Most everyone who uses hand tools knows that you size your mortises to match your available chisels. There are exceptions, of course, but generally this is how it’s done. Why then do we not use our chisels to establish other offsets and sizes. I know some of you already do this but after talking to several people I was surprised that they had never even considered it.
Employing your chisels for double duty as gauges adds consistency, efficiency and accuracy to your work flow. They can be used to establish offsets for table rails, tenon haunches, dovetails and just about anything else that requires an offset. You can also use them to set depth of cuts for router and plow planes as well. I quite often design entire projects based upon the width of a chisel. My marking gauge for example.
As woodworkers we regard our chisels as essential cutting tools. So much so that they are kept at the bench within arms reach at all times. Does it not then follow that we should add them to our list of essential measuring and layout tools as well? Convenient to hand and a fixed width (no measuring). What’s not to like? So give your chisels another job at the bench, you will be pleasantly surprised at how doing so will improve your workflow.