Spokeshave Vs Drawknife – Which One Should You Buy?

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In the world of woodworking, two tools can often seem repetitive. There are times that hand tools appear to be very similar and you may think you only need one of them but in reality, they are actually very different.

There might just be small differences in some tools but that small difference in a tool might just make a big difference. One such tool comparison is a spokeshave and a drawknife. These tools are often pitted against each other and many people think you only need one but is that true?

We’ve put together a guide of spokeshave vs. drawknife to make sure you have all of the relative details for each of these tools so you can choose one of both of them to get for your woodworking needs. Spokeshaves and drawknives are unique in their own ways and our goal is you will understand those details at the end of this guide.

We’re going to talk about each of these individually and then follow up with a quick comparison as well.

A man using a spokeshave
Image by Ono Kosuki from Pexels

Spokeshave

A spokeshave is typically designed to come in and finish up a job and clean up any cutting. When a spokeshave and a drawknife is used, the spokeshave comes last because it has finer shavings and makes fine cuts to clean up the work and smooth it out, making your work look nicer overall.

Working with a spoke shave might be a bit more time consuming but that is because you are perfecting your work with it. Ultimately, the spokeshave will finish the surface when it is used properly. One thing you should know right away is this blade is not designed for heavy-duty use.

A spokeshave is meant to work your wood lightly. It’s a lightweight tool specifically designed as a knife for fine use. It has a long blade and handles typically and you can use a push stroke. A lot of people use these for things like wheel spokes and chair legs to give them a fine edge for your wooden surface.

The best spokeshaves typically have a wooden body and curved handles for working to shape and remove shavings and rough edges. They do so much good for the finishing touches. There are metal body spokeshaves out there but most woodworkers prefer the wooden options.

Draw knives can be used for some finer cuts, depending on how they are made but they aren’t necessarily designed for that purpose.

With a spokeshave, the design is pretty unique. What you will find is that the wooden shave’s cutter is nearly parallel. The sole and the bevel are placed upward rather than on the side. It’s very similar in style to a drawknife. When you go for a metal spokeshave, you will find that the cutter is 45 degrees as a default.

With a wooden spokeshave, you have a lower cutting angle so you can use the tool on end grain and it cuts smooth with the grain every single time. Our first choice would be an option if you can find one. It doe make a difference when you are working.

Using a Spokeshave

A spokeshave woodworking tool on the table
Image by Ono Kosuki from Pexels

Ultimately, a spokeshave has a specific purpose. It’s meant to shape and smooth and flatten, particularly where complex shapes might be involved. Here are some tasks that you can use a spokeshave for.

  • Smooth arched edges
  • Shape spindles
  • Cabriole legs and other curves
  • Wheel spokes
  • Table and chair legs
  • Wooden arrows

Think about it, this list is really just the tip of the iceberg. If you’re working with a curved surface, a spokeshave will have your back for a smooth finish. Spokeshaves tend to be much easier to find than a drawknife. However, at the same time finding a quality one with a wood body can also be a challenge and sometimes you have to find individual tool owners to work with.

Spokeshaves do tend to wear out quickly when they are put to use as they should so you may need to keep several on hand to be prepared. It’s ok to keep a variety of them from metal tools to wooden tools with various angles and bodies to handle a different depth of cut or purpose.

The best spokeshave will be reliable for you no matter what materials it is made of or what it is used for in the end.

Pair with a Scroll Saw

The spokeshave is meant for curves and intricacies. it stands to reason that if you use a scroll saw often, it might be a good idea to have a spokeshave handy. Or maybe you already have your spokeshave and you are in the market for a good scroll saw.

If you need the best scroll saw recommendation, we really like the DeWalt DW788 scroll saw. It’s a great value for the money. It’s powerful with variable speed capabilities and it cuts smoothly and easily. It’s very easy to work with and even has a convenient dust blower attached.

Drawknife

A spokeshave woodworking tool on the table
Image by Ono Kosuki from Pexels

Draw knives can be hard to find. Using a drawknife should typically be done before a spokeshave is introduced to a project. The challenge is that a draw knife is a very unique tool and so many wood workers don’t use them anymore so they are sparse on the market.

The challenge you may come across is not just finding a draw knife but finding a good draw knife is where the real challenge lies. A draw knife is meant to be a knife. It typically has a long blade and is meant to be used similarly to a knife when it is made properly for such a purpose.

What you will find is that a lot of times the blade on a draw knife will have a 45-degree bevel. While this might work well for some things, in a pull stroke circumstance it can actually cause more problems when it is used. You should just be mindful of the design and how it might affect your project.

You can still find a lot of the old style draw knives out there and even some new ones that are designed with a blade like the old style. When you work with wood, sometimes old school is best. It’s also a good idea to check out flea markets and antique stores to see if you can find these awesome wood tools from days of old.

Don’t get too used to any single wood design. Things always change and tool makers come up with new and improved ideas for your wood needs. A bevel certainly has a time and place but there are times a bevel blade simply can’t be used as well on your wood project.

Here’s a great tip. If you’re looking for a draw knife look for features such as tight handles, good shape, and a blade that isn’t ground way down. Two handles are always better than one in woodworking for the control it offers but it could depend on what you are using it for.

In spokeshave vs. drawknife, this is where you find the difference. A spokeshave is curved while a drawknife has a long blade and is held like a knife or a saw against the wood. They are used similarly but the control for finely finished items is improved with your shaver as opposed to the drawknife.

We recommend a blade that is between 8 and 10 inches. This isn’t your little two inch hand tool. It’s meant to be flat and long but it is a versatile tool for making different types of cuts. The handle to blade connection is curved and shaves at a different angle with the blades. The handles can also be different depending on what you are using for woodworking but you want control so you can make the best of your woodworking project. You typically will have two handles but longer blades and not a curved blade.

Related: Best Drawknife in 2021 – Reviews & Buyers Guide

Using a Drawknife

Using your drawknives properly will make a significant difference in your woodworking results. A lot of people don’t realize that there is a best way to grip your handles to get a proper pull for your cut. If you don’t hold it right, you can’t exercise control while you’re working and you might shave or cut much more than you really wanted to.

First and foremost, you won’t actually hold this in a normal position. For control, you may need to move your hands or choke up to get your blades set properly so it shaves consistently. It depends on the woodworking you are doing. Ultimately, you are slicing not chopping.

The processes can be time consuming but your wood and your blade will thank you if you use it all correctly.

Here are some tasks that your drawknife can be used for in woodworking.

  • Use the blade to remove large slices of wood on a flat surface
  • Remove the bark from tree wood
  • Use the blade on wood to start rounded or cylinder-shaped objects
  • Quickly cut or prepare wood with the blade for other touches and actions
  • Remove wood shavings on flat pieces
  • Prepare the wood for further design implementation

In comparison to spokeshaves, your woodworking drawknives are designed for preparing wood for the next step. If you’re removing bark or cutting off a chunk or slice of wood or two.

There are a lot of things in woodworking you can do with your drawknife and spokeshaves both. The best drawknife will be able to be used on a flat surface or even a chair seat or leg before you move on to perfecting the side with the blades of other tools.

Here your goal is not necessarily straight but to get your round or flat set, like with a chair leg, and then you can follow up with spokeshaves to round off the task.

Pair with a Bow Saw

If you consider the straight task to remove rough parts with your drawknife, you can also think about a bow saw and what straight work it can do. Use your bow saw to cut your wood to size and then use your drawknife to prep it for the next way of use. It doesn’t take much to remove those excess pieces or round out a piece with extra shavings.

If you want the best bow saw, we recommend the Bahco 10-24-23 bow saw. It’s lightweight and durable and quite easy to work with!

We Think You’ll Like: Best Bow Saw in 2021 – Reviews & Buyers Guide

Conclusion

We hope it is clear from this spokeshave vs. drawknife guide that the draw knife and spokeshaves are two very different tools. Spokeshaves are meant for finishing with finesse while the drawknife is meant more for preparation and rough starts.

You may need one or both of these in your shop!

Amazon Recommends:

Bestseller No. 1
boeray 2pcs Adjustable SpokeShave with Flat Base, 6pcs Metal Blade and 1pcs Portable Woodworking Planes Wood Working Hand Tool Perfect for Wood Craft, Wood Craver, Wood Working
  • More Complete: Package include 2 sizes adjustable spokeshave and 4 replaceable blades and 1pcs portable woodworking planes.Our philosophy is to serve customers,caring, peace of mind, more confidence.
  • Durable: Blade selection SK2 material and the whole after heat treatment, knife-edge with a long wear resistance.Blade hardness: 58-60HRC.Precision ground cutter allows for cutting with greater accuracy and confidence.Comfortable contoured handles and Corrosion-resistant epoxy coating.
  • Size: Adjustable SpokeShave total length is 10'' and 9''. Blade length is 43.8mm/1.72'' and 52mm/2.05'' .Portable Woodworking Plane total length:44mm/1.73''.For detailed size, please see the size picture in the image.
  • Easy to use:The Spoke-shave tool has an intuitive flat base and a good weight for the handles making it easy to use and give better precision for finer cuts on the woodworking project at hand.The use of double-screw adjustment screw, you can easily adjust the planing thickness lock stable planing smooth.Easily adjustable simply removing the screws and sliding into desired position.Both pieces have a user-friendly shape giving it suitable ergonomics fitting in you hand comfortably.
  • Application: These woodworking hand tool is used on wood craft, wood carver and wood working for plane complex surfaces and irregular patterns. Perfect for starter/beginner use.Adjustable cutters ideal for shaping the chair legs & seats,curved templates and many other kinds of curved work.
Bestseller No. 3
Robert Larson 580-1050 Kunz Round Bottom Spokeshave
  • Easy-to-use spokeshave to smooth and shape wood
  • Adjusting screws to help set the blade
  • Lever cap holds blade in place securely
  • Round bottom for concave surfaces
  • 2-inch blade made of high-quality German steel

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