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Abe Elias

How To Use Drawknives

Drawknives Are A Woodworker’s Best Friend And One Of Many Unique Knives Craftsmen Use Regularly

Knives take on many shapes and sizes. As tools, their designs sometimes focus on specific tasks. In the case of the drawknife, it is designed for woodworking. Drawknives have been found to date back to the Viking era more than a millennium ago.

The design itself takes many different shapes for a variety of purposes. At times, it is not referred to as a drawknife but, at first glance, you can see the relationship and how a number of tools can be considered part of the same family. As with any tool, different cultures have different interpretations of how the tool should be designed.

What Is A Drawknife?

A drawknife is a single-beveled blade placed between two handles. The tool gets its name from how it is used. You simply grab both handles and draw the knife towards you bevel up. Controlling the angle that the blade enters the wood will control the depth of cut. A steep angle will get you a deeper, more aggressive cut but will also require more effort.

Lowering the angle makes for a shallower cut and also gives you a finer finish as the material is removed less aggressively. Some designs have long handles on plane with the blade. Other designs have the handle tight in and below the plane of the blade. No matter where the handles are, the action is the same but the point of control changes.

Top row, from left: a German-style drawknife made in Western Germany, Mora push knife, English-style drawknife, Flexcut 5-inch drawknife and a cooper’s knife. Bottom row, same order: Round drawknife and a chair maker’s scorp.
Top row, from left: a German-style drawknife made in Western Germany, Mora push knife, English-style drawknife, Flexcut 5-inch drawknife and a cooper’s knife. Bottom row, same order: Round drawknife and a chair maker’s scorp.

How To Use A Drawknife

When working with a narrow stock up to two inches wide, it’s easy enough to draw the knife straight back toward you. On wider stock, it is better to skew the knife. Skewing the knife provides a leading edge and causes less resistance during the cut. When working with hardwoods you want to keep the cut light, as the dense grain provides more resistance and bogs the knife down.

Learning to use a drawknife properly is a bit like working a puzzle. The easiest way to make a cut is to work the facets of the material. For instance, say we are working on a piece that is square. To shape the piece to the required size it is easier to work the corners down, creating more corners until you get to your desired shape. By working the flats, you must use more energy and struggle to make a cut.

When first using a drawknife, the tendency is to use your arms to power the tool. Instead, use your back muscles, which are larger and less likely to fatigue quickly. Draw the knife back as if you were using the same muscle for rowing. If done right, it should feel like your shoulder blades are trying to meet in the middle of your back. For safety’s sake, keep your elbows in tight. As you draw the knife back your elbows will hit your core acting as a safety stop, preventing you from slipping and cutting yourself.

Types Of Drawknifes

A debarking knife is usually a larger style of drawknife used for extracting bark from logs. They are larger and heavier than their woodworking counterparts so that you can blast through the bark.

It has been my experience that when working green wood, the knife doesn’t need to be kept as sharp. In fact, it is somewhat more helpful to keep the knife a bit dull when cutting green wood so as to avoid diving too deep into the wood itself. On seasoned logs, because of the lack of sap between the bark and sapwood, I find it better to have the knife a bit sharper.

Woodworking drawknives come in a variety of shapes and sizes. The two main types I have used: English and German. The English style has a blade that bares a slight arch and the handles are on the same plane as the blade. German-style knives have handles that sit lower than the blade and the blade tends to be straight. The knives’ handles can vary. Most of mine have a pear-like shape. There are other styles like a round knob style, which is a ball shape.

Specialty styles of knives include any drawknife that is shaped to obtain a specific result. A cooper’s knife is shaped to accommodate the making of barrel staves. I also have a handle-making knife. The handle-making knife is a tight arch designed to make handles for things like brooms or garden implements. The basic shape is a half circle, so instead of trying to round a piece off by angling a number of cuts, you get a piece of wood close to size and simply let the knife shape it.

The cooper’s shave is designed to hollow out the staves of a barrel.
The cooper’s shave is designed to hollow out the staves of a barrel.

Push Knife

The model uses the Mora push knife to clean up curls left at the bottom of a curve. With the push knife, you can work the wood in an opposite direction without repositioning the piece.

A Scandinavian invention, the push knife is similar to a drawknife in that it has a blade attached by two handles on either side. Using a push knife is different in the way that you are expected to force the edge away from your body instead of pulling it toward you. Unlike a drawknife, the handles come straight out from the sides, which allows you to either push or pull the knife. I normally use the knife in the manner that gets the job done—meaning on occasion I will draw the knife toward me rather than push.

What Is A Scorp?

Technically, scorps are not drawknives. However, in terms of looks and use you can’t help but lump them in the same family. I have a chair maker’s scorp that is designed to hollow out the seats of chairs. On older chairs is a slight depression where the person sits. A chair maker’s scorp was used to produce the shape. The tool operates just like a drawknife except it has a shorter blade with a more pronounced arch.

How To Sharpen A Drawknife

Like any other cutting tool, a drawknife must be sharpened. Perhaps the trickiest part of sharpening a drawknife is finding a way to brace it. I find dynamic sharpening the easiest way to sharpen a drawknife. I brace the knife and move the sharpening medium instead of the other way around. One way to brace the knife for sharpening is to put one handle in your armpit and hold the other handle in your off hand. Once the knife is braced this way, take a stone to it. Another way is to brace one handle on the bench, lean your chest on the other handle, and then begin sharpening. Keep in mind a drawknife must be sharp (except where noted previously) but since it is not necessarily a fine woodworking tool, don’t get carried away.

YouTuber James Wright shows you how to sharpen a drawknife using a set of sharpening stones in his shop.

Lastly, keep it oiled. Even the newer ones are not made from new high-tech steels. Most are from simple carbon stock and a light coat of oil goes a long way. Among others, Flexcut offers a contemporary drawknife.

Other Wood Carving Tools

Beyond drawknives and planes, there are many other types of wood carving knives out there that can help with some of the finer points of woodworker. Small, nimble wood carving knives like a sloyd knife or a spoon knife.

A sloyd knife is a short, sturdy blade good for small, finite carving tasks. A spoon knife, as the name suggests, is meant to carve out the concave scoop of a spoon but can be used for any other situation where you are trying to create a concave dip in the material.

There are certainly more than just these few tools to being a successful woodworker, but knowing how to use wood carving tools big or small can get you on the path to success.

Why To Use A Drawknife

Long before there was solar power, fossil fuel power, steam power, etc., there was muscle power. Humans developed the world using tools with muscle and sweat. There is something satisfying about making something by hand. The feel of a good day’s work is sometimes what the soul needs. A drawknife not only gets the job done but also gives you an accomplishment to savor.

Where To Buy A Drawknife

Spyderco Yojimbo 2: Fantastic Straightedge Folder


Now in its second iterations, the Yojimbo 2 nails exactly what a straightedge folder should be.

It isn’t hard to review a Spyderco knife.

Anyone who has ever used one can tell you the company has an uncanny ability to nail the making of folders as well as fixed blades. What is even more uncanny is how the company can do it so consistently while being so prolific. Hence, if you want to talk about good straight-edge knives and also the features of folding EDCs in comparison to fixed-blade EDCs, you might as well include one of the best folding knifemakers in the business. If you’ve ever talked to BLADE Magazine Cutlery Hall-Of-Fame® member Sal Glesser, you quickly realize the thing that drives Spyderco’s outstanding record of knife offerings is Sal’s passion for the trade.

The wide blade on the Spyderco Yojimbo 2 gives plenty of real estate for your thumb to clear the scale and fi nd its way into the hole so you can open the knife easily.
The wide blade on the Spyderco Yojimbo 2 gives plenty of real estate for your thumb to clear the scale and fi nd its way into the hole so you can open the knife easily.

Yojimbo 2 Rundown

The Yojimbo design has been out for years, but to be truthful I am just getting around to reviewing it now in the Yojimbo 2 iteration. At 7.55 inches open, it’s in the midsized folder range. I prefer a small-to-midsized folder because once I get into the large folders, I start asking myself why I didn’t just choose a fixed blade. The blade has a sharp-angle execution of a wharncliffe style, resulting in a very articulated tip. With a blade width starting at 1.5 inches, the steep angle still provides a sturdy tip. Spyderco uses a hollow grind that results in a thin geometry.

The handle is subtly textured G-10. The texturing for me has that Goldilocks feel to it—just right. Sometimes because of new machining technology companies do things they can do and don’t think about whether they should. One of the things I most often find is over texturing of handles to the point the knife is uncomfortable to use. This isn’t the case with the Yojimbo 2. The texturing is very slight but undoubtedly present.

Straightedge’s Performance

Opening and closing the folder is smooth. It features Spyderco’s compression lock system, which has a crisp lock up. There’s no doubt your blade is locked thanks to a crisp snap as the lock engages. A handle profile with a number of broad finger grooves provides a secure grip. The broad grooves allow the knife to remain nimble in your grasp.

Out of the box, the Yojimbo 2 was razor sharp. It made eff ortless cuts through this packing crate strapping like the medium wasn’t even there.
Out of the box, the Yojimbo 2 was razor sharp. It made eff ortless cuts through this packing crate strapping like the medium wasn’t even there.

If I were to mention only one issue I have with the knife it would be something particular to me and people who suffer the same affliction: fat hands. My hands are beefy. On occasion, the compression lock, because it is located on the spine, catches me ever so slightly between the lock and the liner. Would this version of Spyderco’s would be No.
1 every time. The overall profile makes it easy to capture the rim on tight and loose pockets alike. Not every knife I have reviewed over the years comes back around to be a personal carry. I can tell you, though, the Yojimbo 2 will be making it into my EDC rotation.

Spyderco supplies one of its full-metal pocket clips for the Yojimbo 2. I can’t say this enough: If you had to make a list of the top-five-designed pocket clips, this version of Spyderco’s would be No. 1 every time. The overall profile makes it easy to capture the rim on tight and loose pockets alike. Not every knife I have reviewed over the years comes back around to be a personal carry. I can tell you, though, the Yojimbo 2 will be making it into my EDC rotation.

For more information on the Yojimbo 2, please visit spyderco.com.

Also Read:

TOPS Little Bugger: Svelte-Bladed Straight-Edge


Ultra-thin and razor-sharp, the TOPS Little Bugger makes for a nimble and practical EDC fixed blade.

What The Little Bugger Has To Offer:

  • Thin blade makes for a light and nimble knife.
  • Straight edge with a saber grind makes quick work of most jobs.
  • Sturdy Micarta handle is ample enough for a solid purchase.

I have reviewed more TOPS Knives models than I can remember. Some have been hit-and-miss and others have been pretty good with just an issue or two. My biggest complaint with TOPS knives over the years has been their blade geometry. Blade profiles, handles, and sheaths have all worked out in some of the designs. As for the blade geometry, I have always thought, But only if they went a little thinner!

The Little Bugger’s sheath makes for a great little belt carry that provides quick, easy access to the blade.
The Little Bugger’s sheath makes for a great little belt carry that provides quick, easy access to the blade.

Thin isn’t the issue with the company’s Little Bugger fixed blade. The blade is thin and cuts like a razor. I couldn’t be more ecstatic with it—seriously. As a knife reviewer, sometimes I find it hard to share what I think about a knife—if I hate it, someone will say I don’t know what I’m talking about, and if I really like it, someone will call me a paid shill.

Well, let the haters hate.

The Skinny

The Little Bugger has a nice wharncliff e-style blade that gives a good articulated tip very similar to a utility knife. TOPS uses a saber grind to form the geometry—oh, and did I mention it was thin? TOPS not only puts a nice, high grind on the blade but starts out with thin stock. To begin with, the blade measures only .9-inch thick. The Little Bugger cuts like a razor. It was a sheer pleasure to use right out of the box. For once, I’m not even going to complain about the choil, though when I first started cutting with it I couldn’t resist the what-if urge and strapped the blade.

You can peel a lime with many knives, but the straight edge of the Little Bugger excels at the task. A little  knife with a fi ne edge can do a range of chores, from semi-heavy to delicate
You can peel a lime with many knives, but the straight edge of the Little Bugger excels at the task. A little
knife with a fi ne edge can do a range of chores, from semi-heavy to delicate


The sheath is spot on. It is not big and clunky but snug fitting with a crisp lock. Best of all, the fit is so good there was no notorious plastic rattle during carry—it is quiet as a church mouse. (Though oddly enough, I can’t really tell you how quiet a church mouse is because I’ve never heard one.)

I know many like the Little Bugger style as a neck knife but TOPS includes a belt clip with this knife, and I see why. Between belt-carry clip and a tether carry system, you can EDC this little fixed blade with no problem. I won’t summarize what I think of the Little Bugger. If you haven’t got that by now, I haven’t written well enough. I will say, however, that now that TOPS has found this level of thin, I am excited and filled with anticipation as to see what other small fixed EDCs the company releases in the future.

Little Bugger Specs:
Overall Length: 5.75 inches
Blade Length: 2.38 inches
Blade Grind: Saber
Blade Material: 1095 Spring Steel
Handle Material: Tan Canvas Micarta
Carry: Injection-Molded Sheath
Weight: 37 ounces W/Sheath
Style: Fixed Blade
MSRP: $129

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What is a Drawknife? Three Examples

Whether for bushcraft, carving, or just straight woodworking, drawknives are handy tools that range quite a bit in size, function, and style. There are large drawknives to peel bark or hew small logs, as well as models for specialty purposes such as coopering or making chair seats. There even used to be specialty drawknives for shaping round handles small in diameter for brooms, rakes, and other implements.

Three small drawknives for carving and crafting are the focus this time: the MoraKniv Classic wood splitting knife, Flexcut Drawknife, and Veritas Drawknife. They are great because they are relatively compact and portable, and help comprise part of what you could call a portable rustic tool kit.


I know, right off the bat the MoraKniv Classic is called a wood splitting knife and not a drawknife. I thought this model would be interesting to test because it departs from the regular one-bevel blade geometry. The handle positioning is straight, giving the tool a compact configuration for transporting. It also comes with a sheath.

The author uses the MoraKniv Classic wood splitting knife in a push-cut motion to perform a stop cut while contouring the grip on a paddle.

Over the years, I’ve seen many a bushcrafter try and find a way for a standard knife to act as a drawknife. You can do many bushcraft chores with the MoraKniv Classic, from spoon work to shaping a tenon on a stool leg. You can do some of the same things with a regular knife, but with a drawknife it can be easier.

The 4.5-inch carbon steel blade has a dual bevel. An advantage of such a bevel is it makes the knife more versatile. A disadvantage is you don’t have depth control on a cut like you do with a single bevel. Single-bevel blades provide control similar to using a woodworking plane or a chisel. You shear through the levels you need to and, once you establish your depth of cut, you can remove material without bogging down by using a bit of depth control. Given that the dual bevel is a Scandi grind, it makes control easier than, say, a grind with a micro and major bevels on both sides. Control is most certainly easier than, for instance, with a convex grind. In the end, it is no big deal. Having to control a blade only becomes a problem when its design is not conducive to the job at hand.

Having in-line handles and a dual bevel, the Mora allows use like a sheath knife. It adds to the tool’s versatility and saves time, as you don’t have to put one knife down and pick up the other.

For the most part, control affects how much energy you put into making the blade do exactly what you want. In the case of a convex-ground blade, if you want to make a long, straight cut at the same depth, you will expend more energy than you should trying to keep the blade from “porpoising” (that is, front to rear bouncing of the blade). The alternative is simply getting used to making shorter controlled cuts more frequently.

The Classic cuts extremely well. Due to the straight handles and dual-bevel blade, you can switch and use it like a sheath knife in a split second.



Flexcut has a variety of tools covering chip, relief, and decoy carving, just to name three. The company also has a couple of drawknife styles. The Flexcut Drawknife is more of a traditional Western version. The 5-inch blade is 1095 carbon steel with the bevel brought to a mirror shine.

The Flexcut comes with a well-made sheath. It is always nice to have something protecting the edge—if not for safety’s sake, for that of preserving the edge from accidental harm.

Right out of the box, this thing is wicked sharp. It comes in a leather case with a peg-hole loop. It has a curved blade, which gives it a natural tendency to skew in a leading edge cut. If you haul the spine up a bit on your cuts, it will make more of a scraping action for a hollowing effect. It is a thin blade and not suited for hogging off large amounts of wood at one time. It is great for detailed jobs like the subtle contours you might find in a canoe yoke.

Using the Flexcut Drawknife, the author shapes the handle for a flat-board atlatl. The efficiency you gain using a drawknife is hard to beat for control and energy.

Such a small drawknife is a good tool not only to create art but to make utilitarian items. Given its Western-style handles, it doesn’t make a streamlined package for carrying in a pack like the Mora does, but it still has very little bulk and weight. The arched blade can be sharpened with a flat stone, though I find sharpening it with a small handheld stone and using a dynamic sharpening method easier. The Flexcut Drawknife is the kind of tool that suits the creative mind.


The Veritas tool company manufactures the last of the test drawknives in Ottawa, Canada. Sporting a 4-inch blade, it is a small carving-style model. Steel is PMV-11, a stainless with a Rockwell hardness of 61-63 HRC. Veritas made the switch from traditional tool steels like O1 and A2 to up cutting performance and edge retention. A case for the knife sells separately.

The Veritas Drawknife’s 20-degree angle cuts aggressively and you have complete control with the well-shaped handles. Here the knife is skewed compared to its cutting path. Skewing the knife provides a leading edge to the cut, reducing resistance

The company’s technical information says the bevel is ground at 20 degrees. To sharpen the Veritas, be sure the sharpener is of a flat design. Given the knife’s size, you can sharpen it in either a dynamic or a static style*. To cover/sharpen the entire bevel, you will need a flat surface. There is no micro bevel on the Veritas, though that’s not to say you can’t apply one. However, if you want to keep it original, you will need to cover the bevel.

The angling of the handles is a traditional Western style, though they have more of an elongated knob shape to them. The shape helps reduce fatigue. Because of the handle angling the Veritas does not offer as compact of a carry as the Mora, but the .125-inch-thick blade makes it a bit sturdier user than the
Flexcut. Handle material is torrefied maple. Due to the kilning process, the material has a greater stability to it without the use of chemicals. At the top of each handle is a brass ferrule.

The author stated he has been known to push a drawknife to make a quick cut. The Veritas Drawknife clearly warns not to do that. At a 20-degree bevel, you take a chance of damaging the edge if you were to catch and roll it.

It is a good-looking product and out of the box is ready to work. It is the most expensive of the review knives, yet is not so much more that you wind up scratching your head. A drawknife like this can be put to work doing a number of things limited only by your imagination. Veritas promotes it more as a carving tool and actually shows it making a decoy in the company’s marketing media.

Staying within the bounds of this tool, I can’t think why you couldn’t get chores done or entertain yourself by making pieces of art with it. Keeping you busy in the woods and not necessarily only during a survival situation promotes better mental health. It is a great little package and a good tool—I just think the company could include the sheath. When you hold the knife you see where the extra cost is as the precision work shows in the fit and finish.


Once you leave the big city behind, in order to thrive you must know how to make what you need. Many of the tools you carry will depend on what you plan on doing. If you’re building up a getaway spot, you might need to build items for the camp. When planning to build a more substantial base, you will need more tools. Again, it all depends on what you plan on doing. A good drawknife can greatly increase your cutting and carving options—not to mention that being able to use two hands greatly reduces fatigue. If you haven’t tried a drawknife yet, I highly recommend doing so.

*Static sharpening is when the stone is stationary, and dynamic is when the stone is moving.

A trick to sharpening drawknives both in the shop and field is to brace one handle against your armpit or chest. After bracing the knife, simply use a dynamic sharpening method with a small stone running parallel to the edge.

How to Sharpen a Serrated Knife

How to sharpen a serrated knife
The broad cone of the GATCO Scepter 2.0 comes in handy when working on the wide serrations of the CRKT Fossil.

How to Sharpen a Serrated Knife: Quick Tips

  • Use a small sharpening rod
  • Lock the rod into a “gullet,” the groove of the serration
  • Work the rod with slow, smooth motions away from the knife, applying light pressure
  • Work the rod in one direction; don’t rub it back and forth
  • Don’t sharpen wider than the serration

Sharpening Rods are Musts for Sharpening Serrated Knives

No matter what edge style of knife you carry, it must be sharpened. In the case of serrated blades, you need specialized tools, called sharpening rods.

Some rods, like the ones you’ll typically find in a kitchen, are large. Those won’t be helpful for working with small serrations. You need to find a small rod that will lock into place inside the serration. Don’t worry about sizing, though. Most small sharpening rods are tapered so that you’ll have the right fit no matter what.

Practice Makes Perfect

Learning how to sharpen serrated knives is like any other technique—you need practice to get good at it. I recommend buying some cheap knives and practicing before you move on to your $200 Spyderco. Also, remember that not all diamond sharpeners are created equal. Diamonds are manufactured and certain diamonds are more durable than others—then again, that’s a topic for a different time.

Know Your Geometry

There are a couple of key points about geometry for learning how to sharpen a knife with serrations.

As with a plain edge, you are polishing a surface. In the case of serrated blades, there are two geometries to work.

One is the gullet. The gullet is the internal section that normally has a curved shape between the points of a serrated edge. Since sharp gullets are necessary, many people mistakenly focus too much on the gullets and not enough on the teeth of the pattern. The teeth do the initial entry into the material and begin the cut.

Hence, when sharpening serrated blades you not only polish the gullet of the serration but also re-point the teeth at the same time. Much like sharpening a saw, you reform the teeth and restore the geometry of the teeth along with the geometry of the gullet.

Four Sharpeners for Sharpening Serrated Rods

How to sharpen serrated knives
From left, with manufacturer’s suggested retail prices in parentheses: Accusharp Diamond Compact Sharpener ($11.99); Smith’s Diamond Retractable Sharpener ($7.99); GATCO Scepter 2.0 ($25.95); and DMT Diafold Serrated Sharpener ($32.99). The knife is the author’s Spyderco Civilian.
Serrated knife sharpeners
The foursome in the closed position, from left: GATCO Scepter 2.0, DMT Diafold Serrated Sharpener, Smith’s Diamond
Retractable Sharpener and Accusharp Diamond Compact Sharpener.

Here’s a good place to start. Our lineup of four sharpeners consists of the GATCO Scepter 2.0, Smith’s Diamond Retractable Sharpener, DMT Diafold serrated sharpener and Accusharp Diamond Compact Sharpener.

GATCO Scepter 2.0

Serrated knife sharpening tips
The GATCO is a bit of a multi-tool with, from
right, a carbide sharpener, diamond cone and a ferrocerium rod all in one.

Of the four, the GATCO Scepter 2.0 is more multi-tool than sharpener only.

If you are into gadgets that serve more than one purpose, the Scepter 2.0 is for you. It has two tungsten-carbide blades for sharpening, a ferrocerium rod and a diamond cone sharpener. All are in a compact package that resembles a tactical pen. The diamond rod has a groove for sharpening fishhooks.

The cone has a medium-grade texture and a broad taper. The cone is 3.75 inches long and tapers from .113 to .392 of an inch in diameter. Why does the taper matter? If the taper is steep, during sharpening you will have a shorter cut as the cone will get too wide too quickly for some smaller serrations. Overall length: 6.125 inches.

If you’re looking for a sharpener as an everyday carry tool, the Scepter 2.0 is a good choice. The cone is a bit chunky but works fine for all but the smallest serrations. I am not a big fan of carbide sharpening blades because they hog off a lot of metal, though I don’t mind them on rough cutting tools. I haven’t had the Scepter long enough to testify to the durability of the diamond cone but so far it is holding up well.

Smith’s Diamond Retractable Sharpener

Sharpen a serrated knife
The Smith’s rod has three surfaces—flat, conical and round (inset)—to tackle any number of sharpening jobs. The flat surface in combination with the diamond cone makes it easy to sharpen combo-edge blades.

Smith’s Diamond Retractable Sharpener is the trimmest of the group and looks like a pen when collapsed. It is possible to use the cone shape to sharpen a plain edge, but with the Smith’s model the diamond coated sharpener has two ends.

One end has a flat section and the other is tapered for serrated edges. Of the group the Smith’s hone has the most aggressive grit. The body of the holder is aluminum and has a pen clip. (The GATCO Scepter could use a pen clip to complete it.) Closed length: 5.187 inches.

Again, I could see this tool in someone’s EDC kit, a tackle box or camping gear. At the tip the cone measures .06 inch and at the widest point .256 inch in diameter. With such a fine tip expanding in size over its 2.375-inch length, the Smith’s hone sharpens a wide range of serration styles. At a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $7.99, it does not have to last a lifetime to pay for itself.

DMT Diafold

Serrated knife sharpening tips
A sharpener with a fine tip like the DMT Diafold is needed to get small serration patterns back to sharp again.

The DMT Diafold serrated sharpener comes in three color-coded grits: coarse (blue) 325 mesh or 45 micron, fine (red) 600 mesh or 25 micron, and X fine (green) 1200 mesh or 9 micron. I used the red.

Of the quartet it was the longest, finest-grit tapered cone. Overall length: 4.5 inches. It tapers in diameter from .62 inch at the tip to .25 inch at the base.

To store the sharpening cone DMT uses a folding handle system similar to a butterfly knife. The handle is a clear polycarbonate. At 5 inches closed and as with the others the Diafold is compact enough to be EDC’d.

I’ve had a number of DMT Diafolds over the years and they are still in working order. You have to use some of the diamond sharpeners a lot before they will wear out. I will say when open, the very appearance of the Diafold can send shivers down your spine as it resembles an icepick. It works well and if you like something with a fuller handle to it, a Diafold might be your shtick.

Accusharp Diamond Compact Sharpener

Accusharp serrated knife sharpener
Accusharp uses a friction fit to hold the Diamond Compact Sharpener open and closed.

The Accusharp Diamond Compact Sharpener is 3.125 inches long with inch diameters of .06 at the tip and .305 at the base. A plastic body with a rubberized coating houses the unit—definitely low tech and follows the K.I.S.S. principle. A friction fit holds the sharpener open and closed. The fit is tight and you don’t have to worry about the two sides separating accidentally. An integral pen clip is on the main body’s housing. The clip doesn’t seem robust and I can see it eventually snapping off.

The sharpener has a medium-grit diamond coating and functioned well during testing. Accusharp includes a hook groove I find rather large. Maybe it’s for big fish. The closed length is the shortest of the group: 4.75 inches.

I like the design because as with the Smith’s sharpener it appears to be a standard pen as opposed to the GATCO model’s large-tactical-pen look. If you want to carry a sharpener and not let anyone know you have one so you aren’t constantly loaning it out, the Smith’s might be the ticket. As far as feel, the handle diameter is nice and comfortable.


Know Your Knives: What is a Recurve Blade?

A blade’s profile geometry has a considerable effect on how well the knife works for an intended use. A blade with a substantial curve facilitates slicing cuts along the length of the edge, as on skinners and some butcher knives, such as steak scimitars. Straighter blades work well for tip control and power cutting.

A recurve combines features of a couple of blade styles. Depending on the size of the knife and its intended use, the recurve provides certain benefits. The edge line is “S”-like in shape. The overall form leaves the front part of the blade with a sweeping curve. Such a curve provides the edge with belly for slicing and plow/furrow-like cuts, along with the ability to do detailed cuts using a reverse pinch grip.

Are Recurve Blades Better?

Recurve edge definition
You can see how material being cut can get locked in the pocket of a recurve blade, here with the Ronin Shinto.

As to which cuts work best with which knife, it depends on the other characteristics mentioned in the story. On large knives such as choppers, the use of a recurve gives the blade a weight-forward advantage.

Simply adding length to a blade does make it heavier by default, but, to actually have a weight-forward design, the front half of the blade needs to have more weight than the back. The idea is to look at the weight of the blade and not the whole knife to classify it as “weight-forward.”

Near the handle the recurve forms a pocket, which tends to lock material in. The subsequent curve formed by the pocket provides a leading edge to a cut, depending on the curve’s circumference. A leading edge is an edge angle that leads into the work, as opposed to approaching the cut at 90 degrees to the material. You can also generate a leading edge by angling a straight blade while cutting. On a recurve, the arch formed by the pocket provides a leading edge.

2019 Portland Knife Shows

Trend Watch: 3 Knives with Pistol Grips

Pistol grip knife handles
Pistol-grip knives from left, with manufacturer’s suggested retail prices in parentheses: Outdoor Edge Game Skinner ($88.95), ESEE Tertiary ($103.99) and TOPS Knives ATAX ($225).

Pistol grips aren’t only for firearms; they’re functional designs for knives, too. Here is a review of three examples.

Solid Build: ESEE Tertiary

ESEE Tertiary Push Dagger
The ESEE Tertiary was super sharp out of the box. The author used the knife to make aggressive slashes on a work jersey suspended from a hanger. A good test for an edge is not necessarily cutting something hard but something loose that could easily recoil from the edge when cutting. If the edge is sharp enough not to push the material but sever it, then the edge is truly sharp.

The ESEE Tertiary is a standard push dagger design. According to ESEE, SWAT officer Lee Smith designed the knife and named it “Tertiary” because of its place in a person’s weapons system. That is, first there’s your primary firearm, then your back up and then the Tertiary, which is for hand-to-hand.

It is a double-edged knife with top blade grinds. The top grind extends a third of the blade length only. The blade profile is that of a drop point. It is important to remember that a double-edged knife is illegal in some states (one such state is Michigan). Check your local knife laws whenever you choose a knife for everyday carry (EDC).

ESEE Tertiary push dagger review
The Tertiary sheath’s clip can be changed to accommodate right- or left-handed carries and vertical or horizontal positioning. The large hole in the tip of the sheath allows you to rig the Tertiary as a neck knife as well.
ESEE Sheath push dagger edc
The Tertiary comes with a molded sheath that sports a steel belt clip for you to attach the knife on a waistband, boot or assorted gear.

The Tertiary is a full-tang design with the blade positioned between the index and middle fingers. It has a flat-ground blade of 1095 carbon steel with a textured powder coat and textured G-10 scales.

The knife works as expected as a push dagger. For an edge to get the job done it takes getting used to the grip, but you can do minor chores like the type you normally encounter.

After a while, though, the pressure of the post between the two fingers really starts a hot spot. For the most part, given the nature of ESEE’s push dagger, I would carry a folder to do my EDC work and leave the Tertiary concealed and out of sight.

Comfy Classic: Outdoor Edge Game Skinner

Outdoor Edge Game Skinner Knife Review
The author tested the Game Skinner gut hook on a number of materials, including pulling it through a jersey with only the weight of the shirt holding it in place. How razor sharp does an edge have to be to slice a loose material instead of dragging it?

When it won the BLADE Magazine 1988 Imported Design Of-The-Year Award, the Outdoor Edge Game Skinner took the world of hunting knives by storm. It remained an Outdoor Edge mainstay ever since, and appears to have been ahead of its time.

As the name implies, the knife is for skinning game. It combines a blade edge with a gut hook. It is a beefy specimen with a 3.25-inch blade that is 2 inches wide. A hollow grind forms the main edge. The blade is AUS-8 stainless steel. I have had plenty of good knives made of AUS-8. It all depends on the heat treat and grind.

The handle is a textured, molded Kraton. I was impressed with it. It is brawny yet still comfortable, and the textured grip along with the slight give of the rubber kept the knife steadfast in my hand no matter how slimy things got.

Outdoor Edge Pistol Grip Push Dagger
The molded grip of the Outdoor Edge Game Skinner is designed for a three-finger hold. The rounded spine makes it easier to use a pinch grip and enables you to put forward pressure on draw cuts while maintaining a comfortable position.

During testing on leather, meat and hair on hide pieces, the edge held up well. The blade belly makes slicing cuts easy to perform, helping you get in there and skin. As for the gut hook, you might as well have a zipper on the animal.

It comes with a well-built leather sheath with snap closure. Though I personally wouldn’t have much use for this knife on my belt, I would keep it with my gear until it was time to field dress game. If you see yourself using this style of knife for hunting, it is a good quality edged tool. Over the years, I have learned that many hunters have their own style of cutlery they like to use and their own way of handling it.

Multi-Functional Tool: TOPS Knives ATAX

TOPS Knife Reviews
The author extended the ATAX handle using a piece of dry wood to make an axe for light chopping. For heavier use he would have used green wood and lashed the top. The addition of a long handle creates an obvious physical advantage.

From the get-go the TOPS Knives ATAX is one of those knives that catches your eye and maybe inspires a little pupil dilation.

The knife is designed as a multifunction tool. I have to say, though, sometimes you end up with something that does many things but never any one of them exceptionally well. Looking at the overall design, I would be more apt to see the ATAX as an ulu variant over a push dagger.

TOPS has been selling the knife for years. It is the design of the late Ron Hood. There are so many different tools involved in it that it would take a while to review each one. I will try to hit the main functions for now. The blade is quarter-inch-thick 1095 carbon steel with a powder coating. The handle is a black Micarta® affixed with screws. A saber grind forms the cutting edge, which I found too chunky for doing standard chores easily. The edge runs parallel to the grip just like on an ulu, but the grind is so thick that manipulations of the edge are difficult—not impossible but difficult. The design could be a great meat processor with a higher grind.

TOPS Knives ATAX push dagger knife review
Use a rocking motion to remove the ATAX from the sheath. As the knife emerges the sharp tip presents itself, which the author stated he found a bit dangerous.

There are a number of ways to complete a cut with the knife, as the platform allows you a variety of holds. For instance, holding it upside down enabled me to better do things like whittling or shaving. The ATAX requires getting familiar with, and even then some using methods are more practical than others.

Taking a long period to set up your handholds and the material for cuts should be balanced with the practicality of effort toward the job being done. One of the design purposes for the knife is to attach it to a stick and use it as an axe. The thick edge serves the chopper feature well and allows the ATAX to take a beating. Still, as noted, the grind does many things but none exceptionally well.

Other tools designed into the ATAX are a range finder, clinometer, compass, bowl drill socket and wire cutter. A molded Kydex sheath with double steel clips provides Scout carry. The way the sheath operates gives me cause for concern as the method of drawing the knife from the sheath can easily result in injury if you are not paying close attention.

Unsheathing requires a rocking motion that leads with the pointed part of the curved edge. You will want to make sure everything is clear of the blade tip as it rocks free.

The design shows ingenuity and in a pinch serves as a backup tool. Would I want it as my primary knife? I would have to do some major changes to the edge geometry, as the ulu-style use is very serviceable.

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