A wood scribe tool is one of those obscure hand tools you didn’t know you needed until … you do. While not common in all styles of woodworking, for trimming, installing cabinets and mortise and tenon joints it’s a must have. In this article learn what styles of wood scribes are available and top wood scribes available.
When I was first learning to install cabinets one job the owner of the cabinet shop always tackled was scribing the cabinet fillers and backsplashes.
While he avoided more mundane work the scribing was a job for a perfectionist and I soon realized why he enjoyed it. But, the problem was he had decades of free-handing experience and didn’t need to use a wood scribe tool.
So learning to scribe took a lot of patience.
And while there are many wood scribes on the market a few things you’ll want to look for in the best wood scribe tool:
- Support any pencil or marker
- Trace smooth and rough surfaces
- Easy to grasp and trace
- Depth adjustment from the material edge to the scribe line
Finally, it might be that you need two wood scribes. While some scribes excel at tracing contours or “butt joints”, others are best for tracing or marking tenons or centers.
Best Wood Scribe Tools
After years of use and research on wood scribing tools, here are my recommended best wood scribe tools:
1. Trend UE/SCRIBE FLat Surface Wood scribe TOol
One of the most common uses for a wood scribe is to transpose the curves of a wall or floor to a cabinet, floor piece or trim.
And the Trend U/E is a master at this that features:
- Compact design
- Replaceable leads with easy adjustment
- Flat back for tracing
2. Profiler+ Rough Surface Wood Scribing Tool
The Profiler+ is one of the few wood scribe tools that can trace both smooth and jagged edges. With this dual capability you can easily scribe smooth surfaces like walls for installing cabinet fillers and then switch over to jagged edge fireplace tracing and fitting.
- Excels at rough outline tracing
- Easy to adjust
- Only scribe with easy glide wheels integrated for smooth outline tracing
- Accepts standard sized pencils and some markers
3. FastCap Accuscribe - BUdget Scribing TOol
This modern twist on a classic compass design is yet another innovative product from FastCap. Because it features an articulating arm and flat-sided, non-rocking straight edge it’s built to do traditional and custom wood scribing. And it’s one of the few that can still draw custom size circles.
- Doubles as a scribe and compass
- Accepts standard size pencils and small markers
- Easy to adjust for standard butt-joint scribes
- Flexible for outside edge or tracing applications
4. Perfect Butt Wood Scribe Tool
Sometimes simple is best.
And the Perfect Butt (aside from perhaps it’s name) achieves simple with a bare-bones simple design concept: just pick the right size wheel and have a sharp pencil inserted.
Where does this tool pay for itself? If you’ve installed counters you know scribing the back splash or edges to a wall is a challenge – and the design of this wood scribe makes it an easy-to-use option.
This is a great pick-up for any cabinet installation or carpenter’s toolbox.
5. Center Scribe for Fast Marking
If your projects involve marking the centers on an edge of wood (furniture backs, stair railings, ends of dimensional lumber, slats) then this nifty jig will quickly and accurately give you a center line to work from.
6. Newkiton Wheel Marking Wood Scribe
For scribing mortises and tenons, etching a clean mark on the edge of a shelve or any other precision wood edge task this Newkiton is a smooth performer. What doesn’t it do? Well, this style of wood scribe isn’t designed to transpose surfaces like the Profiler+. Which helps you now see why owning two wood scribes is a must.
What is a Wood Scribe Tool?
A wood scribe let’s you trace the edge of one surface and make a mark or indent on the surface of a piece of wood. Some wood scribes support markers and pencils while other wood scribes have a custom tip that makes a small cut in the wood. Popular uses of a scribe include cabinet joinery, marking cabinet fillers against a wall or tracing counter backsplashes.
Hopefully this guide helped you compare the variety of wood scribe tools on the market. But while one scribe might not fit all your needs, any combination of the top 3 should fit your woodworking needs.