Do I need both a drawknife and spokeshave?
A spokeshave seems to be the little brother of a drawknife, and I've seen both used to make spindles. But do they work the same? Should I add both to my tool collection?
— Dennis Royster, Camden, N.J.
You'll see both tools used for shaping spindles, chair legs, and other curved forms, Dennis, but they work differently. A drawknife removes a lot of wood quickly with little finesse, so unless you prefer handwork for roughing out workpieces, you may not find much use for a drawknife.
A spokeshave ( above) more closely resembles a hand plane, with its adjustable, replaceable blade fitted tightly to the tool's body for finer shavings. The short sole of a spokeshave comes flat or rounded, making it a good choice for shaping and smoothing curved and flat surfaces that other tools can't, such as cleaning up a cabriole leg after bandsawing it to rough shape. Unlike a drawknife, you can push or pull a spokeshave, depending on grain direction and the most comfortable working position.
As the name suggests, you grasp the handles of a drawknife (below) and draw the single-bevel cutting edge toward you. As with a bench chisel, you use the tool bevel-up for hogging off large chips, and flip it over with the bevel down for finer, controlled work.