Multi-Gauge maximizes machine accuracy
As far as machine-setting jigs go, Oneway's Multi-Gauge isn’t new, but its problem-solving promises still turn heads. Somehow, this simple castiron corner can maximize the accuracy of your shop’s stationary tools not only by checking and adjusting your jointer’s tables, knives, and fence, but also by helping replicate table saw and router table setups and checking stock thickness and joinery.
To determine if the MultiGauge is more workshop Swiss Army knife or just some one-trick pony, I agreed to bring one into my shop to find out.
The gauge is a substantial 31 /4 lbs. of cast iron that, like most rust-prone tools, comes slathered in grease. You’ll want to clean it and give it a protective coat of wax before putting it to use.
The body has three reference surfaces ground at 90° to each other, so the casting itself serves as a precision gauge to check adjacent surfaces for square. There’s also a hole drilled through the casting at 90° to the base so you can attach the dial indicator (included) to expand the gauge’s versatility. The indicator has an interchangeable round and flat foot to match the measuring task. The 2"-diameter dial is graduated in .001 increments and has a 11 /32" travel range.
Despite, or perhaps because of, its simple design, the gauge performs an impressive array of tasks. The most basic function— essential for table saw and jointer fences—is checking adjacent surfaces for square shown at right. Insert the dial indicator to set the height of your jointer knives and to check the infeed and outfeed tables for parallel.
At the thickness planer, you’ll use the indicator upside down to ensure an identical setting and parallelism of the blades. Reposition it right side up, and you can set the roller heights.
Once my tools were set, I found myself reaching for the gauge to measure the height of bits and blades, as shown on page 70. You can also measure the thickness of lumber and sheet goods and confirm the depth of grooves, rabbets, and dadoes.
The Multi-Gauge really excels at jointer tune-up. It enabled me to measure the height of the knives and check the parallelism of the infeed and outfeed table. This helped me find a problem that had gone undetected until this test.
The exact-height function is also useful for duplicating setups at the router table, such as cope-and-stick door-making bits.
The Multi-Gauge earned its keep at the jointer, but the quantifiable accuracy it provided my other machinery makes it a smart buy. Woodcraft #126979 $94.99 Tester: Robert J. Settich
More than a dowelling jig
Every woodworker lucky enough to remember high school shop class has wrapped his or her hands around a dowelling jig. These power drill partners worked well enough for a dowel or two, but minor inaccuracies stemming from jig placement or the jig itself would multiply with each successive hole, making assemblies impossible to pull together. Struggle with a few multi-dowel glue-ups, and it’s little wonder that fudge-factor-friendly biscuits and loose tenons have gained such popularity
The Dowelmax costs more than other jigs, but it promises not only that it can produce perfect joints and but also that the resulting joints are stronger than those produced by other popular (and more expensive) joinery systems.
I assumed that all I needed to do was open the box, grab a drill, and put the tool to work. The Dowelmax does come ready to center 3 /8"-diameter holes across the width of 3 /4" stock, but the collection of spacers, brackets, gauges, and pins indicated that this was less “jig” and more “joinery system.” Luckily, the kit comes with a manual and an instructional DVD. To avoid information overload, I suggest skimming the book and making a few test joints before watching the DVD.
The Dowelmax didn’t miss any details. Starting from the carefully-machined jig core unit, all of the parts attach using comfortable, knurled brass knobs. The only time you’ll need to use the included Allen wrench is when setting the drill stop and distance gauge.
I used this jig to make every kind of butt joint I could think of (edge-to-edge, edge-to-end, miters, offset).
I wasn’t surprised that the joints fit perfectly, but was impressed by how fast and easy the jig was to use, especially with multi-dowel joints. The five hardened-steel bushings enabled me to drill a row of holes without repositioning the jig. The other winning detail is the P engraved into the fence and core of the jig. Simply make corresponding checks on the reference faces of your stock and match up the marks to position the jig.
In terms of strength, I support common sense over small-sample scientific tests. Strong glue joints are dependent upon just a few basic factors: surface area for glue (minus the sloppiness of the joint), the amount of wood removed, and the strength of the fastener. It’s easy to appreciate that dowel joints are stronger than biscuit or stub-tenon joints. For more demanding joints, I'll bet that two or more rows of dowels would be as strong as a loose or traditional tenon.
Face frames, drawers, cabinet and interior/exterior doors...you name it.
They say, “you get what you pay for,” and the Dowelmax is no exception. Compare it to other loose-tenon systems and the price falls right in the ballpark. But without a motor, there’s little doubt that this tool will outlive me.
I’ll keep my biscuit joiner for quick joinery, but I no longer feel the need for some other plug-and-plunge tool. I’m convinced that dowels can serve as a suitable solution for substantial joinery. Woodcraft #412425 $309.99 Tester: Joe HurstWajszczuk