How To Make a Ruler Marking Gauge

Make a simple ruler marking gauge every workshop should have. This is a jig so much needed for any precision woodwork. When setting up your workshop, this is a tool you will need. 

A ruler marking gauge, also known as a ruler stopper or marking guide, is a vital tool for any woodworking workshop. It was one of my initial projects in the workshop and has become indispensable for nearly all my projects since. This workshop tool is crucial for precise woodworking tasks. If you’re setting up a workshop, this is a tool you definitely shouldn’t overlook.

Creating a marking gauge is surprisingly straightforward. You can make it using basic tools available in your shop – there is no need for power tools. The best part? It’s quite affordable to make. Not only does it cost little to build, but it also becomes a valuable addition to your workshop, useful for numerous future projects. It’s an ideal project for those just starting in woodworking.

How to make a ruler marking gauge video

Watch the full video below if you want to see in detail how to build a simple marking gauge.

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Table of Contents

*Safety is your responsibility. Make sure you know what you’re doing and take all necessary safety precautions while woodworking and working with power tools. Safety comes first!

Ruler Marking Gauge Plans

Check out the ruler marking gauge plans below!

Wood marking gauge plans. Ruler marking gauge plans. DIY wood marking gauge plans.

What you'll need to build the Woodworking Marking Gauge

Ruler Marking Gauge:
Steel Ruler – any size
Plastic / Acrylic Sheet – 10 mm stripe
2x – Spruce Wood 38 x 80 mm
Butterfly / Wing Bolt – M4 –
Threaded Insert – for M4 bolt

Sanding Dado Jig:
2x -Spruce Wood 38 x 200 mm (guiding rails)
MDF  – 255 x 255 x 8 mm
Wood Screws –

Jigsaw –
One Hand Clamp –
Small Spring Clamps –
Wood Glue –
Epoxy –
Sandpaper Sheets – 
Double-Sided Tape –
Center Punch –

Check all the Tools I Use

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What is a ruler marking gauge?

A ruler marking gauge is one of the basic woodworking tools designed for accurate and consistent marking of measurements on wood and other materials. It typically consists of a ruler with a locking mechanism, often made from plastic or metal, allowing you to secure the desired measurement. A ruler marking gauge mainly serves as a guide for creating precise lines, marks, or notches on workpieces.

Using a ruler marking gauge is quite simple: choose the measurement you need on the ruler, lock it into place, and then glide the tool smoothly over the surface of the material. These gauges are particularly handy for tasks that require repetition, as they allow you to replicate measurements quickly and accurately.

Let's Start!

This is a project for woodworking beginners requiring very basic tools – no power tools needed, all the parts can be made by using hand tools only. The project is straightforward, the cuts are simple and you can build the ruler marking gauge in a day.

The ruler marking gauge consists of two pieces of spruce wood. While hardwoods such as oak or beech are also excellent choices, you have the flexibility to use any scrap wood you have in your workshop. The benefit of this is that when the wood wears out, it’s easy to create a replacement.

For the ruler’s locking mechanism, a slim piece of plastic is attached to the ruler and secured with a wing nut. This design guarantees that the ruler remains undamaged.

How to Make a Ruler Marking Gauge

Step 1. Cut two identical wood strips

I started by cutting 2 pieces of spruce wood (38 x 80 mm). Make sure the dimensions of both pieces are the same. This is important when using the sanding jig for cutting the dado afterward.

To cut the pieces I used a jigsaw in combination with a jigsaw guide but a hand saw or a circular saw would work as well.

Ruler Marking Gauge | AllFlavor Workshop

You should end up with 2 pieces of wood of the exact same height, length, and width.

Ruler Marking Gauge | AllFlavor Workshop

Step 2. Build a dado jig

NOTE:  I explored a method to accurately cut a dado in the marking gauge without resorting to power tools. My approach involved sanding a dado into a piece of wood using only sandpaper a ruler and a double-sided tape. The outcome was pleasantly surprising – the edges of the wood were sharp and crisp, and the depth of the dado was consistent throughout.

  1. Begin by cutting an MDF board to the dimensions of 255 x 255 x 8 mm, which will serve as the base. MDF is ideal for this purpose due to its smooth surface, making it perfect for sliding.
  2. Next, attach a wooden slat to the MDF using glue and wood screws. This piece of wood will act as a guide rail for the marking gauge, ensuring precision when you’re manually sanding the dado.

NOTE: If you’re considering using a router to cut a dado, check out this DIY Router Jig for exact-width dados and grooves.

Ruler Marking Gauge | AllFlavor Workshop

Measure the distance between the guiding rails by using the 2 previously cut wood pieces and attach the second wooden slat to the MDF desk.

Ruler Marking Gauge | AllFlavor Workshop

Now you have a simple sanding jig for dados and grooves.

Step 3. Cut a dado in the marking gauge

1. Sand a dado in the bottom piece

Mark the center between the guiding rails and highlight the outer edges of the ruler. This is variable depending on the width of the ruler you are using. 

While sanding, this will ensure that the dado will be made right in the center of the wood piece. 

Ruler Marking Gauge | AllFlavor Workshop

Attach a double-sided tape on the ruler from one side, stick a sandpaper sheet on it, and carefully cut off the sandpaper excess. I used 240-grit sandpaper. The higher the grit the sharper the dado will be.

NOTE: Use a double-sided woodworking tape. It has good adhesion and is easily removable afterward.

Ruler Marking Gauge | AllFlavor Workshop

Attach the double-sided tape on the other side of the ruler and tape it on the sanding jig as marked previously.

Ruler Marking Gauge | AllFlavor Workshop

Sand a dado in one of the wood pieces to finish the bottom piece of the marking gauge – keep sanding until you hit the right depth and the ruler is flush with the wood piece.

NOTE: Do not sand until you reach the MDF desk. In that case, the depth of the dado would be slightly greater than the height of the ruler. You need to take into account the height of the double-sided tape and the sandpaper. 

Ruler Marking Gauge | AllFlavor Workshop
Ruler Marking Gauge | AllFlavor Workshop

2. Sand a dado in the upper piece

Cut a plastic stripe (10 mm width), tape sandpaper on it, and tape it on the MDF desk again using double-sided tape. Follow the same steps as before.

Sand a dado in the upper piece (second piece) and make sure the plastic stripe and the wood piece are flush. 

Ruler Marking Gauge | AllFlavor Workshop
Ruler Marking Gauge - AllFlavor Workshop

Step 4. Insert a threaded insert

To set the ruler in the dado I am fixing it with a butterfly wingnut using a threaded insert.

Take the upper piece, turn it around, mark the center with a center punch, and drill a hole all the way through to fit in a threaded insert for an M4 butterfly bolt. Make sure the insert does not stick out on the bottom and is perfectly flush with the dado.

TIP: Read this article to see how to drill a straight hole in wood without a drill press.

Ruler Marking Gauge | AllFlavor Workshop
Ruler Marking Gauge | AllFlavor Workshop

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Step 5. Assemble all parts together

Add a bit of epoxy on one of the halves of the dado to fix the plastic stripe in place.

The other half needs to stay free so that it can be skewed/pushed away when the butterfly bolt presses on the plastic – thus fixing the ruler in position.

The butterfly bolt would fix the ruler in position on its own but I am adding an extra layer in between to prevent the ruler from getting scratched.

Ruler Marking Gauge | AllFlavor Workshop

Glue both pieces together.

Ruler Marking Gauge | AllFlavor Workshop

Use spring clamps to keep the pieces in place while the glue dries. You can also a bit of salt in the glue to prevent the wooden pieces from moving.

Ruler Marking Gauge | AllFlavor Workshop

You can optionally sand off the surfaces and edges and finish the marking gauge with wood oil. It will nicely enhance the natural appearance of the wood pieces.

And there you have it – a simple DIY marking gauge with no power tools 🙂

Ruler Marking Gauge | Ruler Marking Guide | AllFlavor Workshop
DIY Ruler marking guide

If you’re setting up a garage workshop from the ground up, creating a marking gauge should certainly be one of your initial woodworking projects. This simple jig is a must for every workshop.

I hope the information shared in this blog post inspired you and now you are ready to build a nice addition to your workshop. 😉

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Are you building a workshop? Lets take a look at one of the most necessary tools you will need. A ruler marking gauge. A great DIY Tool for the workshop. Simple project for woodworking beginners.

How To Make a Marking Gauge for Woodworking

Related projects:

Ruler Marking Guide FAQ

What is the purpose of a ruler marking guide?

A ruler marking guide, also known as a ruler gauge, is a woodworking tool used to mark a parallel line to a material reference edge using a ruler. Its use can be found mainly in woodworking and metalworking.

Do I need a marking gauge?

Definitely yes. A marking gauge is one of the basic tools in the workshop and one of the most important tools in woodworking for correct distance measurement and line marking.

How do you build a ruler marking guide at home?

Making a ruler marking guide at home is fairly easy. All materials are readily available in local hardware stores. No power tools are needed to build it, and the entire marking gauge can be completed with hand tools only.

What are the types of marking gauges?

Marking gauges come in various types, including mortise gauges, cutting gauges, and wheel gauges, each designed for specific woodworking tasks.

What are the five basic measuring tools in carpentry?

The five basic measuring tools in carpentry include tape measures, combination squares, framing squares, sliding bevels, and marking gauges, each serving crucial roles in achieving accurate and well-crafted woodworking projects.

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About the author, Lukas
About the author, Lukas

Meet the creator of AllFlavor Workshop! As a passionate DIYer and woodworking enthusiast, Lukas is always looking for ways to make things himself rather than buying them off the shelf. With a keen eye for design and a knack for working with wood, Lukas enjoys sharing his craft with others and helping them discover the joy of building. Whether you're an experienced woodworker or a novice looking to try your hand at a new hobby, you're sure to find plenty of inspiration and tips on AllFlavor Workshop.