It is a wonderful tool for sharpening/honing drawknives. It is the brain child of Chairmaker, instructor, raiser of goats and all around nice guy, Peter Galbert in collaboration with tool maker, artisan and all around nice guy Jamel Abraham of Benchcrafted. Ok enough of the Bromance. Check out the Drawsharp here.
Following the instructions I set the Drawsharp to hone the newly ground edge. I started by making several passes with the diamond abrasive on the beveled edge until a burr was turned along the entire edge. I then flipped the drawknife over and honed the back turning the burr back to the bevel side. This left me with an even scratch pattern along both sides of the edge.
When using the Drawsharp you hold the drawknife as though it were a fiddle and move it over the blade. Next, I turned the pads to the sandpaper sides and continued to turn the burr from bevel to back and back to bevel using a diminishing number of strokes until the burr had disappeared.
I have heard it said many a time, if a drawknife can cut Eastern White Pine end grain and leave it silky smooth, it is truly sharp. Well, I am short on EWP. However, I have a plenty of Sugar Pine. Sugar Pine is a bit harder and more dense than EWP, but only slightly. So without any handles I put the edge to the pine. Not the results I was hoping for.
As you can see the cut bore evidence of fine nicks in the edge. I retrieved my jewelers loop to closely inspect the edge. As I feared and suspected, the pitting on the back was not going to allow me to produce a keen edge.
This meant one of two things, either scrap the project here and now or attempt to remove the pitting from the back. I don't know about you, but at times like these I hear voices; in an English accent I hear "What the bloody hell, get to work". It might be a dead relative? So it was, I took a file and worked the back of the drawknife, taking care to keep it as flat as humanly possible. After removing about 1/4" to 3/8" of the pitting back from the edge I put the drawknife to a series of water stones stopping at 8000 grit.
As you can see there is still evidence of a tiny nick caused by the pitting. I looked with the loop again and found it to be close to the end of the blade. It was a go for the handles. I thought about using paduck or purple heart but decided on good old cherry. Why? J.W. Mix & Co. was the maker of the drawknife and my research revealed the company was in New Haven, CT. I felt it was only fitting to use a beautiful American hardwood on this old American drawknife. I remembered my brother-in-law giving me some old cherry sticks that he salvaged out of a 19th century home, so I went digging.
This was my step drilling gauge for each handle and the handle pattern. Each handle needed to be step drilled to accommodate the handle tangs that transition from rectilinear to round.
Now let it be known far and wide, I am not a woodturner. I would someday like to be very proficient, that being said, this process took me probably three times as long as someone who knows what the heck they are doing would have taken. Whew, that felt good to get that off my chest. First I roughed out the cylinders then I step drilled each one.
Next I put the blanks between centers and began shaping the handles. This process was much like turning legs for chairs, only smaller. I was feeling my oats and thought I would use a skew chisel to give it that extra nice touch.
As you can see, I was humbled and put the skew away for yet another day.
Here are the finished handles drying. The three dark rings were scribed with a skew and then burnt in with an old guitar G-String. The finish is shellac put on while spinning on the lathe, then burnished with shavings. After that, I wiped on several coats of an oil varnish mix. The only thing left was to put the handles on the drawknife.
First I annealed the tang ends by heating them to a cherry red and letting them cool. This made it easy to peen them over. Thanks for the heads up Pete. I really, really like the look of natural cherry and black together so I decided to paint the ferrule's and caps black.
A drawknife that could have easily been destined to be on the wall at a Cracker Barrel will now be residing on the wall above my bench waiting to be put into service.
With every project I try to learn something. I take away from this project; The importance of finding edge tools that are free of or have very little pitting; That some tools are worth the extra effort to make them usable again; That investing my money in good tools made by good people is worth 10 fold the expenditure; That investing some time in learning to use a skew chisel would be a wise investment.
I hope that I have been able to provide you with some good information. Information that will encourage you to get into your shop and try something new. This is how we learn, by pushing ourselves outside of our comfort zone. So let's go to the shop and do something new and exciting, and always be safe.
~ Ray Schwanenberger