Tools of the Trade 06 Drawknives

At every step of the work, the more you do with the previous tool the less you do with the next one… the closer you split to the size you want, the less ax work you do, the closer you get with the axe work the less you use the drawknife. and on through most of the steps toward making something.


the Bigun, 12″ edge

and yet sometimes I get caught up in one step or another and want to do ALL of the work with that tool. or just sit and do the same thing over and over again..

The drawknife is one of those. In green wood it just glides through the wood making smooth wide shavings. It seems to be calming and almost meditative…

Most of the time you will use the draw knife in conjunction with the shaving horse. Sometimes you will use it on material clamped to your workbench.

There are a lot of good, new ones available, and there are a lot of good old ones available… And there is a lot of (bad words) ones (new and old) available out there. Avoid new ones that are painted. I suspect they are hiding something and paint drags on the wood something terrible. Go with reputable dealers or MFGs (Gramercy, Stubai) or you takes your chances.ย  Old makers of note are: Pexto, D.R.Barton, Sorby, Ashley Iles, Greenlee, Wetherby.. there are many.ย  New Makers of note: Barr, Stubai, Ox Head (ochsenkopf), Lee Valley, Sorby (again), and again there are many. A new $300 draw knife isn’t necessarily better than a $60 one, but there are a lot of $30 ones that are good, and a lot of $30 ones that are junk (if I never see another cheep painted amazon one that’ll be alright ๐Ÿ˜‰ ). Choose from a tool dealer that has a reputation to uphold. they won’t sell you junk.

When using a drawknife you can pull it straight and square to you:

shaving horse mine straight

or you can skew it, pulling it straight toward you but at an angle to the work:

shaving horse mine skew

or you can slice with it, skewing the blade and traveling sideways while drawing it to yourself:

shaving horse mine slice

(direction of travel is the purple arrow)

and what does this do for you? it changes the angle of attack, or the planing angle. like this:

shaving horse mine geometry

as you can see in the illustrations the length of travel to go up the slope is shortest on the straight cut, longer on the skew, and longest travel is on the skew with slice.


Since the thickness of the blade doesn’t change, then you are effectively making the angle less and less and the edge effectively sharper and sharper. So when the wood is to tough to cut with a straight cut remember to skew and or slice with the tool to make your job easier… and don’t cut to deep either ๐Ÿ˜‰ shallow cuts make the work easier.

be well


PS if you feel that you are going to cut your belly while using a draw knife, try just holding the tool normally and pulling it to you without the wood. You will notice that your arms resist actually getting to your body. However sometimes the material slips and hits you right in the stomach or in the solar plexus… using a “bib” can prevent this from hurting much and will also make you feel safer about pulling a large sharp blade toward yourself. A bigger danger is getting relaxed and setting a foot up on something so that your knee is in range of a corner of the blade. keep your feet down and or on the foot rests.

me with my bib on.


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