First Draw Knife - A Simple Experiment

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Blog entry by Doug posted 01-02-2022 10:37 PM 531 reads 0 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch


Man, I can’t believe another year has gone by! It seems like it was just yesterday that I bought this old rusty draw knife.

The Front

But, it was last summer that I paid $3 for this beat up thing at a local flea market.

The Back

For $3 I took a chance and thought to myself, If it doesn’t work out, it’s only $3. We’ll see!

The Handles

So, with tool in hand, I headed to the shop to begin the adventure of trying to make this thing useable again.

The Maker’s Mark

As I often do with “restorations” like this I got out the old sand paper, combined with a bit of elbow grease (which I had evidently run out of because my elbow was sore after this) and began to remove as much of the rust as I could.

The Maker’s Mark (After removing some rust)

Now, you notice, that I didn’t get all the rust off. I would typically do this with a wire wheel on a bench grinder. However, I did not have access to my bench grinder. So I did the best I could with the sand paper.

Using Sand Paper

It took a while but I was able to get almost all the rust removed.

The Rust Removed

Now, I’d like to tell you that I got this thing all cleaned up and put to use right away. But that’s not the case. No, instead, I set it aside because other things took priority and quite frankly, I wasn’t sure how to continue with it.

It eventually got mixed in with some other things and put in storage. Until a couple of days ago.

For some reason, that made itself evident, I brought it back to the house. I thought, Since I’m on vacation, I will see if I can get this sharpened and try to use it.

This was very timely because I had recently read a blog post by Mads Felding (MaFe) in which in he was doing some work with his draw knife.

He was very helpful in answering some questions I had about draw knives and provided me with some much needed information. With this new information, I was inspired to get out my draw knife and really work to get it back in shape.

Speaking of backs, that’s the first thing I had to work on. I began by using my newly purchased Trend 300/1000 grit diamond plate.

Working the Back

I did the best I could to get it as flat as I could. You can see that I probably need to do more work.

Flattened Back

Now I turn my attention to the edge of the draw knife. Here I used a Norton Medium India Stone to work the edge.

Working the Edge

Using the stone in a circular motion, I moved back and forth from one end of the edge to the other – being sure to remove the burr on the back side. I was also very careful to not roll the knife’s edge from the back side. One source of information informed me that doing so would render the tool absolutely useless.

Once I had finished doing everything I thought needed to be done to make the draw knife usable, I put it to the test.

No, I did not perform the KEAL test, nor did I perform the antler chop test. I did, however, perform the cut test.

If you would like to see it in action, click here.

I don’t have anything to compare this to, so I don’t know if this draw knife performed well or not. The test I performed did not cause any rolling or chipping on the edge. As you can see from the video, I had to work a bit. I did try to apply the skew method as I pulled the knife across the material. I would say that over all, “It will cut”.

Because I’m so new at using this tool, I could use all the help I can get. Thanks again Mads for your willingness to provide some very valuable resources.

If you use a draw knife regularly, please point out things that I can do better.

Also, what’s the best way to protect the edge?

That’s all for now. Thanks for your time.

Take care.

-- Doug

6 comments so far

View mafe's profile


13647 posts in 4420 days

#1 posted 01-02-2022 11:03 PM

Hi Doug,
You did an excellent job there, bringing it back to life!
Also you now have a new tool in the box, that you can reach for, or bring out into nature.
I love my drawknifes, they are such intuitive tools and you quickly get the hang of it, I could see you already became friends.
Next up you will need a better hold.
To use the knife properly, you need to be able to pull evenly from both sides, so you want to cut towards you, not sideways as you do in the video.
You can do this in many ways, drill a hole in the table, put a string trough and push down with your foot. Use the end vise of the workbench or even better a shaving horse or just a pony, or shaving leg, as they are also called.
This can be made fast and easy, are easy to bring and will be a game changer, when using a drawknife.
Here an easy way to make a protective sheath:
Enjoyed to see your work there and the explanation.
Thank you a lot for your kind words.
Best of my thoughts to you my friend,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect.

View Doug's profile


1275 posts in 4092 days

#2 posted 01-02-2022 11:49 PM

I looked at each of those posts and made sure that I bookmarked them so that I can get to them quickly. I know what my next few projects will be now. Thank you.

-- Doug

View Oldtool's profile


3400 posts in 3521 days

#3 posted 01-03-2022 09:59 AM

Super nice recovery of this tool, great work.

-- "I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The point is to bring them the real facts." - Abraham Lincoln

View Ocelot's profile


3713 posts in 3969 days

#4 posted 01-03-2022 06:31 PM

There’s a chairmaker (Curtis Buchanan) that does a lot with drawknives and has some videos on preparing them. One thing he does is hollow grind the back. That makes it easier to maintain, like a Japanese chisel.

His video is here.

Grinding the back starts at about 4:35 on the video.

While he does it with the “corner” of bench grinder,I have done it with the “end” of a belt sander. Maybe not pretty or traditional, but it works. It is, of course, ok for the back to be flat too.

-- I intended to be a woodworker, but turned into a tool and lumber collector.

View Doug's profile


1275 posts in 4092 days

#5 posted 01-03-2022 11:03 PM

Oldtool, thanks. I had my doubts about it’s revival. Thankful to have it.

Ocelot, I discovered Mr. Buchanan’s YouTube channel some time ago and he is a real master craftsman. I’m going to watch his videos about draw knives again. Thank you.

-- Doug

View mafe's profile


13647 posts in 4420 days

#6 posted 01-04-2022 03:56 PM

Smiles Doug. ;-)

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect.

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