Pencil or Scribe - What do you use to Mark Your Cut Lines?

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Forum topic by hjt posted 02-19-2016 03:39 AM 2385 views 0 times favorited 29 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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906 posts in 3907 days

02-19-2016 03:39 AM

Topic tags/keywords: pencil scribe marking

I was in my humble workshop making more saw dust then project. I needed to make a rabbet cut that removed only 3/16 of an inch. I got my dad’s 1959 combination square and marked my line with a pencil. Grabbed my router and began. When done, I was more then a little ticked off to find the cut was much greater then 3/16.

This was cause by the pencil line being so far off the square.

Not having a Scribe I used a box cutter to score the wood and routed with much more accuracy.

What do you use to mark your cuts?

Do you use a scrib or something other then a pencil ONLY when accuracy is needed or do you use a pencil regardless and just know better then me how to make this wood working stuff work??

-- Harold

29 replies so far

View waho6o9's profile


8906 posts in 3346 days

#1 posted 02-19-2016 03:50 AM

First I’d use a test piece and then check it and I use brass bars that are in 1/4 1/2 dimensions etc

123 blocks are useful as well.

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8906 posts in 3346 days

#2 posted 02-19-2016 03:54 AM

and for scribing Simple Scribe is the bees knees

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2859 posts in 1668 days

#3 posted 02-19-2016 04:05 AM

Pencil. Keep it freshly sharpened for critical lines, then when making the cut decide whether to leave the line split it or take it depending on where the line laid as you marked it.

View GerryB's profile


70 posts in 3351 days

#4 posted 02-19-2016 04:09 AM

I use plain key stodck from the auto parts store. Ii is not expensive & close enough for what I dc.

-- The pursuit of excellence is gratifying and healthy. The pursuit of perfection is frustrating, neurotic, and a terrible waste of time. Edwin Bliss

View bbasiaga's profile


1243 posts in 2764 days

#5 posted 02-19-2016 04:10 AM

I like a mechanical pencil. But my brother just made me a marking knife. So I’m going to try that out. I’ve been watching Paul Sellers online…sometimes only one or the other will do.


-- Part of engineering is to know when to put your calculator down and pick up your tools.

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244 posts in 1701 days

#6 posted 02-19-2016 04:13 AM

Well sharpened pencil, I need better glasses to see the mark of a scribe.

-- PJ

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1304 posts in 3659 days

#7 posted 02-19-2016 04:49 AM

Marking knife, n fill the knife line with .3mm HB lead for old eyes.

-- Sawdust and shavings are therapeutic

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25877 posts in 3452 days

#8 posted 02-19-2016 05:07 AM

Pencil lines work just fine for me. The combo square I use has a notch on the end for the pencil to ride in ( actually, it is the groove the head rides on) I also use a marking gauge. On some fancy cuts, I will cut a knife wall. Merely to help guide a saw cut.

Just depends. I even have a “Boston” pencil sharpener mounted on a bench in the shop. Saves running back upstairs to the “good” sharpener ( Boston KS). Both will get a needle like point on a #2 pencil.

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

View Robert's profile


3738 posts in 2250 days

#9 posted 02-19-2016 12:23 PM

For a xgrain rabbet I score with a marking gauge or a marking knife and square; for a lengthwise rabbet just a marking gauge.

I will often delineate the score line with a sharp pencil in the case of dovetails or mortise and tenons.

The main point to your question is don’t try to do it all in one cut, but rather sneak up on it.

Why are you marking a line anyway? With a router or TS it is mostly a matter of setup and doing a test cut first.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View bigblockyeti's profile


6575 posts in 2490 days

#10 posted 02-19-2016 12:40 PM

I use a #2 pencil, the level of precision required is always a function of how sharp the pencil is. If at/near the table saw where I do much of my marking, I’m always within arms reach of a pencil sharpener. In fact I’ve thought of installing one in the end of the extrusion of my Unifence.

-- "Lack of effort will result in failure with amazing predictability" - Me

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2901 posts in 3284 days

#11 posted 02-19-2016 01:01 PM

I’ve always used #2 pencils, and have an old school style sharpener with the spiral wheel cutter. I sharpen OFTEN. Also, I almost never sand off a pencil mark if it is part of a layout and won’t be cut. I use one of those large pink rubber erasers to get it off, not sandpaper.

I have tried mechanical pencils, but for some reason after breaking the lead off 5-6 times, they find themselves bouncing off the wall.

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

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4449 posts in 2746 days

#12 posted 02-19-2016 01:29 PM

I use both. For my pencil lines I use a .05 mechanical pencil. For greater accuracy such as marking for hinges and rabbets, I use a box cutter knife. Works great and to sharpen, just change the blade. I still always do a test cut on scrap wood just to be sure.

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

View Jeff2016's profile


115 posts in 1633 days

#13 posted 02-19-2016 01:37 PM

+1 for a good sharp pencil here too. I also tend to mark a tiny x to tell myself where to place the blade if I am laying out more than one cut. It’s only a reminder, but if I want to “split the line, the x is centered on the line. Other wise I know to leave the line and cut off the x. It’s a habit I started years ago running a cut table for a framing crew after getting grouched at that I cut the wrong side of the line.

-- Proud owner of an electronics free workshop. Please check your cell phone at the door!

View bearkatwood's profile


1823 posts in 1781 days

#14 posted 02-19-2016 01:48 PM

For a rabbet or rebate I would use a cutting gauge to scribe the line, for a dado or housing I would scribe a line. Pencils work great for layout, but when it comes to the handwork the scribe or gauge seems to works more accurately for me. Good clip to watch if you are having troubles.

-- Brian Noel

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10859 posts in 2255 days

#15 posted 02-19-2016 02:07 PM

Marking gauge would be perfect for a rabbet for me.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

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