In Shop Blog, Techniques

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I’m passionate about cooking, but I don’t get excited about cooking equipment. I’ve got decent cookware, questionable Far East knives bought from an infomercial and (somehow) enough silicone basting brushes for the whole neighborhood. Want one?

But when it comes to marking knives for woodworking, I’m tough to please. Exhibit A is over at I’ve probably had about a dozen marking knives pass through my hands during the last decade, and none has pleased me as much as the small knife from Blue Spruce Toolworks.

It’s the only knife that does everything I ask from a knife, from marking out skinny dovetails to making a coarse cutline for a crosscut handsaw. And I’ve written over and over how much I like it , perhaps to the point where you’re wondering if Dave Jeske at Blue Spruce is padding my secret account in the Cayman Islands.

So a few weeks ago, I got a small box from Steve Quehl, who runs the Woodcraft store outside Atlanta. In it was a new knife made by Bob Zajicek of Czeck Edge. It’s called the Kerf Kadet, and Steve offered to loan it to me to test in the shop.

I used it to mark out the joints on a Gustav Stickley plant stand I built last month, and today I spent some time marking out dovetails with it. And I can safely tell you that Steve is not getting this knife back. The most he can hope for is a check to reimburse him.

The knife is similar in some ways to the Blue Spruce knife, but it has some significant differences that are worth noting. The Czech Edge blade is a bit narrower (5/16″ compared to 23/64″) and shorter past the ferrule (1-5/16″ compared to 1-1/2″). With those statistics, both knives will do most standard joint-marking chores.

Where the knives differ is in the handle and ferrule (the metallic transition from the blade to the wood). The Blue Spruce uses a smooth two-piece ferrule. The Czeck Edge uses a single machined bronze ferrule with three grooves turned into it. The grooves are not decorative. When you pinch the knife at the ferrule, the grooves improve your grip on the knife. I was surprised how much I liked the feel.

The wooden part of each tool’s handle is also different. The Blue Spruce has a somewhat vase-like shape that opens up at the ferrule. When I grip the Blue Spruce, I put my fingers behind this area, which prevents my fingers from slipping off the knife when I add downward pressure.

The Czeck Edge has more of a pencil-like shape and is lighter in the hand. Both are comfortable in my hands.

How about fit and finish? It’s impossible to beat Blue Spruce on this point, but the Czeck Edge is in a tie for first place. The knife is flawless. Crisp and smooth with a perfect transition from wood to metal. It’s what you would hope for in your own work. One other nice touch: The Czeck Edge knives come with blade guards for storing the knife. And the price? It’s fair: $37.95 to $41.95 depending on the wood you select.

I’m eager to put the Czeck Edge Kerf Kadet to some more use. Lucky for me I have a shop here at the magazine and a shop at home. So I really don’t have to choose favorites.  

– Christopher Schwarz

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Showing 9 comments
  • Peggy Schneider

    I was in a class with Steve at Lonnie Bird’s school in June. I think he should send me a knife, too! Then I can compare to the Blue Spruce knife I bought (after you recommended it). I find the flare by the ferrule to be uncomfortable.

    "You are like Oprah, mention a tool and we all go out and buy it. At least we lust for it." So true, Ron!

  • Ross Manning

    Hi Chris,

    I have a Blue Spruce knife & thought it was pretty good until I bought a joinery knife from Chris Vesper (www dot vespertools dot com dot au/knives/index.htm). The handle shape is extremely comfortable and giges great control. Even better, it does not roll off the bench!Chris’s other tools are worth checking out too. I especially like his sliding bevel guages, which would have been worth including in the latest magazine article – these really work well & lock positively. (And no, I don’t work on commission from Chris, nor am I related 🙂 ) If you are buying any of his tools and have the extra cash for something special, the Black Red Gum look beautiful and is very rare – it is 10,000 year old timber that has been preserved underground before being "mined" & seasoned.

    Also, (and I should have posted under your note on squares)I have a beautiful Colen Clenton square in lace sheoak which, apart from looking great and feeling good in the hand, is unique in that it can be re-calibrated if it is ever knocked out of square.

    We have some really good toolmakers here in Australia, and it may be worth adding some reviews of these to the magazine from time to time. I know that in some cases Australian tools are available domestically in the USA – people like Terry Gordon sell their tools through some of the US specialty outlets.


  • Joe Brumley

    I totally want a silicone basting brush. You have my address so I’ll be checking the mail. Seriously thogh, that sounds like a real treat to use. I will have to seek one out.

  • Jerry Thompson

    Well….truth be known, so would I. I just had to see what kind of response that would bring. LOL

  • Christopher Schwarz


    Yup. Just like I’d pay $600 for a chair from Brian Boggs when I could make one for free from an orange crate and an ironing board. 😉


  • Jerry Thompson

    You would pay 40 bucks for a tool you can make out of an old hacksaw blade and a dowel???

  • Ron

    You are like Oprah, mention a tool and we all go out and buy it. At least we lust for it.

    Well it ain’t workin’ this time! I have control! I have a vacation to pay for!

    I think I can wait till I get back. :bawling:

    Maybe some day I can get you hooked on one of my other hobbies….

    PS: You will notice I did not say stop. :^)

  • Michael Rogen


    I have had one of the Kerf Kadets for a couple of weeks as well and I couldn’tfigure out why it felt so good in my hand. You know that my hands of trouble holding anything and the thinking has been if it was thicker it would be easier for me to grip, but that’s not the case. It wasn’t until your comments on the difference between the BS and the KK’s ferrule that it made sense as to why it was so easy to grip and use.
    I think it’s a winner.


  • dave brown

    I agree — I’ve got a Kerf Kadet and it’s a sweet little marking knife.

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