In the late 19th century, table saws weren’t that common. Your average craftsman was spending a great deal of his time cutting various pieces of stock to size, usually with a hand ripsaw. Following a line with a rip saw, even with good skills, usually meant the saw wavered a little as it followed the grain of the wood instead.
Slitting gauges took many forms, and many craftsmen made their own, but they all followed the general form of a blade, held in place by some sort of wedge at the end of a bar. Also running on that bar, was a moveable fence. The fence ran along the edge of the stock, adjusting the distance from the edge of the stock, to the blade.
A slitting gauge tended to be used on thinner stock where the blade could complete the cut right through, such as the thin stock used for the bottoms of cabinet drawers. But these tools also proved to be very helpful in scribing a good starting line on thicker stock for the saw to follow.
I found this gauge in a car boot sale. It’s made by ‘Fenton & Marsden’, another excellent edge tool maker from Sheffield. It’s 9” long, is made of ebony, with a brass end and original brass wedge. It also has a tightening screw made of boxwood, which is really beautiful.
At Hackney Tools, we buy antique tools. If you have any old tools in good condition and you would like to sell them, please get in touch.