Canadian Woodworking

Union Manufacturing dovetail markers & saddle square


These stainless steel tools from the Union Manufacturing Company are the perfect size and weight for precision layout work.

Author: Carl Duguay

To lay out consistently accurate dovetails, nothing beats a dovetail marker. For finger joints and square lines on small stock a saddle square does a better job than a try square.

These exceptionally well made stainless steel tools from the Union Manufacturing Company are the perfect size and weight for precision layout work.

Manufacturer: Union Mfg.
Item: Dovetail markers and saddle square
Price: $30.15 each or $107.10 for all 4
Dovetail angles: 1:8 (7°), 1:7 (8°), 1:6 (9.5°)
Saddle square: 90°
Size: 13/64″ thick, 1″ wide (at head), 2″ long
Weight: Approximately 2-1/2 ounces
Material: stainless steel
Made in: USA

Using a dovetail marker to lay out your tails simplifies the dovetailing process, particularly for beginners. You don’t have to bother setting up angles with a sliding T-bevel or protractor and the edges of your tails are going to be laid out perfectly square. The Union Mfg. markers are about the best money can buy.  They come in the 3 angles that most woodworkers will find useful: 1:8 (7°), 1:7 (8°) and 1:6 (9.5°). Don’t get caught up in the debate over which ratio you should use – use the one that looks best for you.

The markers are CNC machined from solid stainless steel – they look great and are wonderful to use. Treat them with respect and they’ll last a lifetime.

union dovetail guides

Once you’ve marked out the position of the dovetails, hook one of these babies over the end of the tail board and, using a pencil or marking knife, you can quickly scribe a perfectly square line across the end grain and a sloped line down the face grain. The inside of the markers are purposely designed to be grippy in texture making them less likely to shift or slide in use. What I like about steel over aluminum or brass is that you won’t damage the markers if you scribe with a marking knife.

union dovetail guides

The saddle square is not just for laying out cut lines for box joints. I find it makes a great counterpart to my 6″ try square especially when working on small stock, for example marking out cut lines for tenons. You can mark cut lines up to 2″ long. I also use it for confirming that the edge of a chisel is square after sharpening and for checking that the table saw blade and router bits are square to the table top. It’s thick enough to grip easily yet light enough to store in a shop apron or pant pocket.

union dovetail guides


At just over $30 for any of these accessories you can’t go wrong. And Until December 10, 2023, you’ll save 10% on Union Manufacturing tools at Lee Valley.

Last modified: December 3, 2023

Carl Duguay - [email protected]

Carl is a Victoria-based furniture maker and the web editor at Canadian Woodworking & Home Improvement.

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