Thursday, October 13, 2016

How to make a DIY draw knife from an old file

Those vintage woodworking tools are rare and expensive. So I decided to make one from an old file. Files are a good choice because they are made of really hard tool steel.

First of all I used a chalk to mark the areas I wanted to cut out. Then I used my angle grinder to remove the unwanted material.

I then moved to my bench top belt sander to clean the file marks from my tool. I also used my rotary tool with a cylindrical stone bit to clean the inner curves of my shape.

I then moved to my grinder to establish the bevel of my knife. I used a home made tilted base to help me grind the bevel as straight as I could.

I wanted the handles of my tool to be at a slight angle. To bent them I used a propane torch to heat them up to red hot. Then I clamped them against a metal cylinder and hammered them in place. I also used an old sledge hammer as an anvil.

I drilled holes for brass pins on my drill press. Before that I burned the tool with the torch in order for the steel to become soft. Before that the drill could not penetrate the hardened steel of the file.

Then I heated the tool to red hot with the torch and dipped it in oil to harden. I then put it in an oven at 180 degrees Celsius  for 2 hours. This heat treatment gave the tool some flexibility to prevent it from snapping.

I cleaned the tool with WD40 and 100 grit sand paper.

On a piece of paper, I drew the handle shape and transferred it on a piece of hardwood, I think it is iroko. I then cut the handles on the bandsaw.

I cleaned the bandsaw marks on the home made disc sander I made for the lathe.

I used my chisels to carve out the grooves for the tool’s handles.

I used my drill press to drill holes for brass pins. I cut the pins to size and glued everything with two part epoxy glue.

I then cut off the excess brass on the bandsaw and used my belt sander to shape the handles. The belt sander was mounted on the bench with clamps. I finished sanding by hand.

I finished the handles with a couple of coats of teak oil.

I then sharpened the blade with various grits of sand papers, a flat sanding block and WD40. 

I then finished the blade with a piece of leather with polishing compound.

My draw knife was ready and razor sharp, I hope you like it!


  1. How much would something like this cost me? I don't have a whole lot of money (not much at all, in fact), but I could really use a drawknife. Maybe we could work something out...?