A drawknife is a traditional tool used for quickly and easily shaving
strips of wood from pieces of timber. A drawknife is sometimes known
as a 'drawshave', 'draw shave' or 'pull shave'. The tool is used as
the name suggests, it is drawn towards the user over the edge of a
piece of wood, shaving the wood with each pulling action.
A drawknife consists of a blade with the cutting edge running most of the length of the blade on one side with two handles set either end, traditionally and typically with the handles pointing towards the user. There are different designs of drawknife where the handles are set in a different position to the traditional style, one of which is where the handles are set either end in line with the blade; the drawknife is like handles bars on a bike. The cutting edge of the blade points towards the user between these two handles. The dynamics of the design make it very easy to control with very low risk of injury.
A drawknife can have a straight blade or a curved blade, it can have user pointing handles, folding handles, splayed handles or handlebar handles. The most common type of drawknife has a straight blade with the handles pointing towards the user.
A typical drawknife consists of the following parts:
A drawknife can be used to shave any wood. The wood the drawknife is often used to shave is green wood. The main reason the tool is often used on green wood is because the tool is well suited to this type of wood. The combination of the tool and the type of wood allows the user to take long, clean shavings and remove stock very quickly. The use of a drawknife was and still is a quick way of preparing and shaping a log by hand. A drawknife can also be used with seasoned timber. A cautionary note: the dryer the timber, the faster the drawknife will cut. A drawknife can also be used on other softish materials and for other uses. I have heard of bookbinders using drawknives and I have also heard of a Scottish mariner using a drawknife to remove Limpets.
There have been many makers of drawknives past and present, below are a list of a few well known drawknife makers:
The first thing to do is check the drawknife is very sharp, this is
very important as a sharp tool ensures the knife cuts easily and crisply.
If the tool is blunt make sure to sharpen the drawknife as a blunt
tool will make the use of it hard going and may make a mess of the
piece of wood.
Securely set the piece of wood to be shaved so the piece of wood is stable without risk of movement. The safest and most secure ways of securing the wood is with the use of a vice or with a shave horse (sometimes known as a draw horse). The piece of wood is set length ways.
Hold the drawknife with the bevel facing down and the flat side facing up to ensure the best control of the tool. The sharp edge should be facing you.
Extend arms, lay the drawknife on the piece of wood and lightly dig the drawknife blade into the wood and then pull the drawknife towards body, shaving the wood like butter. Repeat this process until the required amount of wood has been removed.
If you wish to take thicker shavings it can be better to angle the drawknife cut. This is achieved by ensuring one hand is nearer to your body than the other as you perform each shaving action.
To make the wood smoother, make smaller shaves.
When removing lots of stock it is more efficient to quickly take lots of thinner shavings rather than to attempt making really big thick shavings.
It is usual that the piece of wood will need to be repositioned numerous times so all areas/the required areas of wood can be shaved.
* Important: please refer to the 'disclaimer' at the foot of this review.
* Wearing safety clothing and eye protection is usually a good idea to help protect against injury.
- This tool has sharp parts, take suitable precautions when using/handling/storing the tool to prevent injury.
A further cautionary note: the dryer the timber, the faster the drawknife will cut/slide.
(i) This review/article may give warning(s) / advisory notes / cautions / guidelines given
in good faith, any such information should not be solely relied upon and seen
as the exhaustive list of warnings / advisory notes / cautions / guidelines. Refer
to good safety practices for the safety of you and others. Refer to good practices
for the good health of your tool and property.
(ii) The details here are given in good faith, the details are constantly growing and evolving, there is scope for error and shouldn't be fully relied upon, please confirm any details for yourself by performing additional research from reliable sources.
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