Yesterday I commented on my dovetail saw that didn’t cut straight, and what I did to correct matters. It’s still not a great saw. It’s not as sharp as it should be, the handle is crooked and the ergonomics are all wrong. But it is good enough for me to make some practice dovetails in some pine offcuts to learn the process.
Another tool that I bought to help with making dovetails is a marking gauge. You need this to lay out the baseline for the pins and tails. You want a crisp, sharp line so that you know exactly where to stop sawing. You should be able to use this line to accurately register the chisel when chopping out the waste.
So I bought a “Shop Fox” marking gauge. It looks just like other marking gauges. A thumbscrew to lock the slidey brass thingie in place, and a little disk on the end to score the wood fibers. I immediately realized the problem with this tool, the marking disk has a rounded edge that was at least .060″ thick at the tip. The shape of disk is a wedge in cross section, so that the deeper you mark the wider the scribed line.
I worked the back of the disk on a stone until it had a crisp edge, but it still isn’t adequate. The line is just too coarse. I scored a line with a knife and straightedge for comparison (going over a scribed line from the marking gauge) and the difference is night and day.
The Glen-Drake Tite-Mark is officially on my Christmas list now. I’m not sure if Santa thinks I’ve been a good boy (I haven’t), but I can hope.
In the meantime I’m going to mark out my baselines with a knife and rule.