I remember reading somewhere a long time ago that keeping your practice pieces will confirm the progress you have made. And I find this is true. Below is a photograph of my practice “bucket”, plus some of the more recent results of my hand-cut dovetail journey, with focus on very small joinery for very small boxes:
To me, it is fundamental to always keep the grain aligned, such that it flows seamlessly around the corners:
I don’t care much for the round marking gauges, such as the Tite-Mark and all its incarnations. Enter the Marketplace in St Charles, during the Woodworking in America Conference. I bought the 4-inch Hamilton marking gauge – it is sold exclusively by di legno Woodshop Supply:
It takes but a few minutes’ practice to learn to hold the gauge properly, and it soon becomes second nature:
For years I used the Stanley 92 butt marking gauge, because it cuts a beautiful line – but more and more it felt awkward to use it on thin boards. It felt like it was trying to “rock” on the edge of the work piece:
Summary: Both gauges cut beautifully. But the Hamilton gauge gives much better tactile feedback; I can “feel” when the gauge is truly square to the face of the board, even with very thin work pieces. Maybe it is because the fence is considerably wider than the face on the older Stanley; maybe it is due to its much lighter weight. But I now mark with much more confidence.
With this part of a process resolved, I really must concentrate on not cutting beyond that line.