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Joseph Marples Trial One Set

When one is buying a Marples’ tool they are buying a great deal of history. The earliest recorded mention of Marples is about 1540 in Balow Derby Shire. There the family stayed until about 1750. They had two sons William and Robert. William, born in 1809 was most likely the founder of the Joseph Marples Company. In 1840s Joseph Marples was one of several companies in Sheffield using the Marples name. Since that time Joseph Marples has manufactured joiners’ tools such as brass inlaid, rosewood and ebony braces as well as boxwood spoke shaves and beach plains, gouges and squares. The business remains in the family today and is currently ran by Joseph Anthony Marples.

That kind of quality goes into each tool produced by the Joseph Marples company. We acquired two sets of the trial one gift boxes.  We ran several tests for accuracy and usability and the tools performed marvelously. My favorite is the marking gauge, a beautiful gauge with brass inlays in real Indian Rosewood. The beauty of this tool is simply amazing.

I have used several tools of lesser quality and have always been in search for this type of quality and when we found out that we could get these tools we were very excited. The set came with a marking gauge that also works as a tenoning gauge, a square,  a miter square a marking knife also a bevel gauge. All the tools function excellently. A special note was the quality of fit and accuracy in each tool.  Daniel ran special tests on the squares to ensure their accuracy (see below). They were all perfect he will describe that in his portion of the review. These tools will remain in my shop for the rest of my life. After which they will be passed down to my children who I am sure will fight for the right to these tools. The trial one set is a great gift for Christmas or Hanukkah it will please any woodworker. Without a doubt these are some of the finest tools I have ever had the privilege of working with.

have a great holiday

sincerely Lance.


The Old Dwarf  added,


The Joseph Marples “Trial One” set of marking tools came to me in a beautiful display box with a cut outs for each tool. The set contains the following:

  • 9" Try Square
  • A Sliding Try Square
  • Screw adjusted slide mortise marking gauge
  • A Sliding Bevel
  • A Marking Knife

Each one is a work of art, made from fine rosewood, brass and steel.

As with any marking tools I always check the square and angle of the blades. Turning to the Try Square first I began by laying a steel straight edge on my bench, then placing a piece of paper under the edge. Note: it is not necessary to get the paper square to the straight edge but it should be at least as long as the square you are checking. Now lay the Try Square handle flush to the edge of the straight edge, it is important to make sure it is truly butted up against the edge or your next steps will be flawed. Making sure the paper or straight edge doesn’t move, take a sharp pencil or ball pen, the finer the tip the better, and scribe a line down the length of the blade. Next rotate the square to face the opposite way (left to right), checking that it is right up against the straight edge. Scribe another line starting on top of the first line draw it down the length of the blade as in the last step. Now, if the two lines cover each other then the square is at a perfect 90 degree angle, if the lines separate then the square is off.  The Marples tools are secured with rivets so there is no way to adjust them if they are not true. Fortunately the square was spot on. Each of the other 90 degree tools can be checked against the try square to see of they are accurate. Checking to see if a 45 degree angle is true takes a different process. Actually there are several ways and simply too many to mention here. I suggest you search the internet and pick the one that you find the easiest for you.

Back to the Marples’ tools, after checking the angles I found them to be perfect (as I expected from such a master as Joseph Marples) but I can’t suggest strongly enough that  you check any marking tools you get to see if they are true. If one angle is off the misalignment will be transferred to all the angles in your project, magnifying with each cut.

So, to sum up, the Marples’ Trial One set is a beautiful and exacting collection of marking tools that are the best I have seen thus far in my woodworking ventures. The Trial One set appears to be on the high side pricewise, at approximately $160 plus shipping from the U.K, (I could not find a US retailer who sells the complete set this may change in the future). But If you price out most other sets containing the same tools you will find the price is not too much higher then the competition But, the quality, precision and beauty of these tools easily justifies the expense. These are tools you will hand down to your children. I find this set easy to recommend.

Best holiday wishes:





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