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Dovetail Angle Gauges

OK, first out of the box are the Dovetail Angle Gauges. 

These are packaged in a self-seal plastic bag with a clearly labelled explanation of the angle for each colour of gauge. They are designed to make quick work of setting the router plate spirals for cutting, well, dovetails. The process is explained on my through dovetails page. The idea is that the angles are pre-set for the more common dovetail router bits, i.e. 6.5 degrees (red), 8 degrees (green) and 9.5 degrees (blue). Using these negates the use of a sliding bevel gauge and the time taken to set  it up.

 

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I was rather hoping that they would be made from anodised alloy, but they aren't. The very cheap price of $5  a set should have made it obvious really and I am sure metal ones would be much more expensive.

They appear to be composed of a hard foam plastic of a type known in the UK as Foamex Board. This is a lightweight, smooth -faced material frequently used in the sign making industry. Each one is of two parts glued together to form a Tee shape. On these, I found the joints to be well made, clean and accurate with no residue in the corners.  I clearly marked each one of mine so that I knew what the angles were.

 

Next up was to check the accuracy of the angles. To do this I printed out a CAD drawing of various angles. This is available for download as a PDF file on the Through dovetails page. I matched up both sides of each gauge to the relative angled line in turn. The vertical "fence" of each gauge was carefully placed against the lower edge of the paper. Any flaws or glue residue would have made itself immediately apparent, and I am pleased to say that each one passed that test.

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When checked, both sides of the red and green gauges were found to be spot on, but the blue one was out. What, what? OK I am being super critical here: it was over angle by a bit less than 1/4 of a degree. Now in woodwork and WoodRat terms this is totally negligible and is well within manufacturing tolerances so can safely be ignored.

In use the gauges are smooth running on the plate and sit accurately against the front edge, but I found that care has to be taken when aligning the router plate to the gauge. The gauge edge is not very long and so errors can creep in here. Of course the button has to be positioned first and if it is set well back as I describe in the Through dovetails page then there is a shorter length of mating edges. The further forward that you bring the router plate then the greater the amount of edge engagement. This is a minor niggle however and it has to be said that they work very well.

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I believe a longer and narrower angled flat section with a wider fence would be an improvement as it would provide greater engagement all round and doubt if it would give any production difficulties.

I would hesitate to use these for any marking out of tails by using a knife as the plastic would be at risk but a pencil should be fine. Yes, yes, I know they are not designed for that but it is an extra use and I do like to get value for money!! Now the 'Rat is able to make use of any dovetail cutter and if you are not sure of the slope of a specific bit all you need to do is cut through a strip of right angled wood or acrylic and offer up to the gauges to check the angle of one side of the cut. Simple!!

So in conclusion, I recommend these little gauges as well made, excellent value and time saving tools.

 

Now, I wonder how much these would cost in alloy?..................................................

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For more information on The Craftsman Gallery products visit their web site www.chipsfly.com

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