Razor-fine layout lines
Learn the basics first
•: Sharpen your knives on a fine-grit stone or sandpaper by simply pressing the bevel against the surface and dragging back and forth a few times. Remove the burr from the flat side by making a couple of passes on the abrasive. It won't take long to put a keen edge on the knife.
•: You don't need to score deeply, just enough that a chisel or handsaw will seat in the kerf. With coarse-grained woods, such as oak or ash, the marking knife might follow the grain rather than your straightedge. To avoid this, make the first scoring pass lightly, and follow with successively greater pressure, deepening the kerf.
Here are some examples of when a keen marking knife will leave a pencil looking dull.
A mortise-and-tenon joint requires a precise fit to be strong and attractive. To lay out a mortise, as shown on the table legs above right, first mark the mortise sides with a marking gauge. Next, mark the top and bottom of the mortise with a marking knife and a square. Once you've got a mortise located on one table leg, use it to lay out the mortise ends for the other legs. Simply clamp the legs together and grab a square to transfer the lines. You can also use your marking gauge or knife to mark the shoulders for the tenons on the mating workpieces.
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