Blue Spruce Marking Knife & Awl

Exceptional tools - well designed and superbly made


Blue Spruce Marking Knife & Awl

The Blue Spruce marking knife fits the hand like a high quality writing instrument and scores a precise, clean line with minimal effort. At 6-3/8" long and only .670" diameter, it fits easily into a shop apron (A larger version, in two different handle styles, is also available). The nicely shaped handle is available in a choice of cocobolo, African blackwood or curly maple. The business end of the knife is a spear shaped blade, .031" thick (a .020" blade is also available), 1/4" wide, and 1" long, held in place by two brass ferrules. The tip of the blade has a 65° angle, while the blade bevel is 30°.

The marking knife is very easy to use. It's beveled on one side only to fit flat against a straight edge and can be used either right or left handed. I found it more efficient to tilt the knife so that it's cutting at about a 45° angle with the tip of the blade. Take a look at the difference in thickness between the pencil line and the line cut by the Blue Spruce (photo at left). Notice how clean and crisp the knife line is, compared to the pencil line. The marking knife cuts the wood fibers, providing a micro channel that your chisel or saw can register against. You can actually feel the chisel settle into the scored line made by the marking knife, and the resulting impression will be right on the mark. This similar principle works the same way when you saw a scored line - the saw doesn't start the cut, the marking knife does; the saw follows the scored line.
If you cut a lot of dovetails you'll really like the thin blade on the Blue Spruce. It'll fit easily between the tightest tails you can cut. The Blue Spruce came sharp and ready to use. I would imagine that at some time it will have to be honed again - but only after quite a few miles of marking. No problem though. Even though the bevels are pretty narrow, if you take your time you can hone them on a waterstone. I tried it using slow, steady strokes and it honed beautifully. 


The Blue Spruce marking knife did a very good job of scoring across end grain. However for those of you who prefer a scratch awl for this job, Dave makes both small and large awls. The small awl has a 4-1/4" cocobolo handle and a 2" blade. I like a finer point on the end of the awl; a judicial application of fine sandpaper did the trick.
Pricing is very reasonable on these tools: $45US for the small marking knife ($55US for a larger version); $35US for the small awl, or $75US for the set. There is no doubt that using finely crafted hand tools makes woodworking even more enjoyable than it already is. According to Jeske, Blue Spruce Toolworks was founded "to provide high quality hand tools to the discerning craftsman who appreciates using a finely crafted tool". Right on the mark Dave!


  • 6-3/8" long (small version)
  • 031" thick x 1/4" wide blade
  • 65° angle tip with a 30° bevel
Manufacturer:Blue Spruce Toolworks
Available From:online
Retail Price:$45 (knife); $35 (awl) 
Made In:USA
Carl Duguay, April 2009 
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