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Blue Spruce Toolworks – Awesome

Power tools have been the focus of my woodworking until approximately a year ago when I began enjoying the use of hand tools. Watching The Hand Tool School I realized that there was great value in the use of a marking knife over a pencil especially as you move into the use of hand tools. Browsing internet sites I came across Blue Spruce Toolworks frequently and realized that Shannon Rogers and others were using knives from Dave Jeske. After much contemplation I place an order which arrived a few days later. The knife is a work of art. The tiger maple and design of the knife are an inspiration and the knife is used on every project. If you have not made the transition to a marking knife go now. This was before Christopher Schwarz wrote his recent article about the knives.

A week ago I watched this knife roll across my bench and in agonizing slow motion teeter on the edge and dive blade first onto the hard concrete! I could do nothing since I had my saw till in one hand and saw in the other. The knife appeared OK but in use the blade had a slight wiggle. After a fall like that I probably would have broken an ankle. Not to overstate my emotions, but I felt a curtain of darkness drop. That knife was the first step into what has become an awesome journey into hand tool woodworking. I emailed Dave Jeske asking if the knife could be repaired and if he could smooth one side to prevent my stupidity. The next day I mailed it to Oregon and four days later a package arrived containing a box.


Beautifully wrapped was a marking knife and even better it had a flat spot carefully placed on the side. If you own one of these little beauties you will know how I felt. I searched the package and the box for a bill, there was none! Dave thank you for the excellent service, beautiful tool and small custom change. You are awesome! and If you think you will get away without getting paid… There’s a tool order on the way.

  1. December 24, 2012 at 5:06 am

    Wow, nice story and Blue Spruce tools sounds great. I was wondering about what you said about using a marking knife instead of a pencil: I work mainly with hand tools and always use pencils, as you can rub out pencil marks and reapply them if you’ve made a mistake. The cut a marking knife makes seems so ‘definitive’. What do you see as the advantage of using a knife?

  2. December 24, 2012 at 7:10 pm

    Thanks for stopping in. I use a pencil quite often, particularly when I am laying out my joints and for the same reason you mention, the eraser. When I get ready to cut, I always mark with a knife which I sum up in two words Accuracy and Registration.

    For example square the end of a board using a marking knife and square. Place the square against your reference edge and scribe a line across the board ligthly at first, then a couple of heavier strokes. Make sure you angle the blade upwards at the corners leaving a mark on the corner. Turn the board and register the knife in the corner mark and bring the square to your knife (the knife should have one flat side that should be against the square). Mark the edge. Scribe the other edge by registering the chisel in the mark and repeat, turn the board over and register the knife in the mark and scribe across. If you are dead on the knife will end up in the registration on the other side. The key is to register your knife in the cut which you can feel and hear once you do it you will be surprised at how accurate it is.

    Use the knife to mark out a line for a saw cut. You have now pre cut the grain which will allow for a much cleaner cut with less tear out and potential to chip particularly in wood such as oak. It will improve even more if you use a chisel to pare up to the line then use the knife face as a saw guide. I can not find the video I wanted to show you and will keep looking but try these sites. You can also google why use a woodworking marking knife.


    If you were down the street I would stop by or invite you over and show you.

  3. December 25, 2012 at 9:52 am

    thanks for the information! Now you mention it, I do use a knife for marking in certain instances, like when I’m marking an inlay channel on the guitar. I use the knife to mark the edges and then chisel out the inside. As you mentioned with your sawing technique, this creates a cleaner cut and reduces tear out and chipping

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