Kevin Drake was a drummer turned computer programmer turned furniture-maker, and in 2001 he got so aggravated with his marking gauge that he threw it into the street.
The good news was that Kevin saw the solution to his problem in a book by Jim Kingshott, “Making and Modifying Woodworking Tools.” Kingshott had a marking gauge in that book that you could micro-adjust, and Kevin wanted it.
The bad news was that you couldn’t buy it. Kingshott’s had been made by a metalworker.
So Kevin was aggravated.
Sometime after that he saw an ad in the newspaper for a guy who was selling woodworking machines. Kevin needed some machines because he had sold his when he moved out to Ft. Bragg, Calif., to attend the woodworking program at the College of the Redwoods under James Krenov.
He went and saw the guy with the machines; and though the guy didn’t have any machines that Kevin was interested in, Kevin found out he was a metalworker. So Kevin brought him a copy of Kingshott’s book.
“Can you make this?” Kevin asked. He could, and a few days later Kevin had a working version of the marking gauge he’d always wanted.
“I liked it for about an hour and a half,” Kevin said. “Then I saw it had a major limitation. So I redesigned it (the gauge), and the guy made me one of those.”
That was the first Tite-Mark gauge. Kevin liked it so much that he had the guy make him 30 more, which he sold to summer students at the college.
“Then I asked him to make me 100 more,” Kevin said, “and he told me to get the hell out.”
The metalworker put Kevin in touch with a student who did this sort of work, and the business Glen-Drake Toolworks was born. (By the way, “Glen” is Kevin’s middle name.)
Now the parts are made on precision CNC equipment in Northern California for Kevin. Then Kevin tunes up the parts, assembles the tools and ships them out to customers. Since he invented the Tite-Mark, he’s made and sold about 10,000 of them.
For those of you who have been ignoring my writing for the last 12 years, the Tite-Mark gauge is my favorite. No waffling. No equivocation. I knew it from the first moment I picked up the tool, and I feel just as strongly today.
And I know that at least one other person agrees with me (and I’d love to meet them someday). You see, I’ve only had three tools stolen from me in the last 12 years. One was a Wayne Anderson plane that someone snitched from a show at Ft. Washington, Pa. A second was a plane hammer from Glen-Drake. And the third was my first Tite-Mark.
— Christopher Schwarz