Drawknife vs Spokeshave: Choosing the Right Tool for Shaping Wood

What is a spokeshave tool used for

Both drawknives and spokeshaves are hand tools used in woodworking for shaping and smoothing wood, particularly curved surfaces. However, they have distinct strengths that make them better suited for different stages of the woodworking process. Let’s delve into the key differences to help you choose the right tool for the job.

What is the drawknife technique

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The Drawknife: Powerhouse for Rough Shaping

  • Design: A drawknife features a single-beveled blade with two handles, resembling a large chisel.
  • Function: It excels at quickly removing large chunks of wood during the initial shaping stage. You can adjust the cut depth by angling the blade bevel.
  • Control: The drawknife requires more power due to its aggressive cutting nature. It’s well-suited for experienced woodworkers comfortable with controlled pulling motions.



  • Leaves a rougher surface finish
  • Requires more skill and control

The Spokeshave: Finesse for Refining Shapes

  • Design: A spokeshave has a double-edged blade and a flat or rounded sole that rests on the wood. It often has a single handle and a lever or screw mechanism for adjusting the blade depth.
  • Function: It excels at refining shapes and smoothing curved surfaces after initial shaping with a drawknife or power tools. It creates finer shavings and allows for more precise control over the cut depth.
  • Control: The spokeshave offers greater control due to the pushing or pulling action (depending on grain direction and comfort) and the adjustable blade.


  • Creates a smoother surface finish
  • More precise control over cut depth
  • Can be used for pushing or pulling


  • Slower material removal compared to a drawknife

Related: The Mighty Table Saw: 3 Core Cuts that Power Your Woodworking Projects

Choosing the Right Tool

  • Rough Shaping: Use a drawknife for initial shaping, especially for removing large amounts of wood or working with irregular or uneven forms.
  • Refining Shapes: After using a drawknife or power tools for initial shaping, use a spokeshave to smooth and refine curved surfaces.
  • Balancing Efficiency and Control: If you’re new to woodworking, a spokeshave might be a good starting point due to its greater control. You can incorporate the drawknife for faster rough shaping as your skills develop.

Tips for Using Drawknives and Spokeshaves

  • Sharpen Regularly: Both tools require sharp blades for optimal performance and safety.
  • Use Proper Technique: Learn the proper gripping and pulling/pushing techniques to ensure clean cuts and avoid gouging the wood.
  • Work Progressively: Start with a rough cut using the drawknife and gradually refine the shape with the spokeshave.

In Conclusion

Drawknives and spokeshaves are both valuable tools in a woodworker’s arsenal. By understanding their strengths and weaknesses, you can choose the right tool for each stage of your project, achieving the desired shape and finish for your woodworking creations.

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Thomas Brown
Thomas Brown
Thomas Brown is a seasoned expert in the world of various tools and equipment. With over 7 years of hands-on experience in the field, Thomas has honed his skills across a wide spectrum of industries, from woodworking and construction to automotive and DIY home improvement projects.

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