Opinions please #2: Table knife marking tool

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Blog entry by curliejones posted 06-20-2013 01:50 PM 1845 reads 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: Solid core door topping the bench Part 2 of Opinions please series Part 3: Shop made tools - saddle square? »

I have most of the desirable properties built into this marking tool. Spear point, beveld only on one side, sharp (for now), easy to reach into dovetails, and somewhat comfortable. I picked this knife up yesterday at a resale store for a quarter and found the conversion much easier and faster than I expected. I began with a very thin bladed stainless table knife that has just a little flex to it. The thicker blades were certainly more prevalent in the array of knives at the store. I cut the blade with a hacksaw having it clamped into my metal shop vise at an angle and used the top of the vise jaws as my guide then re-clamped to cut the other side of the spear. It cut surprisingly easy and the bevel was made onto the spear using a flat file. I finished it off with an Arkansas stone (fine). My guess is since it cut easily, it may dull easily also. However, my experience with kitchen knives tells me that it will take half a minute to touch it up to restore the sharpness. I have several good sharp knives with stainless steel blades in the kitchen but I reach for the one Old Hickory with a carbon steel blade the most. I keep the steel in the same knife block and usually pull it out and hit the old HIck for about fifteen seconds before using it and find it to be the sharpest knife available.
I can probably make 6-8 of these in an hour and at a cost of 25 cents for each blade, have a ready supply that could be sharpened all at the same time.

Since I have no true marking experience as I head toward more hand tool use, I’d like to know what you jocks think about the concept. Would I be better off with thicker blades to begin with? Should I forget this and try some old jigsaw or recip saw blades instead? Having the integral handle here is attractive to me and I can only imagine the patterns available in various tableware.

-- Like Guy Clark sez - "Sometimes I use my head, Sometimes I get a bigger hammer"

3 comments so far

View PurpLev's profile


8539 posts in 3698 days

#1 posted 06-20-2013 02:16 PM

I would stay away from stainless for cutting tools if you really need a sharp edge as stainless can’t take a razor sharp edge to it – carbon steel CAN.

that is why you see different knives in the kitchen using different materials depending on it’s purpose.

In the shop I would personally stay clear from SS. and this is especially true for a marking knife which compared to chisels and other edge tools sees the MOST use – so you would be spending a lot of time at that stone – and still won’t achieve a very fine edge which is a necessity for marking tools

marking tools need an extra sharp edge as they are used on raw lumber to generate that initial fine line for other tools to follow. if you mess up this fine line – the rest of the tools will follow any inconsistencies thereafter. If you cannot produce a very fine line (edge not sharp enough) – those lines could potentially be shown in the final work.

I like pencil type marking knives – they are very easy to hold and use like a pencil so you have a lot of control over what you are doing as well it has a very good reach into tight places.

just my $0.02

That said – nice work.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View GrandpaLen's profile


1650 posts in 2322 days

#2 posted 06-20-2013 02:22 PM

...very clever ‘Marking Knife’, Curlie.

Work Safely and have Fun. – Grandpa Len.

-- Mother Nature should be proud of what you've done with her tree. - Len ...just north of a stone's throw from the oHIo, river that is, in So. Indiana.

View gko's profile


83 posts in 3294 days

#3 posted 06-20-2013 09:23 PM

I’ve tried a bunch of marking knives and the one I love is the Tamamoku spear point knife. Single bevel on the back makes for easy and accurate marking. Spear point so like yours you can use it on either side of the rule or with either hand. What has made this so nice is that the steel is about rc66 which is as hard as you can get without becoming too brittle. I sharpened it once and can use it for a ton of projects. Just a thin layer of the hard steel is used (see pic) so sharpening like their other tools so is easier and faster than a knife where the whole blade is made of the hard steel. The larger soft steel is like a shock absorber and allows them to make a harder steel before it begins to chip. The back is gouged out so only the edges needs to be sharpened making it faster to flatten even if it’s such a hard steel. The back is made so it doesn’t affect the accuracy of the cut. I had another Japanese marking knife but it was made of a softer steel so the edge didn’t last as I had hoped. It still lasted longer than my other knives but only marginally. This one really keeps an edge a long time. As with other Japanese tools don’t scrape, they are designed to cut. Woodcraft bought out Japan Woodworker so I paid $20 and had them bring it in without having to pay shipping.

-- Wood Menehune, Honolulu

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