Marking Knife/Gauge Use

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Forum topic by dhg posted 04-09-2009 08:35 PM 6226 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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197 posts in 3741 days

04-09-2009 08:35 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question marking knife humor resource

I could have put this thread in another forum, but I thought while your drinking your morning coffee or after the shop lights have been turned off and your sitting there with an adult beverage, you could ponder this and help answer a question for me.

I’ve seen many plans to make your own knife or gauge and thought they look neat with the exotic woods and brass but when would I use one. I use a sharp pencil and occasionally will use a utility knife to score across grain when I know tear out will be a problem, but other than that it’s just a pencil.

How often or when do you use marking knives or gauges or like me a utility knife?

Thanks for the imput


-- Talent on Loan from God - Rush Limbaugh

9 replies so far

View Julian's profile


880 posts in 3554 days

#1 posted 04-09-2009 08:57 PM

I use my homemade marking knife quite often. It’s invaluable when marking dovetails. It produces a much finer line than a pencil, so it is a bit easier to get exact cuts.

I made this one using a scrap of curly bubinga, and an old 1/2” spade bit.

-- Julian, Park Forest, IL

View lew's profile


12102 posts in 3784 days

#2 posted 04-09-2009 10:40 PM

The marks made do not rub off. That can be both bad and good. As Julian pointed out, the knife is great for marking dovetails and the scored line can be made more visible by rubbing some chalk dust on the wood.

I use the marking gauge for re-sawing on the band saw. By scoring a line along the edge of the stock, it provides a visual reference for making the cut and the gauge is a lot quicker than a pencil and a combo square or other measuring device.

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View PurpLev's profile


8536 posts in 3677 days

#3 posted 04-09-2009 11:00 PM

the marking gauge works much better/easier/faster on the edge of boards (resawing/joinery marks), and the line a blade produces is much finer and easier to follow and see than a pencil line.

Julian – that’s an awesome idea for making a knife…

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

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

10548 posts in 3457 days

#4 posted 04-09-2009 11:27 PM

I like to use my pocket knife…the kind that holds a utility knife blade.
On not so fine work, I use the corner of a brick.

-- 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 dhg's profile


197 posts in 3741 days

#5 posted 04-10-2009 10:12 PM

Thanks Julian, I think I’ll try the drill bit, I know I have a couple of old bits laying in the bottom of the drill box.

-- Talent on Loan from God - Rush Limbaugh

View Ernest1's profile


21 posts in 3894 days

#6 posted 05-08-2009 08:14 PM

Gene, do you have to sharpen that brick very often?

-- I started out with nothing, and still have most of it..... Ernest 1.

View Chris Wright's profile

Chris Wright

540 posts in 3510 days

#7 posted 05-08-2009 08:33 PM

I made a marking knife useing a piece of cherry and ground the blade from an old jointer knife. The HSS holds an edge great, just don’t drop it if you have concreate floors, I had to re-grind the tip. Knives or an awl and a marking gauge are great for marking a nice sharp, clean line that won’t rub off. The only problem I’ve run into with them, and I’m sure my fellow jocks can agree, is that if you’re marking porous woods (i.e. oak), the point will have a tendency to stray and you have to go back and re-mark.

If you look at antique furniture, you can see where the builder used a marking knife or gauge to marke the dovetails and such, the scratches go the full height of the drawer side for example, if you want to build an antique replica, it adds that little extra touch, you can leave the scratchs as well as a kind of homage to the craftsman of old.

-- "At its best, life is completely unpredictable." - Christopher Walken

View dhg's profile


197 posts in 3741 days

#8 posted 08-08-2009 03:08 PM

Well after diligently using a utility knife as a marking knife for the last few months to try and answer my own question, I came to the conclusion that I wanted a real one so yesterday I made my own.

Taking Julians tip (thank you) about using a spade bit as the knife blank I came up with the knife thats below. it’s about 6 1/2” long and used a 3/8” bit. I left the square on the end to avoid rolling off the bench.

Marking Knife

Thank you all for your input.


-- Talent on Loan from God - Rush Limbaugh

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4128 days

#9 posted 08-08-2009 04:37 PM

That is a great answer to your own question!

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

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