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Making A Mark...

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Blog entry by Ethan Sincox posted 01-09-2007 09:36 PM 695 reads 0 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch

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



10 comments so far

View scottb's profile

scottb

3648 posts in 2983 days


#1 posted 01-10-2007 04:29 AM

hmmm…. $40 against the time it would take to make my own (lack of metalworking skills notwithstanding)

Thanks for the recommendation

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- http://blanchardcreative.etsy.com -- http://snbcreative.wordpress.com/

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scottb

3648 posts in 2983 days


#2 posted 01-10-2007 04:31 AM

Oh, and they’re gorgeous to boot, looks like a nice calligraphy pen.

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- http://blanchardcreative.etsy.com -- http://snbcreative.wordpress.com/

View Don's profile

Don

2599 posts in 2833 days


#3 posted 01-10-2007 11:46 PM

Ethan, the links in your post are not working for me.

I’ve been using a Veritas marking knife! for a few years now. I think that once one discovers the benefits of a marking knife, there would be few occasions where a pencil would work as well.

Recently, I purchased one of these from a friend in Perth. It’s quite small and delicate, but great for really fine work. The wood is Jarrah. Length of the handle is 6”/150mm, the blades are 2mm thick tool steel (ground from new jigsaw blades), and the ferrule is brass. The double bevel is intended for left and right use.

-- CanuckDon "I just love small wooden boxes!" http://dpb-photography.me/

View Ethan Sincox's profile

Ethan Sincox

765 posts in 2830 days


#4 posted 01-11-2007 06:05 AM

Sorry about that, Don. The first link didn’t work for me, either, but the second one did. I can use both of them now; let me know if you still have a problem, though…

-- Ethan, http://thekiltedwoodworker.com

View scottb's profile

scottb

3648 posts in 2983 days


#5 posted 01-11-2007 06:43 AM

I think there was an errant punctuation mark yesterday… no probs now! Such beautiful work there.

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- http://blanchardcreative.etsy.com -- http://snbcreative.wordpress.com/

View Don's profile

Don

2599 posts in 2833 days


#6 posted 01-11-2007 06:54 AM

Ethan, this is a coincidence. The marking tools I show above are made by Derek Cohen whose name is shown in the left column of found in your second link.

Thanks,

-- CanuckDon "I just love small wooden boxes!" http://dpb-photography.me/

View Ethan Sincox's profile

Ethan Sincox

765 posts in 2830 days


#7 posted 01-11-2007 07:10 AM

Don, that’s pretty amazing, but I don’t believe in coincidence! Just one of those inexplicable things that links different people together all across the planet…

I started looking through some of this postings, though… he’s got some great ideas on tool storage and marking knives and marking gauges.

-- Ethan, http://thekiltedwoodworker.com

View scottb's profile

scottb

3648 posts in 2983 days


#8 posted 01-11-2007 07:21 AM

Synchronicity!

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- http://blanchardcreative.etsy.com -- http://snbcreative.wordpress.com/

View Don's profile

Don

2599 posts in 2833 days


#9 posted 01-11-2007 08:02 AM

Yes. Derek is recognized in Australia as one of the country’s foremost experts in hand tools. And he has a growing reputation in the USA as he writes for many woodworking sites and mag’s. He contributed a few articles to a woodworking newsletter that I used to edit.

He lives in Perth, Western Australia, where the climate is very similar to that of Capetown and San Diego. It’s rather isolated from the rest of Australia. In fact it’s much closer to Bangkok than it is to either Sydney or Melbourne.

-- CanuckDon "I just love small wooden boxes!" http://dpb-photography.me/

View Ethan Sincox's profile

Ethan Sincox

765 posts in 2830 days


#10 posted 01-11-2007 03:45 PM

Yes, Scott, that is the word I was looking for!

-- Ethan, http://thekiltedwoodworker.com

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