I love making something useful from offcuts and left-overs in the shop. Consequently, I never throw anything away. I keep odd brackets, offcuts of wood and metal, spare knobs, bolts, nuts etcetera etcetera.

Last weekend I came upon a lovely little piece of Padauk in my offcut box while looking for something else. “Aha!” I thought. “What to do with this!”   I figured something to go with my newly acquired wood lathe would be useful. The result was this:


A bowl depth gauge. The piece of Padauk is 11″ long which is very close to the swing capacity of my lathe and the depth rod shown will dive 5.5″ into a bowl.

This is sufficient for most of what I intend doing with the lathe but if I need to measure deeper I simply insert a longer rod. I had an empty wooden box that something came in years ago (Yes I keep boxes as well!). What originally came in the box I cannot recall but it serves very well to house my handy, new bowl depth gauge set. I lined the box with blue felt left over from the recent chess set project.


The gauge body is, as I have said, made from Padauk with the wear plate made from an offcut of artificial ivory (Elforyn).  A wear plate is not really necessary on this tool but I felt that it would give the tool a more finished look.

I made the brass knob and insert from offcuts of brass rod. The two wooden knobs on the ends of the rods are Gidgee I think. They have been knocking around the workshop for years so I didn’t have to turn them. Total shop time involved in this little project was about three hours, a good part of which was spent rooting around in drawers and presses for the bits and bobs used in the making.

Another example of ‘making something from nothing’ is my Slot Morticing machine (see an earlier post) which was built largely from odds and ends lying about the shop. That machine has proved its worth many times down the years.

So the lesson is, never throw anything away, it will come in useful some day.