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    Simple Tip for Accurate Joinery Marks

    What's the most accurate way to mark up a workpiece for joinery? No doubt there are many valid techniques out there but the one I recently saw period furnituremaker Philip C. Lowe using is worth writing about. Heck, I'd even say it's the best technique--in my humble opinion.

    Lowe often marks all of his joinery--tenon shoulders, mortise walls, etc, using a marking knife and combination square. This differs a bit from the technique most novice or intermediate woodworkers use--marking out joinery with a pencil and square, then going back to scribe in knife lines after-the-fact. In fact, it seems more efficient to me. If you're planning on making crisp scribe lines with a marking knife (this helps to avoid blowout and tearout when cutting joinery along the scribe), you might as well begin there. Why introduce a pencil into the mix?

    Bringing the Square to the Knife

    Measure and Mark

    Lowe first makes his measurement and marks it with a tick mark. Noticing how I'm using my marking knife to make a notch in the corner of my workpiece. Make the notch heavy enough so that it's easy to find.

    Find the Notch

    Next, he sets his square aside and slides his knife along the corner of his workpiece until it finds the notch he made in step 1. Here', I've found the notch and I'm resting the knife's blade in it.

    Scribe Your Line

    Only now does he slide the combination square into place, butting it up against the marking knife, which is resting comfortably in his tick mark. Now's the time to scribe the line.

    The key to this simple technique lay in resting the knife in the tick mark and bringing the square to the knife.It's a lot easier to scribe an accurate line this way--as opposed to struggling to accurately align the square to the tick mark, and then bringing the knife onto the scene.

    This tip might seem super-simple, but it's a gem for sure.