In Tools

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Tool: 8″ Drawknife Shop Now 

Manufacturer: Ray Iles

MSRP: $88.45

In October of 2017, I took a chairmaking class with Larry Barrett, a student of Jennie Alexander’s who has built on the beautiful designs and methods used in the Alexander-style ladderback chair. When I was looking through my tool kit in preparation for the class, one tool needed replacing – that rusty old drawknife I had only ever used to debark logs.

I had a number of recommendations on what drawknife I might enjoy most – but in the end, I went with this tool from Lincolnshire toolmaker Ray Iles.

If you’ve bought tools from Ray before (as I have many times, through Tools for Working Wood) you know the deal – they are no-nonsense tools. In keeping with the Sheffield tradition, this drawknife is no different – great steel, simple design and comfortable handles.

The knife shines particularly bright in the steel department – after being sharpened, it held a razor edge through hours of work. The handles, which are turned from beech and finished with linseed oil, are comfortable, but not so polished that you lose your grip.

With an 8″-wide and 1 58“-deep blade, this drawknife was a bit larger than what other students brought with them to the class, but this was only a disadvantage when it came to carving a very tight radius. Otherwise, the longer cutting edge was very comfortable and allowed for a lot of lateral movement when taking slicing cuts. Since the class, I’ve used the tool in all manner of shaping tasks, and it’s held up wonderfully. At $88.45, it pays for itself by coming sharp, flat and ready to use – no need to grind and scrape the rust off of granddad’s old beater.

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