A spoke gauge

Wheelwrighting was an amazingly complex job. There were so many pieces in a wheel and all had to be made to fit together accurately and securely. To assist in the task, various gauges were used and today we feature a spoke gauge.

A 19th century spoke gauge at Market Lavington Museum

It doesn’t look much, but if you had to make mortice joints, at the right angle so that spokes made the wheel saucer shaped, you’d have needed one. A helpful sketch explains how it was used.

A sketch showing how to use the spoke gauge - part of the records kept at the museum

The stock is the hub – the central part of a cart wheel and the gauge has been fitted to it temporarily. A piece of whalebone, from an old corset is wedged into place in the gauge so that a suitable angle can be made between the spoke and the hub. The mortice to hold the spoke could be marked and cut.

This gauge is made of oak and dates from the early 19th century. It was used at Gye’s Yard on White Street, amongst others, by Charlie Burnett.

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