Finding a fit

I park tools in buckets while working, keeping them together roughly categorised:
ie. plumbing, electrics, drill bits.
In a random collection stored against no particular eventuality
I find a mortise guage,
used for marking, scoring wood prepared for the essential joinery connection:
the mortise (a square hole) and tenon (a square peg) joint.
It has held things together- buildings, doors and windows, chairs and tables- since the Romans occupied Britain
(and arguably long before, since a similar joint is responsible for the long- standing structural viability
of Stonehenge).
Most guages have adjustable points allowing for the tenon thickness appropriate to the item being joined, while Lear’s ‘joint stool’ might use 1/4″, a tithe barn truss might be 2″, an internal door 3/8″, external 5/8″.
I sometimes buy old tools for constructing traditional timber frames -or so I tell myself.
Truth is –
a tool like this is a delight to handle. It is handmade for a purpose- and tightly made, engineered even – when I employ it I shadow the previous user, the maker.Image
This one has an oval sectioned shaft piercing a stock of the same profile, located by a delicate hardwood wedge.
It has metal pins set into the shaft – spaced one inch -1″- 25.5mm- apart.
No more, no less.
I was reflecting on a marriage I know: far from ideal- but the partners have made up their minds to it.
This guage could not be used for the joint stool, for doors (unless fitted to cathedrals), for chairs, most tables- it is too big, unadaptable: crude therefore.
It has been made for one size of tenon- window/door frames maybe –
but it was made as delicate, as economical, precise as could be
and still perform the task,
the one task it exists to do.


2 thoughts on “Finding a fit

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