Thirlwell Gauge Set
Words and photos: Raf Nathan
Made in Australia, this combination wood tool is quite exciting with its looks and multi-functionality. It begins as a wheel marking gauge with a large cutter that can extend up to 165mm on the 8mm steel shaft.
The 50mm round head is a beautiful combination of brass and blackwood formed to a crisp flowing thumb-rest. I particularly liked the face detail with the circular wood and brass. The head locks to the shaft with a knurled ring grasping a router style collet. Over-engineered for a marking gauge? Yes, but that’s what is so nice about this tool.
It worked as well as any other wheel marking gauge in various tests both along and with the grain. It is comfortable and well balanced to use. Although personally I am not convinced wheel gauges are better than pin and cutter types.
Unscrew the small brass fitting at the end of the shaft and reverse it in the same position. The tool is now an awl using a hardened tip. Despite its relatively long length compared to my other awls, after practice I found it was easy to get quite deft with it for layout and scoring. The long length changes the way an awl is used, and I liked it.
Next, the same brass fitting is unscrewed and now fitted to the head in a threaded hole. A separate brass fitting with a tip then slides onto the shaft and is locked with a knurled knob. It is now a trammel. An included shaft extends the trammel out to 440mm.
The trammel can be used for precisely measuring between two points and for marking arcs and circles. The metal tip does tend to tear wood when marking an arc. A new update to the tool (not shown in the photo) is a pencil holder attaching to the trammel head which now completes what is a superb tool combination for woodwork.
The maker, John Thirwell, lives in Tecoma, Victoria and makes around 20 tools at a time. All are individually assembled and detailed. See thirlwelltools.com.au and email John Thirwell at firstname.lastname@example.org