The drawknife is among the most useful and versatile
tools in boatbuilding and general woodwork, but is also
frightening, because it can behave like a power tool and
get the beginner into a lot of trouble very quickly.
Overcoming that trouble, however, is merely a matter of
sharpening the tool and learning to read the grain of
As my stones live their life out on the bench where they
belong for daily use, they are filthy from saw and metal
dust and need cleaning. A simple stiff parts-cleaning
brush and a pan of kerosene does the trick. I’ll relube
them generously with cutting oil as I use them.
Then I simply mount my
stones on a board extended from the Workmate so the drawknife’s
handles have clearance, and clamp everything down firmly.
The blade back is flattened first, using coarse and fine stones…
the single most important phase of sharpening… do it thoroughly.
Handle clearance is critical because sharpening is best done
with both hands holding the blade… not holding the handles… and
close to the stone for better feel.
This drawknife is an
ancient family piece from Granddad made by Braun in
“Schweig”…Switzerland… the blade has about half its original
depth, one tang has a silver braze repair and these are the
third set of handles I am aware of. I suspect my
Great-grandfather brought it with him when he immigrated.
It’s the only one I own… or need, as it still works just dandy.
The blade bevel is 20 degrees… we’ll hone that next and
add another 5 degrees or so of secondary bevel.