When it comes to marking knives, less is more

When it comes to marking knives, less is more

There are a few ways too mark a line on a piece of wood. The most obvious is a pencil, but the graphite can smudge, the line width varies with the thickness of the lead and wood loves to break the point. A Stanley knife is a valuable and versatile tool, but the body is clunky, and the blade a bit short if you are trying to mark off a template or piece of wood, say.

A scalpel is ridiculously sharp as many a maker’s bandaged fingers can attest, but even that has its limits. Firstly, the blade is attached to a body that is thicker than the blade which means that you cannot always align the body to your ruler, template or block, and secondly they are typically bevelled on both sides! Now that might be fine if all you’re doing is cutting someone up to fix a spleen or whatever, but it’s rubbish if you want to score a decent reference line to plane to!

By miles the best solution time and again is a Japanese marking knife, with the bevel on one side. There is no separate body, so nothing to lose, break or come loose, but more importantly nothing to get in the way. And having a flat side at the pointy end means that it’ll line up perfectly with your reference surface.

No discrepancy, no divergence, no wobble, and one less excuse for not making a damn fine stab (ha!) at a good piece of furniture.

Until  next time,



David established Rowden Atelier in 1995, a now world renowned fine woodworking school. Discover Rowden, the woodworking courses, and the work that students go on to do.

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