Using a Contour Gauge to Make a Threshold

A Tool to Make Cutting Contours Easy!

I installed trim around my front door and was super-excited about how it came out. It is stained pine, and it really stands out against the white walls plus my miters are tight with no gaps. Of course, I decided to make a threshold to go under the door after the fact and did not want to remove the trim – I was afraid I would never get it realigned correctly. I bought a contour gauge to make the threshold fit around the trim and was surprised at how easy it was to use!

using a contour gauge to make threshold floor before

The Goal

I needed to be able to recreate the angle of the trim on the board I was using for the threshold since I didn’t want to remove the trim. The gauge would allow me to copy and trace the angle onto the board, then cut it out with a jigsaw.

The Contour Gauge

A contour gauge is made up of several tiny pins that move when pressed against a surface. The pins are then locked into place with a mechanism on the gauge so that the corresponding curves or angles can be traced onto the working surface. The one that I have is poorly made and doesn’t really hold the pins in place but I think if I were to create a small shim, it would work really well but that is a post for another day. A quality contour gauge (<– affiliate link!) will make a huge difference!

using a contour gauge to make threshold

The Threshold

I measured the outside edge of the door casings from side to side to determine the length of the threshold, then cut my board to length. I also cut a bevel in one long edge with a router and a chamfer bit so that there wouldn’t be any stubbed toes or tripping over the threshold when going out of the door.

using a contour gauge to make threshold router with chamfer bit

The Method

To recreate the angle of the trim, I unlocked the lever on the side of the gauge, then pressed the pins against the trim. I then locked the lever in place. Of course, the second I stepped outside to trace the angle onto my board, I touched the pins which got them all out of whack so I had to do it over again.

using a contour gauge to make threshold with angle

Once I had the angle on the gauge, I stepped outside again (this time without touching the pins on the gauge) and traced the angle onto each end of my board. I then cut the angle with the jigsaw. Sidebar: the jigsaw and I are now friends. This one (<– affiliate link!) is the best I’ve ever used!

using a contour gauge to make threshold on board

using a contour gauge to make threshold cut angle

Finishing and Installing the Threshold

Once I had the angles for the trim cut, I dry-fit the threshold and it fir perfectly! The angles were a bit off but I would say that was due to the quality of the jig and not my skills (wink, wink). I then sanded, stained and sealed the threshold then secured it to the floor using 2″ brad nails.

using a contour gauge to make threshold dry fit

using a contour gauge to make threshold stained

using a contour gauge to make threshold completed

using a contour gauge to make threshold closeup

The Takeaway

The contour gauge is a great tool for recreating all sorts of angles for floor installation, for trim or for thresholds. Have questions about using a contour gauge to make a threshold? Leave a comment below!

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