Craving adventure and a need to explore the unknown, I went over to Raleigh Friday morning for an Antiques Extravaganza. Wandering around, I found a dealer with tools for sale. Antiques and tools, could it get any better? I did something unusual and actually bought something.

What I bought was billed as a veneer thickness gauge. It is made from wood and brass and looks something like this:

Handsome piece, isn't it?

Handsome piece, isn’t it?

It is a tool, attractive and didn’t cost much. Perfect. That is until I got home and started examining the gauge. The description doesn’t hold up to close scrutiny. The slots on the lower half are all around 1/16″. The slots in the upper half also seem to be of similar widths that bear no obvious correlation to the markings.

And then there are the markings. What veneer is dimensioned from 0.25 to 8? I thought the marks might be marking off 1/4″ increments.

At 6", the marks seem close.

At 6″, the marks seem close.

6″ is close to the 6 mark. But not the 5, 4, 3 or 2. Then I noticed the tick marks are uniformly spaced but the numbers below 6 are marked in quarters, X.25, X.50, X.75. Above 6 only X.50.

That's just unusual.

That’s just unusual.

The tick marks are 1.5% out of horizontal and about 0.35″ (8.89 mm) apart. The wood doesn’t really look old.

What does it measure? Is is just an old brass strip added to new wood? And what did the brass strip come from?

So, what is it really?