When doing specialized craft projects, you need a lot of specialized tools. If you’re doing any woodworking and you prefer to work with traditional hand-tools rather than bulky, loud electric machines, then a draw knife is a must-have for your woodshop.
A draw knife is a long, thin blade situated between two handles, which is held in both hands and drawn towards the user, scraping the top layer off of a piece of wood. This can both shave off bark and smooth the wood to make it easier to work with, precisely shaving off wood in thin curls, somewhat like a plane. Or, if you’re not aiming for a flat wood surface, the draw knife can be used to carve a round shape as well.
There are many factors to consider while choosing which draw knife is the best suited to your crafting needs. The advantage of all draw knives is the precision they allow you, where every cut is guided by your own hands, not by the stronger blunt force of power tools—and so you’ll want to choose exactly the right knife that will fit your hands in particular.
What will you be using your draw knife for, rough jobs or more delicate cuts? Do you need straight, flat surfaces, or are you using it to round wood? Are you trying to balance the quality of the blade with economical prices? What kind of blade will you be able to sharpen to the edge you need?
Any of these drawing knives will be a great tool, but a hand-tool is a very personal thing. You’ll want to consider carefully and make sure you choose the right one for you.
BeaverCraft Splitter Knife
The draw knife made by BeaverCraft, called a splitting tool, is primarily made for wood carving. The highly durable, 4.3-inch high carbon steel blade is perfectly straight with no curve, set between two sturdy, ergonomic wooden handles that make the complete knife 14 inches long.
Sharpened and polished before getting packaged, this blade has been carefully hardened so that it can handle both hardwood and softwood with smooth cuts–both straight and complexly curved cuts, for whatever you want to create. This short knife can handle rough jobs like debarking, but it is also suitable for more precise carving jobs.
For newer carvers who may be using this as your first draw knife, free eBooks are also included that describe how to sharpen your knife and how to prevent rust, making the BeaverCraft knife useful for woodworkers of all skill levels.
Morakniv Classic Wood Splitter Knife
For more experienced wood carvers, the Morakniv is ideal. An extremely lightweight knife with a 4.3-inch blade, this wood splitter has an extremely sharp, straight carbon steel blade with red birch wood handles on either side.
Don’t let the light weight and compact size of this knife fool you—it’s as strong as any other blade on the market, heavy-duty enough to handle hardwood, debarking, and other rough woodcarving jobs, and it requires care and skill to use.
Particularly because the single-edged blade is beveled on both sides, it holds its edge and can be used for different jobs than single-beveled blades, but this different edge may take some getting used to. According to more experienced woodworkers, this blade is an excellent quality, reliable knife that suits very heavy-duty jobs.
Felled Draw Shave Tool
This draw knife has the sturdy durability that lets you know your tools won’t let you down. With heavy wooden handles perpendicular to the thick, curved blade, the draw knife by Felled is made to last.
Useful for rougher wood jobs that require removing excess materials quickly to carve wood into the shapes you need, the Felled knife comes in different sizes, from a smaller 4-inch blade to the heavier-duty 8-inch blade, all of which are finely polished and ready to hold a sharp edge.
This knife’s handles are oriented to provide you the best control and accuracy in your strokes, and because the handles are bolted in, if they loosen or even crack, they can be tightened or replaced, meaning that this blade can last you even longer than its solid wooden handles.
Timber Tuff Curved Draw Shave Tool
Finally, much like the Felled tool, the Timber Tuff draw knife is a 5-millimeter-thick curved blade set between two wooden handles. Five inches long and set at a thirty-degree angle, this heavy-duty steel blade is great for debarking and furniture building, as well as other wood carving projects.
Coming with a one-year warranty, this draw knife is a reliable choice if what you’re looking for is just a simple, classic draw knife. Sometimes requiring you to sharpen this blade, this knife comes with no surprises—just a simple tool to do the job you need every time.
Best Draw Knife
The draw knives in this list have fallen into two general categories: straight blades with handles in line with them, and curved blades with handles perpendicular to them. Which one you want to choose will depend on the type of work you’re doing with your draw knife and which type of orientation you’re more comfortable with.
The BeaverCraft knife is a classic straight draw knife that can be used for both rough debarking jobs and more fine-tuned carving, while the Morakniv straight draw knife is double-beveled and more suited to expert wood carvers tackling heavy-duty jobs. As for curved knives, the Felled knife comes in different sizes and is generally praised as being a very high quality knife that holds a keen edge and whose handles are convenient to fix if problems occur, while the Timber Tuff knife is a standard curved draw knife that is simple, durable, and reliable.
Since the straight and curved knives fall in slightly different categories, the favorites from this list include the BeaverCraft straight knife and the Felled curved knife, for all your carving needs. The BeaverCraft has the versatility of a single-beveled edge and training materials for new carvers, and the Felled knife has great options for choosing what size knife you prefer, making them the most useful knives on this list.
But whatever knife you choose, be sure to choose the right one for you, and for the wood that you’ll be working with; choose the knife that will be an extension of your own hands.