Best Contour Gauge Buying Guide for 2020

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Building a house? Perhaps fixing a part of it? It might be difficult to get it done because very frequently you will have to work around pipes, corners and other such objects which form the base of your house.

In such cases, you will need something which will let you trace out the area around which you have to work. Generally, for a one time use, people use cardboard, tracing paper and a pair of scissors to mark the area around which they have to cut.

But if you have a big project or have to complete such projects often then you should get a contour gauge. But there are a lot of contour gauge models available in the market.

So how are you going to know which one is the best? More importantly, how will you select the very best? We are here to help you with exactly that.

Comparison of 10 Best Contour Gauge for 2020

ESFORT-Contour Gauge: Amazing tool that will save you time and Money!

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Check: General Tools 833 Plastic Contour Gauge

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Buying Guide for Best Contour Gauge in 2020


Contour gauges are tools which are mainly made up of using two materials- plastic and metal. The tool features a set of metal or plastic pins/wires which resemble a comb. These pins emulate a surface of a material when it is pressed to it. On a broader scale, the two materials might not seem that different but they are. Metal will be more long-lasting than plastic, no matter how high quality the plastic is. So if you do tend to work in building and construction regularly then the metal will serve you well for a long time.

There is another related factor which you will have to keep in mind. The metal wires or pins are put in the metal housing of the gauge in such a way that if you dislodge a few (it can be very easily done if the tool gets bounced around in a tool pouch or a drawer), then more pins get dislodged in quick succession. But you won’t have to face this issue with plastic contour gauges. They are completely locked into the tool so no matter how much you bounce it around, it won’t escape.


Know that plastic pins do tend to break off if you press it too hard against the surface of the thing you want to get a contour off. But metal has its problems. There is a risk of the metal pins or wires bending if you press the tool too hard against the object. This is because metal pins tend to be smaller in size and diameter when compared to the teeth of those contour gauges that are made up of plastic. But if used with a little care, then the metal will last longer.

Accurate Contouring

Since metal contour gauges have little pins so it also means that there tends to be more points or pins pressing every inch on the surface of the object. This does allow for more accurate tracking. Plastic combs won’t give you a very accurate tracing when compared to metal contour gauges but they can get tracing done for a wide variety of things too. It should be mentioned that if you have a little tight budget then you can go for plastic contour gauges too. Plastic gauges are also good for those projects where you don’t need to worry about accurate measurements and a broader estimation will get the job done.

Clamp Locking

A contour gauge should have a very strong clamp locking system otherwise it will be very difficult for you to transfer the pattern someplace else. This can make a big difference if you are constructing something big like a building and such. Sometimes even the smallest miscalculation can throw the entire planning off. So if you need to accurately transfer the pattern to some other material so that it can be cut out then make sure that the clamp is working properly. A properly working pattern will let you lock the pattern without any worry of dislodging it. The clamp shouldn’t get dislodged easily by a nudge or a sudden movement at all. Remember that a small mistake can make you have to replace the material on which you have drawn the contour to cut.

Angle Connector

This isn’t a feature that is generally considered to be important, especially by people who are new to this tool. But an angle connector will be your life savior if you have to work in big projects and have to make contours around corners or rounded objects. It will be very difficult to make a contour around a corner since the contour gauge is a straight instrument. So it won’t be able to provide you with accurate measurements of the whole corner and you will have to use the tool again and again to get the entire corner. This is where an angle connector will be able to get the contouring of the whole angle or rounded corner at once.

Joinable Parts

Contour gauges don’t tend to be very long. Most are around ten inches. But what if you are faced with a project where you need to contour around long spaces? Then you will have to repeatedly take the tool and then take the contour from where you left off last. This isn’t only time consuming but also a laborious process where there’s a high chance of overlapping. Overlapping can cause not just incorrect measurements but also wastage of materials where the contour would have to be drawn. So having a contour gauge that can be joined with another contour gauge will be very useful in such scenarios. All you will need are a couple of screws to join two gauges together. If you are a professional who works in the construction section then having a contour gauge that can be joined with another one will be a valuable investment for you.

Magnetic Blocks

If you have to work on ferrous objects then you could need magnetic blocks on the contour gauge so that it sticks to the material and helps you easily make the pattern. This will be especially helpful if the metal object you need to make a contour of is placed higher up and you can’t quite reach up there. If you work frequently in construction then magnetic blocks on contour gauges will surely make your work easier.

Contour Gauge for Tile Installation:

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FAQs on Best Contour Gauge in 2020

How can you use a contour gauge?

This is one of the easiest tools to use. A contour gauge can be used to cut around any oddly shaped piece of wood or any other object. Here's how to use it:

  • First press those pins or wires against the object which your wood, tile, or any other material has to be joined with. This makes a contour on the tool which you can then transfer on your tile or wood to cut.
  • After transferring the tool with the contour intact to the wood or tile, trace the outline so that after it is cut, it fits with the object. To cut you can use a hand saw, jigsaw, or band saw.

Can you make a contour gauge at home?

Yes, it is indeed possible to make a homemade contour gauge. But it will take a lot of time, effort, and materials. Moreover, the entire process of inserting the pins and then ensuring that the clamp gets locked properly will be difficult to carry out accurately. It's simply not worth it. It will be much cheaper and effective if you invest money and buy one. Know that one contour gauge will last you for a long time even after repeated use. But as with any tool, it's advised that you use it with care.

Are plastic gauges long-lasting?

The answer is yes. Plastic contour gauges aren't made up of cheap plastic. The quality is good enough if you are looking for something cheap and which can be used in a small project where accuracy isn't the question and a broad outline of the contour would do. But if you are thinking of getting a plastic gauge for using in big projects then the advice would be to invest in a metal one. The metal contour gauge would last longer for sure even if there's a chance of the pins bending. But with plastic ones, the pins can straight up break off if you apply too much pressure. Overall, as said above you should use the tool with a little care.

What can you use a contour gauge for?

You can use a contour gauge to emulate any shape. It can be of a pipe, any irregular shapes, woodcuts, zigzagging tiles, and more. All you have to do is press it to the object and get the shape. Then just transfer it to the material which you need to cut. Here's a little tip: Instead of transferring the shape to the material which has to be cut to mold around the shape of the pipe or corner, it's advisable that you first copy the shapes on cardboard. You can use a marker to get the tracing done. The advantage of this is that you will be able to use the cardboard marking multiple times to get the contouring on to the tile or wood you want to cut. This way you won't have to use the contour gauge again and again on the same angle or corner. It will save you tonnes of time and effort.

How to use a contour gauge? (Video Guide)

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What is the ideal length of a contour gauge which you should buy?

Contour gauges are found in various lengths ranging from 5 inches, ten inches to 20 inches, and even more even though anything more than 20 inches in length is rare. Generally, these are found in ten inches of length. That is quite enough for carrying out regular construction work. But you can buy joinable contour gauges if you want to increase the length of the tool by adding another one to it. Of course, you might think that as an alternative you should get the 20-inch tool all the once. But such a big instrument will be difficult to use in small and tight spaces. After all, such a big tool might not even fit in some areas.

How many pins should a contour gauge ideally have?

In terms of construction work, the accurate the contouring the better it will be for you. But to get this accurate contouring you will need a contour gauge which comes with a tonne of pins. The more the pins, the better the resolution of the contour will be. But more pins isn’t the only solution if you want a higher resolution, the pins also have to be thinner. Thinner pins mean that it will be able to accurately get the shape without any kind of distortion, which is a possibility if you use contour gauges with broad pins.

How to Make A Wooden Contour Gauge?

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How deep will the pins go in a contour gauge?

A standard contour gauge will give you a depth of 3 inches. This means that when you press the pins of the gauge to the surface of the object you want to contour they will take the contour to just 3 inches of depth. For general purposes, this is enough. But you can get 5 inches and even more as well if the need arises for a special project.

Final Verdict

Overall, contour gauges are some of the very best tools available. No matter what you are fixing or constructing, there will come a time when you will have to mold around a pipe, corner, or angle. This is where a contour gauge will come in use. Another great benefit of this tool is just how easy it is to use. All you have to do to get the contour of the angle or corner of an object is press the tool to it. Then you will have to lock it and transfer the shape. It’s just that easy. There’s no troubling maths or calculations involved. The tool is also cheap and durable which makes it easy on your pockets. Hopefully, now you are enlightened about the contour gauges and their uses. It will surely look great in your toolbox.

Edmond Clark is a 34-year-old Blogger from California, USA. He is a Certified Market Research Professional (MRP) & a full-time blogger. His aim is to help the consumer to choose the best product from the market. Contact him for any of your queries.

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