A Drawknife for Pulling

A drawknife is a hand woodworking tool often used in green woodworking. An open bladed knife with side handles, having the same purpose as a spokeshave, which is to shave or pare wood to either a flat, concave or convex shape.

Hence they are made flat or shaped and traditionally used to de-bark trees or to prepare wood to a roughly cylindrical shape for refining on a lathe.

The largest and I've got to add, the only one I've used had an 11" blade, which was much too big for my liking. The smallest I've come across was 3", however they can be made to any size. Some are provided with protective leather coverings or have fold away handles, protecting the blade and hands too when not in use.

Robert Sorby and Mora have the best steel quality, followed by Crown and Flexcut, however along with these you will find other makes slightly cheaper by following this link to drawknives

drawknife and sheath

The Operation

A log or branch would have been fastened to a shaving horse on which the operator sat. He would begin shaving at the centre of the timber, pulling the drawknife towards himself, the timber being reversed for the remaining half.

With the honed edge of the knife to the timber, a fine cut can be made, whereas the opposite side tends to dig into the wood and you may take off more than you intended. It does though have the benefit of removing large splinters by a digging in, prizing, cutting motion.

The operation for finer wood shaving is to gently lower the blade to bite into the wood, then controle the depth by lowering or raising the blade angle.

Uses of the Cutter

I'm presuming that it was women, who, during the Second World War made 50 million tent pegs with their drawknives and if I estimate 20 pegs to a tent, that's 2,500,000 tents, I again presume for our homeless.

Timber roofing shingles are fine tuned by the knife after the wood, most often Cedar because of its preservative qualities, have been split by wedges.

And Donald Bradman the cricketer, may have stroked his boundaries to the pavilion with his drawknife shaped bat.

I can bet too that Robin Hood with a forest at his mercy, shaped many a bow and arrow with this Richard Green tool.


Modern Drawknife Tradesmen

Renovators shape 'age' into beams, lintols, mouldings, floor joists and cladding.

A cooper or barrel maker smooths the timbers, often oak, after the timber has been roughly cut with an adze.

Chair and table craftsmen use the tool to shape chair arms, backs and legs, not as frequently now though because of the machinery widely used today.

Here's a project but not for the faint hearted, wood turbine blades to provide us with sustainable power.

Tip to finish. Blades of drawknives requiring repeated sharpening are deemed to be too soft and require hardening by heating to red hot, then immersing in cold water to harden and cool.

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