How to Choose and Sharpen a Drawknife? A Complete Guide

How to Choose and Sharpen a Drawknife?

Here at Knifepulse, we talks about everything knives. You may be thinking of hunting knives, cooking knives, or maybe even combat knives. But today, we’re going to look at something quite different. Today, we’re going to look at drawknives.

Drawknives are one of the mainstay tools of woodworking. If you’re into this craft, you probably have one of these by now. They are super useful and make woodworking a lot easier.

If you don’t have a drawknife, or if you’ve never heard of it, now is the time to learn! Today, I’m going to give you a complete guide to drawknives. I’ll cover everything from what drawknives are to how to properly sharpen them.

There’s something for everyone, from beginners to experts, here. So without further adieu, let’s get started.

What are Drawknives?

What goes to your mind when you hear the word “knife”? For most of us, we picture a straight blade attached to a handle. Most of our knives look like this anyway.

But if we look at the definition of a knife, it says “an instrument composed of a blade fixed into a handle, used for cutting or as a weapon.” That’s why there are some knives that look quite odd. These aren’t the knives that enter our heads when we think of the word “knife”.

One of these oddities is the drawknife. Some will think that this woodworking tool isn’t a knife, but it is. It has everything that goes into making a knife.

Drawknives have a sharp blade that is fixed to not one, but two handles on either side. Most drawknives have vertical handles, while the blade is horizontal. While others are completely straight.

These tools are used for shaving off strips of wood. To do this, the knife is drawn towards the user, that’s where the tool gets its name. Drawknives make it super easy, fast, and safe to shave off the wood.

Because of their design, you can also opt to push the drawknife away from yourself. Either way, this tool is one of the best when it comes to shaving wood.

What are Drawknives Used For?

What are Drawknives Used For?

So we know that drawknives are for woodworking, but what exactly do they do? How are they different from the other tools? And why do you need a drawknife if you’re going to get into woodworking?

The main advantage of the drawknife is how wide its blade is. Most other woodworking knives are quite small. Using these small knives on big blocks of wood will take forever.

If you want to remove bark from a tree, a drawknife is the best tool for this. If you want to get timber to the right size, nothing does this faster than a drawknife. If you want to straighten edges, drawknives are also a great way to remove these imperfections.

With a drawknife, you can make quick work of all these tasks and more. You can also easily control how deep you want to carve. This is because drawknives are single-bevelled. You can use the flat side or the bevel side depending on how deep you want to carve.

It does take some skills to use a drawknife to its full potential. But with a little practice, a drawknife will make your woodworking so much easier and better.

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How to Choose a Drawknife

Not all drawknives were made equal. There are certain qualities that make a great drawknife. It is these that you should be looking for when you buy a drawknife.

When you are looking for a drawknife, make sure you consider the:

1. Quality

Quality is super important in drawknives. This is because of what these knives are used for. A lot of times, you’ll need to carve off hardwoods.

If you get a low-quality drawknife, it won’t stand up to this task. The blade may break, or the handles may get detached.

A high-quality drawknife will never let you down. No matter what you throw at it, it will stand strong.

2. Length

Another very important thing to check is the length of your drawknife. Some drawknives are very long, while others are quite short. The length will make a big impact on your woodworking.

There is no correct length for drawknives. It all depends on what you are working on.

A wider drawknife will help you get bigger projects done fast. But if you are dealing with small intricacies in woodworking, a wide one will slow you down instead. On the flip-side, a short drawknife won’t help you with big carving jobs but work perfectly for smaller ones.

That’s why you should keep your purpose in mind when choosing the length of your drawknife.

3. Curve

Some drawknives are straight, while others are curved. This begs the question, what is the difference?

There is a difference, but let me just say it isn’t all that significant. Both straight and curved drawknives work perfectly fine. You won’t run into any problems whichever you choose.

That said, a curved drawknife will help you “scoop” out more wood. If you are going for curved designs, this will also help you get there easier.

Straight drawknives, on the other hand, are better for removing bark. You can skin a tree in no time with one of these.

Again, they can be used interchangeably. So it isn’t a big concern.

4. Feel

One of the most critical points when choosing a drawknife is how it feels in your hand. You want to get the most comfortable drawknife there is.

If your drawknife isn’t comfortable, carving wood will be a tedious task. You may even find blisters forming on your hands.

That’s why to go for one that feels good in your hands. With this, you can shave off so much wood without feeling any discomfort.

My Recommended Drawknives

With those guidelines in mind, you should end up with a good drawknife. But if you’re still confused as to what to get, let me help you.

Here are three great drawknives that I recommend you check out for yourself.


1. Flexcut 5in. Drawknife

Sale
FLEXCUT 5 inch Draw Knife, High Carbon Steel Blade, Ergonomic Ash Handle, Leather Sheath Included (KN16)
  • 5 inches of workable edge
  • Flexible blade conforms to projects as needed
  • Two ergonomic ash hardwood handles provide solid...
  • Comes with sturdy leather sheath
  • Made in the USA

Last update on 2020-10-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Pros
  • Flexible blade
  • Beautiful ash hardwood handles
  • Comes with sheath
Cons
  • Not the most sturdy

If you’re looking for a short drawknife, I recommend the Flexcut 5in. drawknife. As you can tell by the name, this has 5 inches of blade to work with. This allows you to get some detailed carving done.

Not only is the blade short, but it is also flexible. This quality allows you to curve and bend whatever way you want. That’s why with this drawknife, you can get some awesome designs on your woodwork.

The knife itself, with its ashwood handles, also looks beautiful. The only problem is that it isn’t heavy-duty. The handles are beautiful, but when used roughly, they may fall off.

Once you’re finished using your drawknife, you can keep it nice and safe in its sheath. Flexcuts 5in. drawknife comes with a sheath as well. This keeps the blade clean and sharp when you aren’t using it.

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2. Ox-Head 10in. Drawknife

Ox-Head 10' x 1-3/8' Straight Drawknife, OX3752500
163 Reviews
Ox-Head 10" x 1-3/8" Straight Drawknife, OX3752500
  • Made in Germany from special quality tool steel
  • Cutting edges finely polished for the best cutting...
  • Ergonomically-shaped riveted hardwood handles
  • The tangs extend fully through the handles, for a...
  • Used to debark logs plus other more specialized...

Last update on 2020-10-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Pros
  • High-quality build
  • Full tangs
  • Removes wood fast
Cons
  • Expensive

For everyone looking for a longer drawknife, I recommend Ox-Heads 10 inch drawknife. Its total length is 10 inches, with 8 inches of blade for carving. This allows you to shave off a lot of wood fast.

The great thing about Ox-Head’s drawknife is how well built it is. Its quality is easy to see and feel. You can cut through a lot of wood without worrying about anything.

It is also super sturdy. Like all good knives, this drawknife has full tangs on both of its handles. This allows you to use this drawknife for the toughest jobs you have.

The only downside of this knife is its price. Compared to others, it costs a lot more. But if you’re looking for a high-quality drawknife, you’ll find that this is well worth the price.

Read More Customer Reviews on Amazon


3. Timber Tuff TMB-08DS

Timber Tuff TMB-08DS Straight Draw Shave Tool, 8"
  • Sharp 8” straight blade, 5 mm thick with a 30°...
  • Designed with a long-lasting and durable steel...
  • Wood grip handles are comfortable and provide you...
  • Easily shaves wood from logs, wood, fence posts,...
  • Ideal for building furniture; 1 year limited...

Last update on 2020-10-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Pros
  • 30-degree angle handles
  • Comfortable feel
  • Affordable
Cons
  • Needs sharpening

Timber Tuff’s TMB-08DS is another long drawknife. Its blade also measures 8 inches, which gives you a lot of blade to use. It is another drawknife that can make quick work of large pieces of wood.

What sets this drawknife apart is its 30-degree angled handles. This design makes it easier for you to pull the knife towards yourself. In some situations, you’ll also find that it makes carving simpler as well.

This angle also makes it comfortable for your hands. This plus Timber Tuff’s wood grip handles makes holding it so pleasant. Your hands won’t feel tired, even when you use it a lot.

This is also a very affordable drawknife. If you’re just getting into woodworking, you don’t want to spend so much on a drawknife. You don’t yet know if you want to commit that much. That’s why this is the perfect drawknife for beginners.

The only problem with this drawknife is that it loses its edge faster than others. You’ll have to sharpen it every now and then. Which brings us to our next point.

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How to Sharpen Drawknives?

How to Sharpen Drawknives

Like all knives, a good drawknife is a sharp drawknife. Without razor-sharpness, drawknives are not only ineffective but they are dangerous as well.

The good news is that sharpening drawknives is very easy. I’d even say that it is easier than sharpening a kitchen knife. All you need is to know how it is done.

There are several ways to do this. The best and simplest way to do this is to use a good old sharpening stone. With this, you can sharpen your drawknives in 4 simple steps.

Step 1: Secure drawknife

Before you start sharpening, you need to keep your drawknife in a secure position. You need it to be on a position that doesn’t move around as you work on the blade.

The easiest way to do this is to lodge one end against a wall or table while pressing the other end against your body. This will stabilize the blade and allow you to work on the edge.

Step 2: Sharpen bevel side

One characteristic of drawknives is that they have quite a big bevel. It only takes one glance to find the bevel side. It is this side that you want to work on first.

To do this, all you have to do is rub your sharpening stone against it. Because the bevel is so big, finding the right angle is a breeze. You can lay your stone flat on the bevel and rub it back and forth to sharpen.

After a few strokes, feel for a burr on the other side, the flat side. This is a technique I use for all of my knives. Once you feel a burr, you know that your drawknife is already sharp.

Step 3: Sharpen flat side

Once you’re done with the bevel side, you can move on to the flat side. Since this side is flat, you don’t have to worry about angles at all.

All you have to do is lay the stone flat on the blade and rub along. As always, feel for a burr to know when you are done.

Step 4: Polish

Since the burr is quite big, you’ll find a lot of scratches on it after sharpening. To get rid of this, all you need to do is a little polishing.

Polishing your drawknife is the same as sharpening it, only this time you use a finer stone. And if you want to go even further, you can also use strops. This will remove scratches and give your drawknife a wonderful shiny look.

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Conclusion

Drawknives, one of the most specialized types of knives there is. Not everyone is going to get into woodworking it’s true. Yet knowing about this knife, what they are, how to choose one, and how to sharpen one, is all invaluable knowledge.

By now, you should know all you need to know about the wonderful world of drawknives!

Ahmed

I’m Ahmed, the guy behind Knifepulse.com. I’ve owned several types of knives and sharpeners over the last few years and have become obsessed with everything to do with knives. I’m always trying to improve my cleaning and sharpening process, and always on the hunt for the next best knife. But when I’m not spending time with my hobby, I’m here, writing about Knives and Sharpeners on KnifePulse to share with you what I learn along the way.

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