Bob Vila Radio: Your Quick Guide to the Contour Gauge

Recreate the precise shape of corners, edges, and curves on wood, tile, and other materials with a simple, low-tech tool that couldn't be easier to use. Learn more now.

By Bob Vila | Updated Aug 22, 2015 5:37 PM

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Cutting flooring or siding to fit around curved surfaces can be tricky, especially if you don’t have the right tool. In this case, what you need is a contour gauge.


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Listen to BOB VILA ON CONTOUR GAUGES or read the text below:

Contour gauges look a bit like a hair comb, but with teeth protruding from both sides of the handle. Rather than being fixed and stationary, those teeth slide smoothly through the handle, molding to the contour of whatever profile you set the gauge against.

Using the tool is dead-simple. First, lightly press the teeth against a flat surface to make sure the ends are in line. Then nudge the gauge up against whatever shape you wish to duplicate. Once you’ve got it, lay the contour gauge onto the material you’re working with. Trace the shape dictatated by the teeth of the gauge, then make your cut with a jigsaw, bandsaw, or coping saw.

Bob Vila Radio is a 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day carried on more than 186 stations in 75 markets around the country. Click here to subscribe, so you can automatically receive each new episode as it arrives—absolutely free!