A modern version of a specialized and still useful old tool, the DK1000 10-inch Draw Knife from Lumber Jack Tools is much better suited to shaping tool handles than stripping bark from trees. That’s no criticism of the knife, since this is a tool of excellent quality — just keep some spare knuckles handy if you plan to chip bark with it.
Made from high carbon steel, not stainless steel, the ten-inch blade of this large drawknife is about 1-1/2 inches wide and thick enough to resist flexing as you work. The two rat-tail tangs are deeply set in the molded plastic handles and should be secured nearly permanently. Although molded plastic is inexpensive and durable, it’s rough on the hands. Here, the shape of the traditional handles has been copied well, but the feel just isn’t the same.
The drawknife is a tool from the cooper’s trade, although wheelwrights, farmers, and woodsmen all used this handy blade — in combination with a foot-powered vise called a shaving horse. It’s possible to debark small logs with this knife if the diameter gives room for your hands to clear the wood and there’s a secure way to hold the log down. Safety is always an issue because the cutting edge pulls towards the user and the workpiece tends to slip along with it. Getting cut is unlikely, but bruises and scrapes are common.
Most workshops and woodlots today don’t include the shaving horse and drawknife as standard equipment. If you care to make the horse, you’ll discover the true worth of the drawknife whenever you need to replace an axe handle or trim a sledge hammer handle to fit the eye of the tool. In skilled hands, the drawknife is fast and accurate, and sometimes nothing else will do the job as well.
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