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While not quite tool pr0n, Woodpeckers’ red anodized tools machined from aircraft-grade aluminum billet are still very drool-worthy. One of their latest products, their dovetail marking gauges, are no exception.

When making hand-cut dovetails, a marking gauge is handy for laying out consistent pins and tails. Not only does it help you get the correct angle, but it helps you precisely transfer the markings from the face grain to the end grain and vice versa.

The gauges come in three different ratios: 1:6, 1:7, and 1:8. Traditionally you’d use a 1:6 dovetail when joining hardwood and a 1:8 for joining softwood — the 1:7 ratio is a compromise between the two.

Each of the gauges will run you $22. As these are one-time run tools, you need to order them before Jan 17th, 2011. Once they’ve compiled all the orders, Woodpeckers will manufacture them and ship them sometime around the middle of February.

It’s also interesting to note that, by popular demand, Woodpeckers has brought some of their other one-time run tools out of retirement. This includes their small T-squares and their 90º and 45º saddle squares. If you want to get your hands on theses tools, you need to order them before Jan 3rd, 2011.

Dovetail Marking Gauges [Woodpeckers]
One Time Run Tools [Woodpeckers]

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5 Responses to Woodpeckers’ Dovetail Marking Gauges

  1. Bill says:

    I’m going to continue using my bevel square to mark dovetails. If you’re hand-cutting dovetails, I’m not thinking that it’s a few extra minutes of layout time that’s making or breaking profitability.

    This idea of retiring tools and bringing them out of retirement is silly, and smacks of Disney. Perceived scarcity may be a marketing tool, but I’ll avoid spending my dollars with those that employ it.

    I do hope that those who purchase these tools value them and put them to good use.

  2. @Bill:

    I’m not a fan of one-time run tools either, but I don’t think it’s fair to compare them to Disney (or Case knives as Sean has pointed out).

    From Woodpeckers website:

    The Dovetail Marking Gauges are One-Time Tools. That means we take pre-orders and make them on when we have open machine time. They are not stocked and the ordering window is limited.

    Disney does it purely to make their products scarce and keep them high priced. For instance they could sell Beauty and the Beast every year, but they wouldn’t be able to charge as much — believe me my daughter has been clamoring for the movie for years. Woodpeckers is a small manufacturer and they’d probably lose money stocking these specialty products, so they have to build up enough demand to justify a run.

    Another company that does this is Bridge City Tool Works.

  3. John Doe says:

    I’ve made nearly identical equivalents of these out of plexiglass. (Use the correct glue for plexi.)

    Easy to do, rugged enough, and certainly not $22 each.

    Part of the art of woodworking is building jigs to suit the task at hand.

  4. Rick says:

    Woodpeckers makes good stuff but it is always priced well above the market. I would much rather own TWO gauges for just a hair more than the price of one. That’s what you would get if you go with Lee Valley’s dovetail markers.


    They are $13.50 each or you can get the 1:6 and 1:8 together for $24.50.

    You can get some even cheaper dovetail markers for $11.50:

    BTW, Lee Valley has free shipping right now….

  5. Jim Gallagher says:

    I like the plexiglass idea but I would probably spend a day (maybe more) making it. It would be light and sturdy. Plus, being able to see through the marker might be an advantage.
    The ratios versus the type of wood seems to be reversed in the write-up above. However, I don’t have the experience to ascertain just how critical those angles are to dovetail joinery. They make different angles so I assume someone has determined the importance. Experienced woodworkers seem to just “eyeball” it.

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