Marking knives and box

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Project by Dave Polaschek posted 11-11-2017 01:32 AM 1592 views 1 time favorited 24 comments Add to Favorites Watch

For the 2017 knife swap, I set out to make a nice pair of marking knives. I started with the spear-point marking knives from Ron Hock Tools, which come in ¼ and ¾ inch wide. For the smaller, I practiced by making my Practice marking knife and the one for real was made in much the same way. Sandwich the blade with two pieces of 1/4” thick wood, and then sandwich that with two pieces of wood running the other way.

The wood for the handles came from a slab of Apple from a tree I took down in my yard four years ago. A friend cut it into slabs with a chainsaw, and then I broke it down from there using hand tools. Once all the pieces of wood were glued up, I used a .308 cartridge as a ferrule, and the a .50BMG cartridge around that. The finished diameter of the knife was about 2/3 inch, so that worked out pretty well.

The gap between the two cartridges (a few hundredths) got filled by a mix of CA glue and brass filings. I figured it looked like glitter, so I started referring to my project as a glitter-encrusted prison shank.

The second marking knife was simpler construction. Two pieces of apple epoxied onto the blade, and then held fast with brass rivets. The only problem was that the heads of the rivets were too hard to form to the knife, so on my practice knife, I had to saw them off and try again. A friend suggested they might be work-hardened, and I should try annealing them. So I bought a MAP gas torch which did the trick. Much easier to mushroom the heads of the rivets so they conformed better to the curve of the wood after they had been annealed.

Both knives were finished with four coats of a two pound cut of orange shellac, sanding lightly between the coats. I liked the way it highlighted the color of the brass, but I noticed some boogers underneath the shellac, so I had to strip it all down and re-shellac the smaller knife.

The box is pine, with a hand-resawn poplar bottom, soft maple tools rests, and a hand-resawn bookmatched white-oak lid that slides in grooves I cut with my new combination plane. The box corners are rabbeted, glued, and nailed with 6d cut nails. There are a couple brads holding in the tool rests since I ran out of clamps while building the box.

I laser-engraved the end of the box for HunterDS and then finished the box with a few coats of BLO. Hope you get many years of use out of them, bud!

-- Dave - Santa Fe

24 comments so far

View jeffswildwood's profile


4483 posts in 2780 days

#1 posted 11-11-2017 01:41 AM

Very nice Dave. I like the brass shell. Thanks for taking part in the swap!

-- We all make mistakes, the trick is to fix it in a way that says "I meant to do that".

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

5634 posts in 1385 days

#2 posted 11-11-2017 01:44 AM

Thanks for running it, Jeff! I learned a bunch of new skills along the way and had a load of fun.

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View HunterDS's profile


48 posts in 1303 days

#3 posted 11-11-2017 02:08 AM

To see somebody making a tool I will have for a life time really is cool. I enjoy that my tools have a real story and soul to them.

-- Hunter, Houston TX

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

5634 posts in 1385 days

#4 posted 11-11-2017 02:12 AM

Use them well, Hunter! I’m starting to learn dovetails too. Going to try to do a dovetail a day beginning on thanksgiving and running to the first of the year.

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View GR8HUNTER's profile


7648 posts in 1515 days

#5 posted 11-11-2017 02:15 AM

IM loving the nice box these beautiful set of knifes came in …GREAT JOB :<))

-- Tony---- Reinholds,Pa.------ REMEMBER TO ALWAYS HAVE FUN

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

5634 posts in 1385 days

#6 posted 11-11-2017 02:51 AM

Thanks, Tony. It’s a simple box, but the poplar in the bottom had real nice grain, and I’m very happy with how the sliding lid came out. One of the tricks I figured out was prepping all of the pine sides at once so I didn’t have to worry about irregularities.

I planed both sides and both ends to the same size all at once, and it made all the rest of the assembly a bunch simpler.

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View HokieKen's profile


14501 posts in 1941 days

#7 posted 11-11-2017 02:56 AM

Nice work bud. You know though, a few power tools could have cut your time in half ;-)

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

5634 posts in 1385 days

#8 posted 11-11-2017 03:03 AM

Thing is, I’m not sure that’s the case, Kenny. There were a lot of days when I spent more time thinking than doing. Like resawing the oak or poplar were both things I did while I was trying to figure out some other problem along the way, so the time spent on that was “free.” That might not be the case if I were more experienced, but I’m enjoying the trip, so what the heck.

But thanks!

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View doubleDD's profile


9532 posts in 2846 days

#9 posted 11-11-2017 03:48 AM

Fine work Dave on the box and the knives. If you enjoy learning new techniques with lumber then you will have a lot of enjoyment in the future. I have many slider boxes in the shop. They hold lots of miscellaneous things for power tools.
So the pine box is where you end up after someone uses the prison shank on ya? Haha

-- Dave, Downers Grove, Il. -------- When you run out of ideas, start building your dreams.

View KelleyCrafts's profile


4240 posts in 1542 days

#10 posted 11-11-2017 05:32 AM

Great showing Dave. This is a good set for sure. You’ll enjoy the dovetail a day. That’s how I learned. Worked out really well.

-- Dave - - pen blanks - knife scales - turning tools

View bobasaurus's profile


3644 posts in 3987 days

#11 posted 11-11-2017 06:11 AM

That’s a unique take on marking knives, good job. I like the handmade rivets.

-- Allen, Colorado (Instagram @bobasaurus_woodworking)

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

5634 posts in 1385 days

#12 posted 11-11-2017 11:47 AM

Thanks, Daves and Allen.

The slider box was a nice challenge, and a perfect thing to tackle after getting my new combination plane. I wish I’d made it from something nicer than pine, but my scrap bin is running a little low.

As for the handmade rivets, that’s not a new skill. I learned to hand-rivet in shop class back in eighth grade, but I think these were the first rivets I’d done since the 1970s. It was fun re-learning that!

Maybe it’s just me, but I like having a skinny marking knife that I hold almost like a pencil, and the small one reflects that. I find it very useful in the shop, and the bigger one gets used for marking coarse cuts, or in some cases, scoring thin material enough that I hardly have to cut it at all. I find them a useful pair, and hope Hunter will, too.

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 3669 days

#13 posted 11-11-2017 12:25 PM

These are beautiful marking knives and a fine box to hold them.

elluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

5634 posts in 1385 days

#14 posted 11-11-2017 12:56 PM

Thanks, Charles!

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View doubleG469's profile


949 posts in 1247 days

#15 posted 11-11-2017 02:26 PM

Exceptional work as usual Dave, but then again I see this quality with all your items. Great Job

-- I refuse to edit the photo orientation for this website any longer. It’s an issue they should address and correct. Gary, Texas

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