Improvising a Drawknife from your Bushcraft knife.


As I’m not the world’s brightest thinker I hate to complicate things. If there’s a simple, straight forward way of doing something I’m there. To me, that’s one of the reasons why I love Bushcraft and Primitive Living Skills so much, because more often than not there are so many simple but elegant ways of surmounting some of the challenges we have whilst living in the woods.

One of my favourite examples of this is, is turning your standard Bushcraft knife into a drawknife with a very quick simple adaptation. Drawknives are an incredibly useful tool for us to use out in the woods. They allow us to work wood quickly but precisely and can cut down considerably on crafting time but can also make working wood much more controlled. Drawknives are usually used with a specialised clamp called a draw or shave horse which is effectively a bench with a foot operated vice and they are normally used to craft larger, longer items such as paddles, bows and camp furniture.

Now although they are incredibly useful tools they are quite specific bits of kit and not only cost money but also it’s not always practical to carry your drawknife with you as well as your Bushcraft knife. To circumvent this problem there is a very simple solution to convert your standard knife into a drawknife.

First, you will need to harvest a tick-shaped branch. It will need to be fairly sturdy and preferably a harder wood of a minimum 2cm diameter. Trim the branch so that the thinner fork of the branch has been removed and is flush. This might seem quite odd but this will stop the branch splitting later on in the project.


The next thing to do is to carve a groove the entire length of the branch (or handle as it now is). This groove needs to go through the entire handle making a slot running from the top to the bottom. this is the main reason we chose a branch with a fork at the end is because if we had just used a straight piece of wood then as we carved our groove the whole handle would have split in half, however, using a branch with another branch coming out changes the properties of the wood and it, therefore, is less likely to split in use . This slot can be made either with a normal knife or a saw however I would recommend using a knife as it will be much more controlled and less likely to make the groove wander.





Now that you have your slot cut through the handle you’re ready to give it a test. Put the tip of your knife into the slot and holding the end of the handle clamp the end of the slot shut with your hand. This should clamp your knife securely in the groove and hold it in place. Now, you are free to use it like a normal draw knife.



And there you have it a simple elegant solution for when out in the woods and you need a draw knife.



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