Spokeshave vs Drawknife: Differences Explained By Real User

Spokeshave vs Drawknife

It’s trivial.

Yeah, the difference between spokeshave and drawknife is trivial. But even this little difference is crucial if you’re into woodworking.

Most of the people can’t even tell apart these two tools at first glance. But it’s super important to know the differences between these two. Because in the case of pitch-perfect woodworking, these differences do matter.

Moreover, you might get extra benefits by using one tool in a certain situation than using the other tool.

Long story short, you should have a clear concept about spokeshave vs drawknife. It’s not a must. But knowing the differences might help you in the long run.

Here, we have explored the differences in a very systematic way. At first, we get to know each of the tools and in the end, we’ll bring out specific pros and cons about these.

Now, let’s jump right into the details-

Spokeshave vs Drawknife

What is Spokeshave?

What is Spokeshave?

A spokeshave is a woodworking tool that is specially designed for shaving and trimming woods. Chair legs, wheel spokes, arrows, bows, boat paddles (Kayak and Canoe), etc. items are generally made with this tool.

If we go to the origins of this tool, then we’ve to go to ancient times. This tool dates back to the prehistoric age. Back then this tool was made out of sharpened stones. Around the 16th century, this tool got modernized. People started using this tool for creating wooden wheel spokes. Asa a result, it got its name Spokeshave.

The spokeshave has two handles extended form the middle. This gives the tool a wing-like shape.  Another part of the spokeshave is called the sole.

This sole part connects the tool with the working wood piece. There’s a slot in the sole which is often referred to as the mouth. The mouth is dedicated to holding blades.

But there’s a catch-

There are several types of spokeshaves. But it’s not this simple. There are three types of blades and four types of soles.

The blade types are- flat, conclave and convex. And the sole types are- flat, round, concave, convex. After combining all these, we get 4 types of spokeshaves. All these spokeshaves are used for different purposes.

Here’s the Best Spokeshaves on Amazon today. 

Pinnacle No151 1/2 Radius Spokeshave
1 Reviews
Pinnacle No151 1/2 Radius Spokeshave
  • 304 stainless steel body
  • Pinnacle/IBC A2 blade
  • Radius sole
Robert Larson 580-1000 Kunz 151 Flat Spokeshave
103 Reviews
Robert Larson 580-1000 Kunz 151 Flat Spokeshave
  • Country of Origin:China
  • Package length:3.0"
  • Package width:13.0"
  • Package height:2.0"
Taytools 469553 2 Piece Set Flat and Round Bottom Spokeshaves Fine Adjustment 2 Inches Wide High Carbon Blade RC 55-60 9-1/2 Inches Overall
10 Reviews
Taytools 469553 2 Piece Set Flat and Round Bottom Spokeshaves Fine Adjustment 2 Inches Wide High Carbon Blade RC 55-60 9-1/2 Inches Overall
  • This is a 2 piece set consisting of flat and round bottom spokeshaves with dual fine blade adjustment mechanism. Sole is 1” wide.
  • Made from tough ductile cast iron
  • Adjustment knobs are solid brass and screws are stainless steel
  • Blades are 2” wide and 0.0750” thick and made from tool steel and hardened and tempered to RHC 55-60
  • Weigh in at 14.5 ounces each; Overall lengths are 9-1/2”

How to Use a Spokeshave?

Before using the spokeshave you first have to figure out if it’s a push stroke or a pull stroke. This depends upon the blade and sole type. Once you’re done with that, it’s time to get deeper.

Here we will only explore the pull stroke for a spokeshave.

  1. Hold your spokeshave firmly. An easy way to do that is by holding the handles between first the two hand fingers while keeping the thumb behind the blade.
  2. Place the spokeshave sole on the flat surface of the wood.
  3. Pull your spokeshave carefully towards you while keeping it in touch with the wood surface.
  4. Apply slight pressure downwards while pulling.

Keep on doing this while keeping your intended wood shape in mind.

If you have a push spokeshave, then the process becomes slightly different. Just push it instead of pulling.

Do you push or pull a spokeshave?

Answer: You can use a spokeshave for both push and pull.

What is a Draw Knife?

What is a Draw Knife?

The drawknife is a long blade positioned between two handles. With this blade, you can slice the wood both thinly and as a chunk. The blade can be both straight and curved.

Basically, the whole tool looks like a bicycle handle.

There are two types of drawknives. Straight and curved. However, you can use the straight and curved blades interchangeably. A curved blade is best for projects that have a lot of hollowing out. For example, if you’re up for making a chair then a hollowed drawknife would be the best option.

Here’s the list of Best Draw Knives on Amazon today. 

Timber Tuff TMB-08DS Straight Draw Shave Tool, 8'
313 Reviews
Timber Tuff TMB-08DS Straight Draw Shave Tool, 8"
  • Sharp 8” straight blade, 5 mm thick with a 30° angle for fast and accurate work
  • Designed with a long-lasting and durable steel blade with a hardness of HRC 30 for a reliable product
  • Wood grip handles are comfortable and provide you with a secure hold; the included blade protector keeps the blade sharp and protects the user
  • Easily shaves wood from logs, wood, fence posts, and more
  • Ideal for building furniture; 1 year limited Manufacturer's parts warranty
FLEXCUT 5 inch Draw Knife, High Carbon Steel Blade, Ergonomic Ash Handle, Leather Sheath Included (KN16)
338 Reviews
FLEXCUT 5 inch Draw Knife, High Carbon Steel Blade, Ergonomic Ash Handle, Leather Sheath Included (KN16)
  • 5 inches of workable edge
  • Flexible blade conforms to projects as needed
  • Two ergonomic ash hardwood handles provide solid grip
  • Comes with sturdy leather sheath
  • Made in the USA
Stubai Drawknife Made In Austria
42 Reviews
Stubai Drawknife Made In Austria
  • Mid size drawknife for general woodworking use.
  • Hardened steel holds keen edge.
  • Offset handles for comfortable use.
  • Blade length 9 1/4". Overall length 17"

How to use a Draw Knife?

There are two ways of using a drawknife. These are bevel up and bevel down. If you’re up for thin cuts, then bevel down is your way. On the other hand, if you need higher control and deeper cuts, then bevel up is the thing for you.

Now let’s look at the process-

  1. Sit on your shaving horse and secure your working wood piece.
  2. Hold down the draw knife by using the two handles. Make sure that the blade is facing you.
  3. If you’re in Bevel down mood, then place the flat side of the blade against your wooden surface.
  4. Draw the blade towards you carefully.

Keep doing this till you have your desired shape.

Pros and Cons of Spokeshave and Drawknife

Just like every other tool, these two have their own pros and cons. Here we will discuss the practical pros and cons of these tools. The advantages and disadvantages that you’ll have while working with these. So, let cut deeper-

Pros and Cons of Spokeshave

What We Liked
    • Spokeshave comes with an easy control feature.
    • It provides precise and refined work output.
    • It requires little to no maintenance.
    • It allows you to reach complex surfaces. For example, edged and cylindrical wooden pieces.

What We Didn't Like
  • As this tool makes smaller and finer cuts, it is pretty time-consuming.
  • It is a bit low on the versatility scale.

Pros and Cons of Drawknife

What We Liked
    • Drawknives are versatile. You can shave as thin or thick as you want.
    • You can remove the shavings super-fast after using this tool.

What We Didn't Like
  • It requires a certain level of expertise to use this tool.
  • These tools require regular sharpening.

Spokeshave vs Drawknife: Which one is the Best?

To be honest, there is no direct answer. Which one will be best for you depends upon your situation and experience.

In Conclusion

We have laid out all the facts here. Now you know almost everything about these tools. However, we recommend you watch videos of using these tools before the final decision.

Good luck and happy woodworking.

About the author

John Paterson

Hi there! My name is John Patterson. I’m a meticulous guy who loves to deal with the perfect tools for various needs. No matter if it’s a woodworking tool or gardening tool or anything else, I don’t compromise the quality and usability. Since 2010 I’ve been testing different tools for different DIY and professional tasks. Later in 2015, I decided to share my knowledge with the world. I started by answering people in the forums and several Q/A sites like Quora. Then I founded this blog to aid others like you with my knowledge and experience.


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