L. & I. J. White

Swan Chisels

Wal-Mart.com USA, LLC



Working with Hands - James E. Price

  Ingenuity of Craftsmen from the Past  

We live in the best
of times when it comes
to having the hand tools we think we need to pursue, which for most of us, is a hobby.


A simple click and our order is instantly launched into cyberspace. A few days later the postman brings us our new tool. Or, we haunt yard sales and flea markets and find bargains on excellent user tools because the general public considers them obsolete and of little interest.

But, what if we lived in another time when money was scarce and we lived a subsistence existence living mostly off the land? In times of necessity, humans eke out a living using those resources that can be wrested from the land and by recycling and repurposing metals to fulfill a need.

Over the years I have sought those tools that exhibit the ingenuity of craftsmen from the past. Today I post photos of an example of a drawknife that was made from a crooked tree limb or sapling and a piece of steel that was once a butcher knife blade.

This tool came from Appalachia and is a good example of a tool made in an isolated culture from simple materials. This drawknife works well even though it appears to be primitive and is a tool you might consider copying if you work at a shaving horse frequently.

The stock of this drawknife was made from a green limb or sapling. Both ends of a portion of a butcher knife were deeply embedded in the wood as it was bent. The photo shows this tool with the blade bevel up.

This is the drawknife with the blade bevel down.

This shows stress fractures in the wooden handle when it was bent. The original butcher knife cutting edge is opposite the beveled edge.

The tips of the butcher knife blade were forced into the wood. The blade was probably driven into the wood with a wooden baton striking the original back of the blade. Then the bevel was filed or ground on original back of the blade to create a cutter with a single bevel.

This photo shows the knife blade fragment embedded in the wood.

James E. Price
December, 2017

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L. & I. J. White

Winsted Tools

D. R. Barton


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