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Tips from Old Millrat - James D. Thompson


 
 

Dovetail Marking Knives

 

Recently there was a discussion on the OldTools list about making a pair of dovetail marking knives. They were made as opposites so that they could easily mark both sides of the cut.

I have some high speed steel saw blades that I acquired a long time ago, and I thought it would be a good idea to make the knives with high speed steel blades.

Here is a picture of a complete blade and the pieces I cut from another one.

 
 

So how did I cut the high speed steel? I used a die grinder with a thin abrasive cutting wheel mounted on a die grinder. I am fortunate in that I own both electric and air powered die grinders, and both are industrial quality. But you can do this with a Dremel tool as well. It is just a little slower.

I have some desert ironwood that I thought would make nice handles, so that is what I used. I ripped a piece of 3/4” square stock, 5” long, in half to make the 2 scales. I used a chisel to cut a shallow groove for the blade to fit into, then epoxied the scales together.

The angle of the blade will depend on how small you want to cut your dovetails. I made my blades 3/8” wide.

Next is one of the 2 knives, roughly shaped and epoxied together.

I used files and sandpaper to finish the handles.

I considered turning fancy handles, but I decided that round handles were probably not correct for this purpose. I chose function over form this time. I considered using some L/N knife rivets, but I haven’t decided whether they need any ornamentation. Rivets would definitely look cool here. After thinking about it, I decided to go with rivets. It needs that little touch to look right.

Make the handles to fit your hand. My hands are pretty big, so the handles are sized proportionately.

James D. Thompson
June, 2008

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