YES
  • Would I recommend these Veritas products to fellow woodworkers?: YES
  • Backup, Service & Spares availability: YES (www.toolcraft.co.za)
I have nothing negative to say about the newer Veritas Micro Adjusting Wheel Gauge and the Dual Wheel Gauge and I fully recommend them both. They are built to withstand abuse, are accurate and will last a lifetime.

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