Marking Knives.... how sharp?

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Forum topic by Mainiac Matt posted 04-07-2014 02:22 PM 1255 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Mainiac Matt

8029 posts in 2322 days

04-07-2014 02:22 PM

Topic tags/keywords: sharp makring knife

So I made an Amazon purchase recently and needed something in the $10 range to trip the new $35 free shipping limit. I always keep a few items in my wish list for just this occasion and got the Crown Marking knife.

I noticed that though the bevel was nicely ground, it left a distinct flat about 1/64 wide.

I also recently got the Work Sharp sharpener, so of course I’m going crazy sharpening everything in site. So I sharpened the making knife to a razor edge.

I used it for the first time last night and had two problems….
1. the marked line was so thin and faint, I could hardly see it, let alone use it to position a chisel.
2. after two or three lines, I noticed that I had bent the tip slightly, which had been ground very thin during the sharpening.

So now I’m wondering if I screwed up. And whether I should have left the knife the way it was, with the slight flat.

Any thoughts for me?

-- It’s the knowledge in your head, skill in your hands and motivation to create in you heart that makes you a woodworker. - Mainiac Matt

5 replies so far

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

10473 posts in 3422 days

#1 posted 04-07-2014 02:33 PM

Dave made me one and I was gifted a Japanese one. They are both fairly sharp. I think the trick is the bevel. You want the knife to widen (thicken?) out quickly after the edge. Sharp to cut the line and thick to widen the top of the cut.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View JayT's profile


5619 posts in 2204 days

#2 posted 04-07-2014 02:55 PM

I have a few marking knives now. The best, by far, is one purchased from David Barron. It is razor sharp and a thin blade, but made of very high quality steel.

I have another practically identical to the Crown (it might even be from the same factory with a different brand label) that I absolutely cannot get very sharp and it dulls quickly, regardless of bevel. Like you, I never could get it to make a good line. It’s just made out of lower quality steel. Since getting the Barron knife, I don’t use this one at all. My only other marking knife that gets used is shop made from part of an old plane iron and it does much better. It is also sharpened to a razor edge, but with the blade being wider, it leaves a wider mark. I end up using this one for rougher work and the Barron knife for detail work that demands more precision.

A sharp knife will produce a thin line and then I sometimes use a pencil to darken the line slightly. A decent cut with very little pressure and there is just enough to see and position a chisel. I don’t think you screwed up, it’s just the knife is not well made for its purpose.

-- In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock. Thomas Jefferson

View woodchuckerNJ's profile


1274 posts in 1627 days

#3 posted 04-07-2014 02:58 PM

They should be razor sharp. A dull tool is a dangerous tool.
It sound like you changed the size of the bevel, which would lead to a thin line, and a weak edge.

On a stone or paper re-sharpen the edge, then put a micro bevel on it so you strengthen the edge and get a nicer line.
Mine do not have microbevels.
I have two different types of knives, both are spear point, but one is thicker than the other. The fine one is so fine for dovetails, it is also thin like you describe. That’s the way it is, and the way it will stay. The other is for general marking and leaves a thick line. I use a strop to touch up both.

-- Jeff NJ

View a1Jim's profile


117085 posts in 3570 days

#4 posted 04-07-2014 03:12 PM

Their not effective unless their sharp.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

4980 posts in 2487 days

#5 posted 04-07-2014 03:35 PM

I also have a Crown marking knife, and like JayT I can’t get it sharp for anything. It sits in a drawer unused because of the lousy scratches it made.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

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