Whether it comes to a concave cut or an end grain, a drawknife is an ideal tool to make your life easier. It can shape long surfaces, as well as flat areas. However, the hand tool is not that common, so most newbies will face a few challenges when it comes to maintenance. There is a bit of training required before using it right too, but at the end of the day, what do you do when it goes flat?
Learning how to sharpen a drawknife is not that difficult though. The versatile tool can be used for a plethora of activities. There are a few different ways to sharpen a knife and while sharpeners might be alright, nothing compares to the classic sharpening stone. So, what steps do you need to follow to get the job done?
Why sharpen a drawknife
A drawknife is still a knife. All knives go dull after too many uses, so they require regular sharpening. Despite the unusual look and uses, it will need sharpening for a proper operation and quality woodworking results in the long run.
Keep in mind that you are likely to use this knife for a plethora of different cuts. Imagine a concave cut with a dull knife – the result will be disastrous. Think about a long woodcut too – you need consistency throughout the cut, which is less likely to happen with a dull blade.
Moreover, a dull knife is a dangerous knife. You will struggle, and it may slip away instead of actually going through wood, causing severe injuries. From this point of view, sharpening your tool is a matter of both safety and efficiency.
How to Sharpen a Drawknife? Step by Step Instructions
Keep the knife secure
Compared to other types of knives, this one has a slightly unusual shape. It usually comes with two handles, which makes it a bit weird. However, sharpening it might seem easier than sharpening a kitchen knife.
Securing the knife is critical before you start sharpening. It is more important than the sharpening procedure. You need to keep it in a secure position – no movements are allowed, not even small movements. As you work on the blade, a bit of movement can ruin the sharpening experience.
How do you secure your drawknife then? Look for a wall or another similar surface. Lodge one of the ends against the respective surface, then press the other end against your body. Make sure it feels stable and not wobbly.
Apply just enough pressure to keep it firm. If you put too much pressure on it, it might slide up or down. Not only will you bump yourself against the wall, but you also risk injuring yourself, as the knife will go flat against your body.
Work on the bevel side
Learning how to sharpen a drawknife implies two different procedures and each of them is just as important. The first part involves sharpening the bevel side. It might seem challenging if you have never done it.
Why? Easy – drawknives have a relatively large bevel. You do not have to be a genius to figure out which one it is. Grab the sharpening stone and rub it against this side.
A big bevel may seem a bit difficult, but it actually makes the whole job much easier. Finding the optimal angle should not be too problematic. Simply lay the stone flat and rub it at the same angle throughout the surface of the bevel – back and forth.
Squeeze in a few strokes – depending on how dull your knife is. How do you know you are done? You can just try the knife and see what it feels like. Generally speaking, if you can feel a burr, the knife is sharp enough.
Work on the flat side
The next sharpening step implies working on the flat side. The good news about this step is that you do not have to worry about the overall sharpening angle. After all, this blade is flat and does not require too much attention.
The procedure is the same. Lay the stone flat, then start rubbing – back and forth. You cannot really try this part to determine whether or not the sharp is done. But just like for the bevel side, pay attention to what it feels like. If you can feel a burr, you are done.
Polish your drawknife
Lots of people overlook this step. The truth is you do not necessarily need it. However, a professional woodworker will never overlook it – failing to polish the knife will lead to tiny imperfections as you work on wood. They are not really visible though.
The burr is relatively large. As you stop sharpening and take a closer look at your knife, you will notice some small imperfections. There are a few scratches here and there. Their effect on your woodworking is insignificant, but a professional would still polish the knife and get rid of them.
Polishing a drawknife involves the same procedures as sharpening it. There is one difference in the tool though. You will still need to use a sharpening stone, but you have to make sure it is fine and less likely to put too much stress on the knife.
Some professionals go even further, meaning they use strops. All in all, this step will remove all the scratches on your drawknife. It will make woodworking even easier and more importantly, it will give your tool a shiny appearance.
Here is a very good video by Ben Orford on how to sharpen a drawknife
Sharpening a drawknife is relatively simple and should barely take a few minutes. There are more options out there, but the traditional sharpening stone is the most efficient one. If you have sharpened other types of knives before, you will notice sharpening a drawknife is even easier.