Lee Valley Tools    Woodworking Newsletter
   Vol. 4, Issue 6
   July 2010
   Featured Patents

Star Tool Co. Marking Gauge

Star Tool Co. Marking Gauge

For some, the mention of Fibonacci may evoke a picture of a new gourmet pizza, a plate of exotic Mediterranean food or a high-powered racing vehicle. However, what Fibonacci is best known for is the number sequence that bears his name. It runs 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, et cetera, with each number the sum of the two preceding numbers. When these are plotted as increasing distances from the origin, they form a spiral. In nature an example of it is the nautilus shell.

What does this have to do with the tool shown below? Wessel Brodhead of Meadville, Pennsylvania, may have found that spiral his inspiration for the shape of the locking mechanism in his carpenter's gauge or maybe he simply had a personal revelation. Who knows?

Spiral-shaped locking mechanism   Close-up of brass fittings
Spiral-shaped locking mechanism   Close-up of brass fittings

On April 21, 1868, he applied for patent #76,884 for his invention. The patent description is extremely brief and, unlike other marking devices of the time, it did not use a wedge or screw in the gauge's adjustment. The mechanism, or lack thereof, is described as an elliptical or cam-shaped rod meshed with a corresponding hole in a headpiece. Simply twisting the two pieces together caused a firm and secure lock. And unlike most patents employing proprietary processes, Brodhead actually described his gauge's construction method in the patent papers.
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