Precision saw cuts are important in hand tool woodworking. I don't think shooting every cross cut is a reasonable approach. You have to be able to saw to a line. If you want a clean saw cut, knifing all the way around is a good idea. A sharp cross cut saw will actually find the knife line and tend to stay in it (path of least resistance). Once the saw cut is complete, you can typically see the knifed line in the end grain.

This tool features a knife at one end for marking across the grain, and an awl end at the other for marking with the grain. The awl end is so thin, you can use it to mark most dovetails. My striking knife never leaves my bench. I find it helpful for all sorts of shop tasks, from pencil sharpening to glue drip slicing and even plane throat clearing!



Striking Knife $65
  • approx 8" long, 5/8" wide, 1/8" thick
  • W-1 high carbon tool steel. This is the modern equivalent of 18th c "cast steel" more or less.
My striking knife is based on an antique in my collection. I only heat treat the blade end. The awl end is left soft. This allows me to keep that end very thin, thin enough to mark most dovetails without risk of it snapping off. It's also soft enough to hone or file to shape when the tip bends over. CWF Journeyman Karre Loftheim at Colonial Williamsburg has a striking knife made by the smiths there. He filed a flat on his awl end to make a tiny knife. You could try that as well.