Tool Review #003 - Veritas Bar Gauge Head Kit

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.

Tool Review #003: Veritas Bar Gauge Heads:

It goes without saying that squareness of a project assembly is critical to us as woodworkers. As soon as we assemble anything with four sides, we need to make 100% sure that the construction is square in relation to itself. It doesn't matter whether the assembly is rectangular or all of the sides are the same length, we need the corners to be at 90º to each other. 

It is also irrelevant whether the side join each other with dovetails, rebates, mitres or simple butt joints that are screwed or pinned together, any two boards within the assembly need to meet at 90º. 

This is of critical importance. Whether you are building many assemblies from melamine for a kitchen installation, or are are building your own Cuban Mahogany masterpiece of heirloom furniture, the principle remains the same every time.

There are two ways to check whether your assembly is 100% square. Either go the mathematical route using Pythagorean theory or simple use a bar gauge. 

I opt for the bar gauge method every time (I am bad at maths!) and during a glue-up, time is of the essence as the adhesive is starting to dry. 

In the days of yore, bar gauges were called "Pinch Rods".

Veritas Tools have had their version of the Pinch Rod on the market for about a quarter of a century and I purchased my first set directly from Lee Valley in Canada somewhere around 1998. 

In the box you get a pair of ABS heads, one of which has a locking brass thumbscrew. You also get a pair of tiny brass threaded pins and two brass machine screws to attach the heads to your wooden shafts.

All you need to do is to make the two wooden parts. Any decent, stable scrap stock lying around your workshop will do. For my first two bar gauge sets, I used some Kamassi (Box Wood) and for the third set, I employed some Hard Maple offcuts.

The reason for me making up three sets of bar gauges, is that because each set will have a maximum length capability, I basically have short, medium and long versions in my arsenal.

These entirely sensible tools work hard, save me endless frustration and perform exactly as the manufacturer intended.

The earlier version simply had the two heads. in the recently updated version, Veritas have cleverly added a pair of stubby brass pins to the set, which enables you to measure outside the assembly and measure with the gauge lying on the assembly as an alternative to inserting in within the assembly.

Overall, Veritas Bar Gauge Head Kits are extremely simple, easy to make (about 20 minutes) tools, which will save you over and over again.

 

My general reasons for choosing Veritas Bar Gauge Head Kits:

  • Very affordable, so I can validate having mutliple sets of different lengths.
  • Quick and very easy to build.
  • Strong & well made, accurate and reliable.
  • Achieve their intended purpose whenever I need them.

Summary:

  • Long Term Usage: Two at 22 years, one at 3 years.
  • Build Quality: Excellent
  • Price: Premium product at a very 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 Veritas Tools Bar Gauge Kits other than I wish that they had added the Brass Pins on the earlier model and I fully recommend them. They are built to withstand abuse, are accurate and will last a lifetime. I do suggest that you invest in at least three sets and make up different length versions.  


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