Port Townsend School of Woodworking
Preserving the Tradition


Jointing with Drawknife and Try Plane - Jim Tolpin

In the first of our new tips and techniques Jim Tolpin writes and demonstrates how to remove a lot of material when jointing by using a drawknife first:
In just a couple of weeks, I’ll be attending the Woodworking in America conference in Cincinnati, Ohio. These shows are extremely popular (this year’s show has been sold out for months!) and well worth attending if you want to learn more than you ever thought possible about choosing and using hand tools. As for me, besides getting to see some of the best hand tool woodworkers in the country do their stuff, I get to do some stuff myself! Chris Schwarz and I will be demonstrating how to flatten boards by hand with a sequence of hand planes as well as demonstrating some typical—and not-so-typical— uses of the drawknife.
Now a lot of furnituremakers are already fairly familiar with using hand planes, but the lowly, and rather homely, drawknife is kind of looked down upon—or at least seen as primarily the tool of old-world bodgers (chairmakers). Having come to furniture making via boatbuilding, however, I have been long aware of the use of the drawknife in that trade, and of its inherent abilities that most furnituremakers would find most useful. 
At the WIA I’ll be showing how the drawknife can be used in lieu of a rip saw to bring a board to width and how it can be used in lieu of a band saw to made inside and outside curves along a board’s edge….and far more, including how to use it to create decorative treatments such as stops on chamfers and scalloped edges (prolific on gypsy wagons!).
Sometime early next year I’ll do this presentation about drawknives at the Port Townsend School of Woodworking, but for now--if you want to see just how fast the drawknife can be relative to a rip saw--try this:
  1. Draw a straight line along the edge of a board about ¼-in. in from one edge. (Choose a straight-grained piece to reduce the challenge a bit!) Bring the line around to the other face and mark it.
  2. Now clamp the board in a vise, orient the drawknife bevel side up and slice just about down to the line on one face at a bevel of about 45 degrees. (If you experience tearout, reverse the board in the vise).
  3. Next bevel down to the line on the opposite face. What’s left is a “mountain” in the middle of the edge—which you’ll slice off until the bevel disappears on each side. On a two foot long board with straight grain, this should take only a minute or so.
  4. Finally, plane the edge true with a try plane and you’re done!
Here's our first how-to video. A little rough round the edges - we'll get better.