There is nothing quite like holding a well-made woodworking tool in your hand, whether it is the solid heft of a Bailey #5 or the warm and silky feel of a well-used brass and rosewood square.
This past Christmas was most definitely a “woodworking Christmas” for me. Aside from some much needed winter boots (my last pair was bordering on 15 years old… one of my few possessions left over from college) almost every gift I received had something to do with woodworking. I never ask for a lot (in fact, I find it hard to make the required list every year), but I do try to ask for very specific, quality tools.
This year, just two weeks before Christmas, my wife almost reached a point of exasperation with trying to get a list out of me. One thing finally came to mind; it was something I’d wanted to get for more than two years, but had never really considered buying for myself. I put it down on my short list, along with the appropriate contact information. In all honesty, I didn’t expect to receive it at all, much less by Christmas.
So I was pleasantly surprised to open one of my last gifts and find a small marking knife from Blue Spruce Toolworks! Dana said it had arrived just a week after I’d told her about it (she’d ordered it that day). It came in a small dark green box, with a note to me from Dave Jeske, the owner, printed on heavy bonded paper, talking about the construction details and care of the marking knife.
My wife might not always understand me… but at least she puts up with me. So she didn’t seem to mind that much when I immediately grabbed my fine/extra fine ceramic stone (also recently opened that morning) and spent the next five minutes flattening and polishing the back. A few short passes of the bevels over the extra fine stone brought it up to a nail-catching, razor-sharp edge.
I grabbed some scrap wood and a square from the shop and marked cross-grain lines as cleanly and as easily as if it were a surgeon’s scalpel. It was quite comfortable to hold and it felt solid and well-made. I was impressed.
I sent a thank you letter to Dave a few days ago. His reply was short, but eloquent, and ended with the suggestive words to, “Make some beautiful things!” I fully plan on following his advice.
If you’ve never used a marking knife in any of your projects, you should give it a try. While there are certainly still aspects of woodworking that call for a finely-sharpened pencil, there are just as many times when a marking knife will give you much more accurate layout lines. I think you’ll find it makes a noticeable difference.
I thanked Dave for making such a great knife, but I can think of no better way to truly thank him than by recommending others to purchase and use his products. If you don’t own one, and would like to give it a try, or if you’re unsatisfied with your current marking knife, you should consider buying one from Blue Spruce Toolworks (or at least putting one on your woodworker wish list). Dave’s smaller knife is priced at $40, but excepting natural disaster or major shop catastrophe, it should be a one-time purchase that will last you many years and serve you well almost straight out of the box.
If you need another opinion, Chris Schwarz, Editor for Popular Woodworking and Woodworking Magazine, picked it as his #1 choice for marking knives. Read his Endurance Test for more information!
-- Ethan, http://thekiltedwoodworker.com