Drawknife Sharpening

Honing an edge on a drawknife


Over the years I have made well over a thousand edge tools such as scorps and drawknives. During that period of time I have tried various sharpening methods to eliminate the burr left over from the grinding operation and to prepare the tool for use. Now with that many tools to sharpen I have had to come up with an efficient way to prepare the edge in a condition of: “ready to be honed”. In other words the tool can could be used as is but further honing will improve the condition of the edge so it will last longer between sharpening. When handling numerous sharp edges safety is imperative and the number one priority on my mind when handling the finished tools. I have cut my fingers on occasion and made a trip to the ER for stitches. Being hurt and loosing time is a lesson learned to focus at the task at hand and use careful methods of work. Always work with extreme caution when handling edge tools and wear protective clothing.


With all the styles for sharpening out there I am not considering myself as an expert by any means. The good folks at Norton in my mind are some of the leading authorities on this subject and have been in the business with a history going back to 1823. I do use their oilstones for my spokeshave blades.


The first thing I do before I handle a sharp blade is to put on a pair of kevlar gloves. These cut resistant gloves can save you a trip to the ER- well worth the price of about $12-15. for a level 3 glove. The cut resistant gloves can be found at various safety clothing stores and at places like McMaster-Carr. They come in different levels of cut resistance. I use level 3 and 4 kevlar as they have good cut resistance yet are flexible. These gloves are not puncture proof but give you a good barrier of protection. I highly recommend investing in a pair of cut resistant gloves for sharpening and handling edge tools.

When honing a drawknife I use a simple fixture that clamps in a vise and use two inch pony spring clamps to hold the tool on the fixture. This keeps both hands free and secures the blade for honing.

With two hands I bring the stone to the blade working one side with different grits before flipping the blade to stone the second side.


For me I find that diamond stones work fast and a 6 x 2 stone covers a large surface area putting more stone to the blade is more efficient in my mind. DMT makes several grits of standard diamond bench stones with a plastic base which is easy to hold. These off the shelf bench stones can also be used for many of your sharpening requirements. 3M also makes diamond stones, blocks, and PSA backed strips that can be attached to a block for honing with water or oil as a lubricant. I have experimented with the 3M foam blocks. They are flexible yet fairly stiff so they will stay flat as long as you don't assert a lot of downward force when using them. I found them to work well without pushing hard, just letting the diamond face do the work, and they are easy to hold with the gloves on.


With two gloved hands on the stone it is easy to hold the angle of the bevel using either a back and forth motion or circular motion while honing.