Making A Metal Dovetail Marking Gauge

Topics Covered
1. Annoying
2. A Wood Prototype
3. Building the Metal Marking Gauge
4. Final Thoughts
5. Request

In an earlier post, I went over making a wooden dovetail marking gauge. That’s it in the photo below.


Now the issue that I found annoying was the fact that it was only good for marking the angled lines on pin and tail boards. To mark what I refer to as the straight lines, I have to switch to my 6” combination square. The angled and straight lines I am referring to are shown and labeled in the following two Photos.

The following photo labels the angled and straight lines on a pin board.


In the following photo, the angled and straight lines on a tail board are labeled.


Having to switch from my wooden dovetail marking gauge to my 6” combination square to mark my dovetails, I have come to find annoying. Plus it’s prone to alignment errors between the lines (On the adjacent faces).

Wood Prototype
To test my idea for a better dovetail marking gauge, I first built a wood prototype. The wood prototype worked. It could mark both the dovetail angled and straight lines, for both the pin and tail boards. Perfect, just what I wanted.

The wood prototype was fine for testing my idea, and works if using a pencil. But, I wanted a marking gauge that I could use with a metal marking knife.

Making the Metal Marking Gauge
The following explains how I went about making a 14* metal dovetail marking gauge.

Step 1 — For starters, I went to Home Depot and bought an aluminum angle. The aluminum angle was 36” long and dimensions were 1-1/2” x 1-1/2” x 1/8”. Cost for the aluminum angle was approximately $15.

Step 2 — I changed the blade on my chop saw to a 10” dia. metal cut-off blade. That’s it in the photo below.


Step 3 — Set your chop saw cut angle to 14*, as shown in the following photo.


Step 4 — The following photo shows the setup for making the first 14* angled cut on the aluminum angle.


Notes Regarding the Above Photo
1) The wood member shown is a 2x member. The dimensions of the 2x wood member shown are 17-3/4” x 2” x 1-1/2”. This wood members’ role in life is to securely hold the aluminum angle stationary, while being cut.

2) The metal angle cut-off on the right side is scrap. I know it might look like the finished product, but the other angled side is 12* (I made a 12* dovetail marking gauge earlier).

3) Obviously you should wear goggles while cutting the aluminum angle. Plus, you need to provide ventilation that is able to remove the smoke generated while cutting thru the wood with a metal cut-off blade. I used a box fan to remove the smoke, which worked nicely.

4) I liked using the clamp shown to hold the aluminum angle stationary. Warning — the aluminum angle will get hot during the cutting process.

Step 5 — I wanted the width of my dovetail marker to be approx. 1-3/4” as shown in the photo below. The penciled line shown was drawn using my 14* dovetail marker (wood prototype).


Step 6 — The photo below shows the aluminum angle being setup for the 2nd 14* cut on the chop saw. Cut the aluminum angle along the pencil line mark on the aluminum angle. And now, you have your own custom made dovetail marker.


Step 7 — The finished dovetail marker is shown in the following photo. It’s the cut-off aluminum angle on the right side in the photo.


Step 8 — The Photo below shows the dovetail marker after being cut by the chop saw. As you can see, the dovetail marker is burred where cut by the chop saw.


To remove the burrs, I used a fine file, Gerber pocket knife (For the corners), and 240 & 360 grit sandpaper.

I used the file to remove the bulk of the burrs. Next I used the 240 & 360 grit sandpaper to fine-tune all cut edges. However, I didn’t use a file in the corners. I didn’t want to risk rounding the inside corners.

For the corners, I used my Gerber knife to whittle away the burrs. I know, I know. That’s no way to treat a knife blade. But it’s a razor blade and can be easily replaced with a new razor blade.

The file, Gerber knife, 240 & 360 grit sandpaper (and sanding block), and the dovetail marking gauge are shown in the photo below.


To hopefully clarify how I went about removing the burrs, click on the YouTube movie link shown below.

▶ Dovetail Marker Burr Removal – YouTube

Step 9 — The following two photos show my new dovetail marking gauge used to mark a pin and also a tail.

First photo below shows the dovetail marking gauge being used to mark a tail on a tail board.


This next photo shows the dovetail marking gauge being used to mark a pin on a pin board.


Final Thoughts
Building the dovetail marking gauge went smoothly. I like the way it turned out. And, the beauty of making your own is that you can make it for any angle you want.

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Until Next Time, Take Care