Lee Valley Tools Woodworking Newsletter
Vol. 2, Issue 1
September 2007
 
Featured Patents
 

Blaisdell Marking Gauge

Using a gauge as a fixed measuring device is something that almost all woodworkers need to do. Someone will cut a piece of wood to a specific size, just to scribe repetitive measurements onto the workpiece. Homemade examples sometimes exhibit a greater variety of patterns and construction styles than commercially made marking gauges.

A. H. Blaisdell of Massachusetts patented (#79,052) this carpenter's marking gauge on June 23, 1868. Previous patents on tools of this sort had not addressed the scribing of lines accurately and consistently on convex and concave surfaces. Blaisdell sought to alleviate this situation by having moveable arms on his marking gauge. These arms contacted the edge of the workpiece at some distance from the marking point, but still allowed for accurate scribing. The main goal in producing this complicated marking gauge is clearly described in the patent. It was intended for "drawing marks parallel to the straight or curved edge of a board or article". The moveable arms were articulated and had the ability to follow irregular surfaces and bear on the edge with more than a single contact point. There was also a locking thumbscrew that maintained a repeatable radius for production work.


Blaisdell marking gauge.


The Blaisdell gauge came in two sizes, the smaller being the more rare of the two. The tool shown here is the larger variety. Both sizes were constructed using brass and rosewood. When clean and with good patina, this combination gives a most pleasing appearance and makes the marking gauge a highly desirable piece for tool collectors. The patent information is always found on one of the brass thumbscrews. The unusual configuration of the moveable arms and fingers, and the resulting actions when used as intended, are quite fascinating.

D.S. Orr

 
 

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