Crown’s Right-Handed Marking Knife has the low price, high quality, and practicality that I love to see in hand tools. Getting all three of those in one tool is increasingly rare.
Crown Hand Tools, Ltd., of Sheffield, England, makes this knife — it’s a simple and extremely useful woodworker’s knife that is still a favorite among craftsmen who set their standards high. If the mark of a carpenter’s pencil is close enough for you, you’ll have no need of this tool. If you’re the sort who likes to split that pencil line in half with the saw, this knife will open the door to much tighter standards.
Although it’s a simple tool — a full tang bar of steel with a straight edge ground at about 45 degrees — there’s nothing carelessly made about this rosewood-handled marking knife. The blade is a single beveled edge with a very fine point. Keep that point sharp and you can run the flat of the blade along a try square and mark a line perfectly straight and so thin you can only see the shadow in the cut if the light’s just right. A hundredth of a inch is pretty coarse compared to it.
With a heavier hand, you can cut a guiding line deep enough to start a wood chisel with perfect accuracy. If you use Japanese tenon saws, this sharply cut starting line guides one row of the saw’s teeth so there’s no skipping and marring of the wood on the “keeping” side. Anyone who works with inlays will use this knife to cleanly cut the veneer, fitting the pieces in place with no visible gaps.
If you haven’t used one before, just try it out. Suddenly your work gets a lot better.
If you’re interested in a modernized traditional hand tool that pairs up very well with the marking knife, see the Dovetail Saw from Shark.