Drawknives are a challenge to sharpen because the handles invariably get in the way. Many woodworkers have found ingenious ways around this, but as with so many techniques in woodworking, there’s no one “right way” to sharpen a drawknife, though there are probably a few wrong ones. Here’s a technique that’s worked well for me.
Instead of placing the stone on a stable surface and drawing the tool’s edge across the stone, I reverse the process. I cradle the drawknife as shown above and rub the stone (I use a DMT Dia-Sharp coarse stone) over the edge, using a circular motion. Just watch your fingers! It’s easy to get carried away and run your knuckle right into the edge.
I use the coarse stone on the bevel side only. Then I switch to my fine stone and go over both the bevel and the back. Finally, I strop both sides.
My strop is merely a piece of leather glued to a scrap of hardwood and charged with Veritas honing compound. Starting on the far end of the blade, I draw the strop gently but firmly across the whole edge. I avoid pulling the strop completely off the edge, as I don’t want to dub the edge over.
There are other methods of getting the handles out of the way. For example, you can put the stone up on a riser so the handles of the drawknife can clear the bench. A block of wood works, but so does a really thick book.
And who doesn’t have a 6″ thick dictionary lying around?
Regardless of how you do it, I think it’s important not to let the edge get too dull between sharpenings. Because of the extra effort involved in sharpening, frequent honing is more economical in the long run.
However you do it, a sharp drawknife is a pleasure to use.