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There are many high-quality marking knives on the market. Some have plastic handles, others come with wood chips, and a third type is just a simple thin piece of steel that has been ground to an arrowhead geometry. I recently found another option: a kit consisting of a blade and two brass pins that allow you to create your own handle by choosing and forming scales to your liking and then gluing them onto the blade.
Building your own custom marking knife is a fun project that I’m sure will interest many, including those who already have a marking knife.
I took my blade from Taylor ToolWorks who imports high quality blades from Mikov, a legendary knife company from the Czech Republic. Taylor carries some models that vary in blade thickness and tip geometry. The knife that I decided to “scale” has an arrowhead geometry preceded by two grooves to allow a comfortable interlocking of the fingers.
Like many carpenters, I too have a huge supply of scrap pieces, including many pieces of fine wood that I have saved for future projects. One of them, a strip of mahogany, was a bit wider than the blade, which made it the perfect butt for making the new scales.
Use the “Knife wall” technique to cut the scales to size. With a square and a marking knife, mark on the piece. Then hold a chisel at an angle to the wood and scrape off a thin sliver of fibers to the right (or left) of the scored line. Put a saw in this trench and saw.
Planing the stairs
To successfully plan these fine scales and eliminate saw marks, I made a miniature planing stop from a wide nail.
Drill the balance
Fasten the first ladder to the blade and use the holes provided as a drilling template. Drill the two holes with a ”size drill bit.
Remove the first ladder and attach the second to the blade with a clamp, then drill the remaining two holes.
Glue the scales
Clean the steel blade with alcohol or acetone to remove any oil residue.
Mix some epoxy and spread it on the scale (or the blade), whichever is more comfortable for you to handle.
Place the scale and the blade on a piece of corrugated cardboard. Spread some adhesive over the pins and carefully guide them into the holes (be sure to push them through and into the cardboard). Lift the knife and fix it along the scale.
Next time I will show you how I finished this project.
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