Not long ago, I picked up a 10″ curved drawknife (made by A. W. Crossman) at an antique shop. It still had an edge on it, so I scraped off the surface rust and honed the edge. I wish all tool restoration jobs were that easy!
Using a sharp drawknife is a pleasure, but storing it safely is another matter. The edge will get nicked if I keep the tool in the bottom of my tool chest, and if I keep it hanging on the wall near my other tools, I’ll almost certainly cut myself when I try to reach past it.
The solution is a simple blade guard:
Above is a drawknife with a factory-made guard, which I modeled mine after. Below is my finished guard. It’s a very simple project if you have the right tools for the job.
Because this guard will have a deep groove running down the middle of it, I decided to use the most split-resistant wood I had on hand: pecan. The one on the drawknife above is oak.
I think a tool should participate in making its own accessories if possible. So I shaved the pecan to near-finished width with the Crossman drawknife. I dimensioned the pecan to 3/4″ X 1 1/2″ X 11″.
Next I plowed a 1/2″ deep groove in the stock using a 3/16″ iron. The original cover has a groove that’s about 3/4″ deep, but my plow plane bottoms out at 1/2″, so I went with that. So long as it fully covers the cutting edge, the guard will work fine.
For a straight-bladed drawknife, the groove would be done. However, the curved blade of this drawknife would rock back and forth in the groove, making the guard difficult to secure.
So I used a 1/8″ chisel to excavate the center of the groove so as to accommodate the curved drawknife blade. No measuring of radii here: it’s just done freehand until the blade fits without rocking.
Next I used a rabbet plane to lower one wall of the groove by about 1/4″.
This step is not strictly necessary, but it does indicate which side is the “front” of the guard. (It’s the short side.) And I happen to like the two-level effect.
At this point, I realized that having a full 1″ of thickness underneath the groove was overkill, so I sliced about 1/2″ off the bottom, making the guard significantly lighter. It’s now just about 1″ wide.
I could drill a couple holes for the leather thongs and call it done, but I prefer to add some decorative details. If I’m going to be looking at this every time I approach my workbench, I want it to look good.
I used the jack plane to round over the bottom, making the guard even lighter. (I should have drilled the holes FIRST.) I also used a coping saw to clip each bottom corner, and I rounded over the top corners with a spokeshave.
I drilled two holes through the bottom for the leather thongs and then smoothed all the sharp edges with a card scraper.
I’m glad I thought to save the leather laces from that old pair of slippers I threw out last winter!