Hand tool tips and tricks #13: When a Marking Knife Won't Do

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Blog entry by RGtools posted 03-19-2013 12:49 PM 1879 reads 2 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 12: Quick Glue Spreader Part 13 of Hand tool tips and tricks series Part 14: Layout Speed Tip. »

Sometimes you will be faced with the challenge of fitting assembly to another (a molding to a carcase for instance). In cases like this it is best to use one piece to fit the other; the fancy term for this behavior being “verify in field”.

In the perfect world both your molding and your carcase would be square and you could easily do this with a knife. But you will often have little gaps from being out square. These gaps make it difficult to use a layout knife with any accuracy.

You could put yourself through the misery of squaring the exterior carcase to get things to fit flat, but I have a different solution. Get a bigger knife. Here I am using a plane blade. The large bearing surface gives much better registration to the carcase allowing me to mark a very solid baseline for my dovetails.

You can also press the mating board against the carcase to strike a second line. This line will be the length of your molding.

Now, go have some fun.

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

6 comments so far

View MyChipCarving's profile


607 posts in 3242 days

#1 posted 03-19-2013 01:00 PM

Thanks for sharing. Ideas like yours help keep me from mindlessly doing what I’ve always done.

-- Marty,, 866-444-6996

View ShaneA's profile


7021 posts in 2715 days

#2 posted 03-19-2013 01:27 PM

Looks like a solid tip. Will have to try this one out some time.

View Don W's profile

Don W

18935 posts in 2684 days

#3 posted 03-19-2013 01:42 PM

Ryan, I think your making a point that things don’t have to be perfect to be perfect. Keep up the good (no great) work.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View RGtools's profile


3372 posts in 2771 days

#4 posted 03-19-2013 04:10 PM

They don’t need to be perfect, they just need to fit.

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

View AnthonyReed's profile


9961 posts in 2557 days

#5 posted 03-19-2013 06:50 PM

^Unless you have a raging case of OCD, then you are screwed until the bourbon kicks in.

Honestly i hope what Don brings up and that which you and Smitty demonstrate, on occasion, will eventually sink in. I am getting better as time goes by.

Great tip. Thanks Ryan.

-- ~Tony

View Mauricio's profile


7144 posts in 3268 days

#6 posted 03-20-2013 04:35 PM

Nice tip Ryan!

-- Mauricio - Woodstock, GA - "Confusion is the Womb of Learning, with utter conviction being it's Tomb" Prof. T.O. Nitsch

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