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Thread: Sharpening Mortise Gauge Pins

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2019
    Bay Area, CA

    Sharpening Mortise Gauge Pins

    Hi all! Neanderthal newbie here, but I hope to be active in the forum in the future as questions and projects happen for me.

    Anyway, long story short, I inherited an old Stanley rosewood and brass mortise marking gauge, and although it has seen better days, the fence, adjustment screw, and locking mechanism all work quite well. This tool has a good weight to it and seems very well-made. I am gearing up to start a (mostly) hand-built workbench, and I would rather put this marking gauge to use than buy a new one from Lee Valley. The only issue I have is with the marking pins. They are both pretty dull, and one of them has a bent tip.

    I was thinking I could touch them up with a small file, and correct the bend with a few light taps from a hammer. But is there a better way? Should I back the pins out, fix them up, and then hammer them back in? I could imagine honing a new point on these pins in about five seconds with a belt sander, but I am working with very few power tools in my arsenal.

    Thanks in advance for your help!

  2. #2
    I can't help with your question, Patrick. But I wanted to say Welcome to the Creek! Glad you've joined us and looking forward to pictures of your bench build.

    Take care,
    "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."
    - Sir Edmund Burke

  3. #3
    I have a Stanley 77 gauge that I have used for around forty years. I sharpen the pins with a small file like a #2 Swiss file. One problem I had was that even with the pins as close as possible, they were just a little too far apart for my 1/4 mortise chisel. So for a long time I used a homemade gauge just for 1/4 inch. Then I realized I could close the gap between the pins with judicious sharpening (sharpening on the outside of each pin).

    I would use a small pair of pliers rather than a hammer to straighten the pins.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Longview WA
    Blog Entries
    Howdy Patrick and welcome to the Creek.

    Sometimes it is easy to replace the pins. Depending on what fits mine have been replaced with anything from a sawed off nail to a piece of broken drill bit.

    If the pins are not hardened, a file should work fine to sharpen them. If they are hard you may need to use an oilstone.

    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Patrick; you may find the following information of interest;
    Last edited by Stewie Simpson; 02-20-2019 at 1:43 AM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2019
    Bay Area, CA
    Thank you for the warm welcome, fellas, and your responses. Looks like I have enough to go on for now. I'm going to give sharpening these pins a try; I will perhaps post a photo of the finished product. Thanks again!

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