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 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.

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