Drawknives, especially ones that are capable of carving graceful
curves, haven't had any respect in about 2500 years.
Without them there would be no grand wooden staircases or
commanding figureheads. No elegant archways or fine
Don't you think its about time for a little
appreciation, I ask you...
Hello Brothers and Sisters... I know I am
behind on other projects. Sometimes a guy just needs a quickie. Today I finished up a knife. Drawknife
that is. It was forlorn and mostly unloved. For who
knows how long?
From the style and forging, I am going to guess
sometime before 1860 and maybe even the 1820-30's.
It could have been made anytime of course.
There is hardly a maker's stamp. There is only a W and a
number. The guy I got it from thought maybe Winsted Edge
Works, pre-Witherby, but I suspect that to be wishful thinking.
But its the forging. This was not the
maker's first rodeo! This is expert work. Every line
and shape controlled by a master. The blade is less than
an inch wide and around 5/16" thick but only in the center. It
was forged tapered, front and back behind the bevel, so when its
worked bevel down, a very tight curve can be followed.
Most all drawknives have a single bevel and in
deep curves, even bevel down, the back of the blade will hang
you up. This one won't. But like I said, it was
forlorn and forgotten. $5 on eBay with 22 million people
wandering by. Here she was when I met her. A generous 10"
blade with even more generous tangs out each side.
Handles were always something of an
afterthought. Short and plain with the tangs simply
pounded over plain wood. The remaining original handle was
cracked. The second handle, the replacement, was the tip
of a shovel handle drilled and jammed on.
I loved it at first sight. Even mangled by idiots
through the years, and used at least a few times as a froe
judging by the hammer marks on the black of the blade, there was
still plenty there to see, if you cared to look.
First order of business was grinding. I
had to see if the back of the blade could be leveled again at
all, before even caring how much would have to be removed to
form an even bevel. And it wanted a Lot!!! Amateurs had dug into the, once beautifully flat
back with who know what assortment of grinders. And mostly right
in the middle!
Why do they always do that? Go right to center
stage and hog in to make sure you have to remove a mountain of
steel before you can get back? If they can't bother to
learn how to sharpen a tool, why don't they just leave it alone?
I used my big vise and big angle grinder to
grind the steel back into shape. Not hand tools I know,
and actually pretty slow to do. I do not have a proper
large forge and anvil and am not expert enough to reshape a
knife this size by hand.
My small forging equipment can do a
knife or other small tool. But a tool this large requires large
But I-can-grind. I have spent years teaching
myself and made every possible mistake over and over. As far as
I can tell this is the only way to learn to grind steel in a
meaningful way. I have read what others have to say and I have
tried to help others all through my education at this craft. Nothing really works until you just give up and work.
Jigs and plans and what you thought was good
technique goes right into the crapper as soon as you begin to
grind in earnest. You will never make a jig good enough. No
fancy wheel or anything you can buy for money will help you
You determine to learn. You will think you are
never going to get it. You will burn the steel and burn
your fingers and burn holes in the thickest gloves. Neatly
removed skin from the entire top of a knuckle is kind of
slow to heal...
You will think its impossible, throw up your
hands and give up. You will come back and try it again.
And again. When you see the work of masters you will know
that it -is-possible,... and if they can do it, by God, you
Couple of rough tips for grinding with an angle
grinder, if you like. Clamp the work!! Only a crazy person
would try to grind with the work dancing around. Unless
you making a pump stand and it will be painted and hidden under
the pump, pad your vise or clamp jaws so you don't chew up the
Keep your elbows DOWN! Move your body, not your
arms. The large movement of your body is 100 times more
accurate than having a 10 pound weight dangling from the
extended end of your arms and trying to be accurate that way.
Old timers often call these tools a body grinder for this
Remove the majority of the stock with the
outside edge of the wheel. Clamp the work low and raise
the grinder until you can dig with almost the very outside edge. It cuts like a crocodile's teeth out there, and does not heat
the steel anywhere near as much. But its not easy to
control, so keep it moving and don't let it grab and dig in!