The Perfect Marking Knife, at Last!
The perfect knife for me, anyway. That’s because I helped design it (how cool is that?). Last week, while teaching hand tool skills at Peters Valley craft center, I had the great fortune to meet Sam Salvati, the assistant blacksmith. Sam is a young, passionate blacksmith and a fantastic knife maker who mixes a rustic hand forged style with razor sharp edges. While looking at one of his creations, I asked if he might be interested in making a marking knife.
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I had tried a lot of different styles over the years; double bevel, single bevel, spear point, x-acto. All of them had shortcomings of some type. I always went back to my first purchase, a simple chip carving knife. It wasn’t mere sentimentality, I finally realized, but the geometry of the blade that had won me over. The secret to the great results I get with that knife is its triangular cross-section. That feature allows me to lay the blade flat against the workpiece I’m scribing for an accurate line no matter which side of the blade I use.
I thought it would be really cool to combine that blade profile with the heft and quality of one of Sam’s knives. Also, there’s something special about using a handmade tool to do hand work. Especially when you know the person who made it.
Engineering the Perfect Knife
Sam stopped by the wood studio one evening and I explained what I was looking for. He showed up at lunch the next day with four different designs he had worked up the night before. Trying them out, I realized another important feature of the chip carving knife- its rounded nose. The blunt profile increases the blade height near the tip making it easier to register against the workpiece, especially in tight places like when scribing dovetails. Armed with this information, Sam headed back to the forge returning that evening with two finished knives, one that matched the original profile and one with a wider blade.
Both designs are fantastic and it will be a while before I decide which I prefer more. One thing is for sure, I will find a reason to hold onto both. They are finely crafted tools that fit the way I work and embody the soul of its maker. Between them I have the perfect marking knife and they will add to the pleasure and quality of my work every time I pick one up. Thanks Sam.
Beautiful and functional. These hand-forged knives combine great looks and balance with the perfect blade profile.
The triangular cross-section of the blade allows you to lay it flat against the work for a tight scribe line.
Sam is the man. I worked with Blacksmith Sam Salvati to create these knives. I helped out with the design, but he did all the hard work.
The hands of a blacksmith.