Making a Long-Blade Marking Knife

A couple of years ago while working on a chair, I found myself needing to lay out the position of the seat slats on the centre rail, which was basically a cross-lap joint. Normally, I’d use my marking knife for this operation, but due to the thickness of the components, my marking knife wasn’t able to reach.

So I grabbed an old chisel and quickly ground a spear point on the end to make my marks, then proceeded to complete the project.

Recently, Canadian Woodworking & Home Improvement hosted a hand tool build-off on their forum called Building Together: Hand Tools. I decided to make a long-bladed marking knife to complement my two short marking knives (shown on left of photo).

Marking Knives

I think that at some point, somebody used the chisel with a steel hammer without a handle in the socket, so the inside taper had a lip. Since I wanted a handle for the marking knife, I started by filing the taper smooth.

Filing Taper

I lapped the back on my 120-grit diamond stone, which was my coarsest.

Lapping Back

I applied blue layout fluid to the back of the knife and used my regular woodworking tools to lay out the shape of the knife point.

Layout

With my bench grinder’s tool rest at 90 degrees, I ground the profile of the knife. Then, I tilted the tool rest and ground the bevels.

Grinding Profile

I selected a piece of dogwood with interesting grain and mounted it on the lathe.

Blank Ready to Turn

I turned a taper on the end, and test-fit it frequently with the knife socket.  By rotating the handle in the socket, I was able to see where it was rubbing.  I removed those parts and kept checking the fit until the parts mated well.

I used an existing handle for shaping inspiration.

Shaping HandleI shaped the handle and sanded it up to 180-grit on the lathe. At this point, I used a hand saw to cut off the handle and hand-sanded the end.

Parting-Off Handle

I applied a coat of oil to bring out the grain.

Finished Handle

To complete the knife, I removed tarnish from the blade with a Rust Eraser, lapped the back of the blade to 600-grit, and ground the bevels flat (mostly for aesthetic reasons).  I finished sharpening the knife with a leather strop charged with honing compound.

Long Marking Knife

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How to Perfectly Assemble Mitre Joints

In my last Craftsy blog post, I covered techniques to cut perfect mitres. If you’ve ever made a mitred joint before, you probably discovered that cutting them accurately can be finicky, but assembling them was downright agonizing.

However, with a couple of tricks and the right clamping tools on hand, and some practice, assembling mitres can be a smooth and stressless process. I also describe various fixes for common cosmetic problems where the two parts meet.

Read Frame-Worthy Work: How to Perfectly Assemble Miter Joints on the Craftsy blog.

How to Assemble Perfect Mitre Joints

Sadly, this is my final article for Craftsy, as they have decided to abandon woodworking indefinitely. I will still, of course, be posting regularly here on my blog. Have you subscribed yet?

Cut Perfect Mitre Joints

Early on, I regarded mitre joints as difficult and finicky, so I often used other joinery that I could execute more easily (even dovetails) instead. But once I figured out a good process for making mitre joints, I found them to be no more difficult than other joinery, and certainly quicker than dovetails!

My latest article for the Craftsy blog explains the steps that I take to cut perfect mitre joints, as well as things to watch for that can cause you problems.

Read Cut Perfect Miter Joints in 3 Steps on the Craftsy blog.

Craftsy - Cut Perfect Mitre Joints

A Relaxing Day Off on Canada Day

Today, I’m doing whatever I please
so I set up my horses under the trees.

My workpiece is happy, content in the shade –
these perfect conditions I wouldn’t dare trade.

Finish goes on easily. I’m in no rush;
I make slow, deliberate strokes with my brush.

The urethane flows nicely and quickly dries
before it bears witness to footprints of flies.

I’m almost done now and the sun is quite near
so I clean up my brush, then head for a beer.

Build-Off: Canadian Woodworking’s Hand Tool Building Event

Ever since the Shop Stool Build-Off, woodworkers everywhere have been looking for more opportunities to participate in online group builds. Canadian Woodworking recently announced their second build-off called, Building Together – Shop Tools.

I’ve made a number of tools for my own shop, and this scrub plane could well be the most-used.

Yellow birch and Lignum vitae scrub plane

Yellow birch and Lignum vitae scrub plane

The event runs for the duration of August and is open to everyone – you just need to share your project on the magazine’s forum. Currently, prizes are being organized. Check out their website to get full details and inspiration for shop tools you can build.

Roots of Flair: Pushing the Limits

In 2007, I was into turning in a big way. I got into turning pens using exotic woods carefully paired with a package of pen hardware. My preference was chrome-plated hardware for its durability and affordable price. The result, when paired with African Blackwood, was an undeniably classy pen.

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Black & Chrome pen

One special piece of wood was often inspiration enough to turn a pen. For this lead holder, I used a piece of bocote which was half heartwood and half sapwood.

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Bocote Lead Holder

Eventually, I began playing with different shapes and materials. I particularly liked the shape of the lower barrel of this European pen, and liked the bold colour and pattern of this acetate.

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Black & Blue pen

However, I eventually grew tired of working with stock pen kits, I opened all of my pen kit hardware and threw the parts into a big jar and I was free to mix and match parts.

In an attempt to see how short of a pen I could create that was still comfortable to use, I created this Micro-Ebony pen. It was exhilarating cutting the Cross refill shorter and shorter, hoping that I wouldn’t hit ink. I never did. The streaky African ebony offered a sophisticated look and a strong contrast to the chrome hardware.

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Micro Ebony pen

I’ve made all sorts of pens, but eventually grew tired of turning pens, which are fairly limiting in form. I have always done my best work when pushing the limits, and turning pens had too many constraints. The other reason I stopped making pens was that I had way more pens than I needed.

In that spirit, I am listing the four writing instruments shown above for sale.

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Finishing Puzzle Table

After routing the jigsaw puzzle design, I made a base out of four mitred lengths of black walnut to raise the table up off the ground. That way, it didn’t just look like a cube sitting on the ground.

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Then came finishing. Let’s just say that it required some patience to get an even coat of finish on the edges of each of the 169 puzzle pieces.

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After the finish dried, I set it up for some studio photographs. This one shot captured the essence of the table pretty well, I thought.

Jigsaw Puzzle Table1

Find all the details for Jigsaw Puzzle Table on the product page.

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Shop Stools, Revisited on Craftsy.com

It’s official! I’m now a contributor to the Craftsy woodworking blog.

My first article, fittingly, is about shop stools. In the article, I discuss some basic principles that make a good shop stool, then provide some practical ideas backed up by photos from the Shop Stool Build-Off.

Read the article on the Craftsy Woodworking Blog.

Craftsy Blog

Routing the Puzzle Pieces for Puzzle Table

After gluing up the four sides, my next step was to rout in the puzzle pieces.

I used three combination squares referenced off of each edge to lay out a grid, which represented the size and location of the puzzle pieces.

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Pencil can be difficult to see on black walnut, but I found that roughing up the planed surface with 120-grit sandpaper made the lines easier to see.

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I routed the jigsaw puzzle design with a 1/8″ spiral bit, doing one line at a time.

Puzzle Table12 It was very gratifying to see one surface completed.

Puzzle Table13

Next, I rolled the cube and continued routing puzzle pieces into the other faces.

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