Woodsmith Tips

Dial Indicator Depth Gauge

Photo Planing stock to an exact thickness usually involves a lot of trial and error (and measuring) to get it right. The problem is, the thickness scale on the planer just isn’t accurate enough to show how much material I have left to remove.

But I’ve come up with a simple dial indicator gauge that takes the guess work out of adjusting the planer. Now I can measure once and then dial in the perfect setting the first time. This saves me a lot of time, trouble, and frustration.

As you can see in the photo at right, the main part of the gauge consists of a dial indicator mounted to a hardwood block. The block has a rabbet on the back and a couple of screws and washers hold it firmly in place above the scale on the planer.

The second part of the gauge is a small, aluminum L-bracket fastened to the thickness indicator. It acts as a contact point for the dial indicator.

Here’s how the gauge works. Start by planing your stock slightly oversize in thickness. Then measure the stock with calipers or a tape measure, making note of how much material is left to plane off.

Next, without changing the cutting height of the planer, attach the gauge. Mount it so that the point of the dial indicator stays in contact with the L-bracket as the cutterhead (and thickness indicator) is lowered.

After setting the dial indicator to the amount that needs to be removed, as in the inset photo, lower the cutterhead, making several light cuts, until the dial indicator registers at “zero.” Now your stock is planed to perfect thickness.

Have a nice weekend,

Phil Huber
Online Editor, ShopNotes

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