Using a Bar Stock to Set Up Tools

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Anyone who knows George knows that he pretty much hates measuring. He cheats whenever possible, employing a variety of tips and tricks, including using a set-up gauge. Set-up gauges are simple little things: brass bar stock in a variety of sizes, but they take a lot of the hassle out of setting up tools.

What’s the advantage?

It can be pretty tough reading a ruler and measuring to the teeth on a dado head, or to the precise tip of a router bit or drill bit. It’s lots easier to use bar stock, and simply use your fingertip to determine when the cutter is even with the face of the set-up gauge. Setting depth on a plunge router? Use bar stock between the stop rod and turret. Need a precise hole depth on a drill press? A set up gauge against the stop collar makes it easy. Need to set a precise distance between a router bit and router table fence? Yep, a piece of bar stock makes it super simple.

What makes up a set?

Most sets of set up gauges include a variety of sizes of brass bar stock. ⅛”, 3/16”, ¼”, ⅜”, and ½” are sizes commonly included in a good set of gauges. But don’t feel like you’re limited to those specific dimensions. You can stack the bars to hit other sizes. For example, using 3/16” in combination with ¼” gives you 7/16”. This is very handy.

More great ideas

If you think using bar stock for setting up tools is a great idea, you really need to explore WWGOA.com and have a look at more shop tips and ideas. They’re sure to save you time, prevent frustration, and help you get more enjoyment out of your shop time.

Discussion
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5 Responses to “Using a Bar Stock to Set Up Tools”
  1. John

    I understand about using a ruler for setting depth of cut on our tools. It doesn’t work well. The bars are consistent. But, what about using digital measuring devices? I use a couple different ones and the consistency they provide is outstanding.

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi John. That is a great approach as well. I use both a digital measuring device and brass bar stock. I find the brass bar stock to be quicker if I am setting the blade height to match one of the brass bars that I have, and for any measurement that is not a perfect match to one of the bars, I use the digital measurement tool and it works great.
      Thanks
      Paul-WWGOA

      Reply
  2. Robert Gearon

    Your not telling me anything I didn’t know from working in a machine shop. Your blocks are called Joe Blocks. You can get them is almost any size. Or just buy a full set or make your own out of wood. However they can lie to you. Make your setup then fine tune it for closer mesurments. It all depends how accurate your trying to get. But its wood, and wood is a living material. It moves. Metal will too just not as much.

    Reply

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