Make a Marking Knife

Recently I’ve caught the hand cut joinery bug.  You probably know that I’ve been practicing my dovetails and completed my first project, a dovetailed keepsake box.  I had a lot of fun with that build but it was clear to me that I was under-tooled.  I needed a marking knife.

I decided to try and make my own.  I’m not a frugal guy by any means.  I could just purchased one but I thought I’d challenge myself and see with I could come up with.  The end result is pretty good, has a unique look and works really well.

I started with a high speed steel jig saw blade and ground off the teeth and formed one end into a point at my disc sander.

Next I grabbed a scrap of walnut and turned a quick handle.  Nothing special here.  It’s about 6″ long and seems like a fancy pencil or pen when you hold it.

Next I took the blade over to my WorkSharp 3000 to hone the bevel and flatten the blade.  I was surprised to see that the jig saw blade had a series of curves in it, like a serpentine.

With the blade prepared, I cut a kerf into it to accept the blade and used a two part epoxy to attach the blade.  Once the epoxy had cured I scraped any squeeze out off the knife and wrapped it with bailer’s twine in stead of using a traditional brass or bronze ferrel.  I did that because I didn’t have a ferrel on hand.  I’ve seen other people use twine so I figured that I’d be good to go.  I wrapped the twine around the knife and secured it with CA glue.

With the CA glue dry it was time for a finish, Danish oil.

Dovetailed Keepsake Box

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If you’ve been following my posts or videos lately you know that I’ve been working on hand cut dovetails.  Well, this project is the reason for all the practice.  I wanted to make a nice keepsake box with a sliding lid.

Here is the build video:

This is probably the first small piece I’ve ever made.  Typically I work with large stock to make large pieces of furniture.  I found that there are completely different challenges in working with smaller pieces of stock and there seems to be a lot less room for error.  Meaning that correcting mistakes is much more difficult when you don’t have a lot of real estate to work with.

Screen Shot 2016-02-15 at 12.20.43 PMI started as you start any project by preparing the stock.  This stock was resawn from a piece of walnut.  I used a No. 4 plane to clean up the bandsaw cut marks, then I cut the stock to length.  With that done it was time to start cutting the dovetails.

I picked up a 12″ dovetail/small tenon saw from Bad Axe Toolworks at WIA last year and I’ve been chomping at the bit to make a project with it so I was happy to get to use that to cut the dovetails.  I used a coping saw to remove most of the waste between the tails and pins then used a chisel to get down to my scribe lines.  Screen Shot 2016-02-15 at 12.21.30 PMI did have to do a bit of paring to get the joints to fit but surprisingly not as much as I thought I’d need to.  The joints fit relatively well off the saw.  Of course I’m new to hand cutting dovetails so I did have some gaps that I needed to repair.  I did this by smearing some glue into the gaps and sanding over them forcing sawdust into the gaps.  This worked well but if you look closely you can tell the gaps have been filled.

With the box assembled it was time to work on the lid.  It slides in dados that I routed out when I routed the dados for the bottom of the box.  This means I needed to cut rabbets on the sides of the lid to fit into the dados.  This was easily accomplished on my table saw.  Next I used my block plane to fine tune the fit of the lid in the dados.

InsteScreen Shot 2016-02-15 at 12.23.47 PMad of sanding the box I planed it with my No. 4 smoother.  I had to be careful though.  I couldn’t plane the
whole way across the box for fear of tearing out the back edge.  So I had to plane approximately half way across the box, turn it around and plane half way across from the other side.  This worked out well.  I used my block plane to work the end grain on the maple lid.

Screen Shot 2016-02-15 at 12.24.52 PM


With everything fitting nicely it was time for finish.  I chose to go with three coats of Watco’s Danish Oil for this piece.