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Thread: Is it worth having a draw knife?

  1. #1

    Is it worth having a draw knife?

    Hi guys. Happy 4th!
    I just read an old issue of FWW that said a drawknife is a really useful tool for hogging off material and doing general rough shaping. They make it sound like a handy all-around tool.
    1. If you have one, do you use it much or does it hang in your cabinet?
    2. What do you you use yours to do?
    3. What size do you find helpful?
    4. Are they hard to sharpen? (I ask because I see that LN offers a Galbert Drawsharp tool.)
    5. If I decided to buy new (Im "iffy" and may go with used), what are good sources?

    I build small furniture, chairs, tables, boxes, etc.

    I'd appreciate your thoughts and experiences.

    Thank you.
    "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."
    - Sir Edmund Burke

  2. #2
    Usually a bunch on eBay. The long blade kind are more plentiful than small ones. Good to have two or three of different

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Bellevue, WA
    I recently was given one (well, there was a trade) that was in fairly poor shape, including no handles. I cleaned it up some, cleaned the cutting areas of the blade by first using my belt sander clammed in a vice, then on to the diamond plates (put them on a piece of 4x4 to raise them high enough to allow easy sharpening). Came out good enough to use. Oh, added handles using some pieces of dowels.
    Then did some playing around with it to see how it cut and what I had to learn and still fix up. What really surprised me was how nice a surface I could get; with care up there with using a plane. Of course it will hog off material.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    DuBois, PA
    Usually an easy (and inexpensive)antique mall find, takes a bit of practice to get acceptable results, and you need to pay attention to work holding methods. I have several, but only my smallest (4") gets used. Experiment with bevel up and down, as each method has uses. You can quickly round a piece with practice (most of my use is knocking corners before turning long stock).
    If the thunder don't get you, the lightning will.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
    San Francisco, CA
    I have 2, a straight 10" Greenlee and a slightly curved 8" Ohio Tool Company that came with chamfer guides. I use the 10" for rougher work (hogging, de barking, etc.), while the 8" gets used for work requiring more finesse (rounding, chamfering, etc.), finishing up with spokeshaves. I don't use either every day but they do earn their space in my shop. I built a shave horse to better utilize them, but stock in a vice works fine. There's definitely a learning curve but many excellent videos are available on YouTube, especially those of Curtis Buchanan and Brian Boggs. I don't have Galbert's Drawsharp as sharpening is relatively easy with hand held stones. I got mine used, one on eBay the other at an estate sale. As others have stated, used ones are plentiful at reasonable costs; reliable sources include Sandy at Sydnas Sloot and Patrick Leach. If you do go new, I'd opt for Barr Tools. They're not very useful for smaller stuff unless you get the very short blade length. You'll like it for chair work, but if you go that route you'll eventually want to compliment it with a scorp. Hope this helps.

  6. #6
    Thanks everyone! There's lots of good advice here that helps me.
    "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."
    - Sir Edmund Burke

  7. #7
    I have a 10Ē ancient Dr. Barton. I pretty much only use it for roughing stock into a roundish shape before mounting on my pole lathe. Thatís really the only way to do it that isnít slow as molasses. Iíve used it for other purposes before, but since Iím always using seasoned wood itís mainly limited to acking like a giant spokeshave. If you use green wood though, you can use it for other porposes. A shavehorse would make my life easier, at the cost of real estate, but for many things you can just clamp your stock in a vice and have at it. There are also tricks using large loop of rope through a dog hole and then pressing down with your foot, but I find clamping easier.

    For sharpening Iíve found nothing works better than my Sharpal Buddyguard field knife sharpener, and then I strop it.

    10Ē is good for non-critical stuff. If I were making chairs or something I would prefer a smaller 8Ē and maybe even a 6Ē for the control.

  8. #8
    I have two. One a straight blade and the other the LN Boggs curved blade, which I prefer. I used one a great deal back in the Woodstock days skinning bark for log homes. Today I am a fair hand with a spoke shave. Brain Boggs did an excellent training video for LN on them. Just a couple years ago I finally built the Boggs Shaving Horse shown in the 12/99 issue of FWW. I kept that issue all those years. The quality of the SS work is directly proportional to the method of holding the work...and sharpening. The shaving horse made a great deal of difference.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    South Coastal Massachusetts
    I may be bucking the trend, but I prefer shorter saws and drawknives. I like the Pfiel " Carver's" drawknife.

    It works (and handles) like a spokeshave.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Longview WA
    Blog Entries
    A drawknife is good for removing a lot of material quickly. One can learn to control a drawknife to remove less material.

    During my days on a horse ranch we used them for knocking the bark off of saplings to make fence rails. We called them pole peelers. Just like many other tools, different trades will likely have different names for the same tool.

    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Newburgh, Indiana
    I have several and they are my favorite tool to use. I also have a Galbert Draw Sharp. My experience with the draw sharp is the draw knife has to be in really good condition before the Draw Sharp helps. Best to build a shaving horse if you are going to use a draw knife extensively, but then again, I make windsor chairs. Do some research, there are bevel up and bevel down draw knives used for different purposes. Fun to use.
    Life's too short to use old sandpaper.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Edmonton, Alberta
    If you had asked me this 2 months ago, I’d say I have two and never use them. A couple months ago I built a Windsor chair at Peter Galberts workshop, and now I’d say they are absolutely essential. A sharp drawknife used with correct technique can hog off material, and also make very fine detail cuts. They are most useful when cutting along the grain, on straight grained woods. However if you mostly do cabinet based woodworking (anything other than Windsor chairmaking really) I’d say you don’t really need one.

  13. #13
    I have one. I don't use much but when I do. I will rush for it. It is very good for rough removal and even shaping for fitting. I don't see much use for a cabinet maker. But for the rest like log building, ship builders or even chair making a drawknife is essential as
    it makes the work easier and at times possible. If you are into panels then it is really of little use. Except edge removal.

  14. #14
    I think for making spindles (either carved or turned). They are great.

    They perform best on riven wood, and on wood that splits easy like oak. This allows you to peel long layers off efficiently.

    They are tricky to sharpen and require some feel to use successfully, but itís worth it if you make chairs.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    I have a couple. One is a blacksmith made antique with an interesting profile to the blade. Instead of one side flat and one beveled, both sides are curved, like the edge of a Katana. It makes a good bark peeler. The other is a factory made Lakeside knife I picked up this spring. It has an edge like a straight razor and is a good precursor to a spoke shave.
    Sharp solves all manner of problems.

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