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Log Peeling - Making a Drawknife

Friggin1234's picture

I've got some large cedar logs to peel and my little 12" drawknife isn't going to do.


Anyone got experience with making a drawknife? I've heard that you can use a leaf spring. What is the technique?





(post #52926, reply #1 of 16)

Hey Scott,

I'm no expert in these matters, but I think you want a "bark spud".  Long wooden handle, like a shovel, but with a 4"-5" steel blade at the end of it.  Sort of like a chisel.  As I understand it, once you get that blade under the bark, it peels off easier.

But if you want to make a humungous drawknife, I've heard leaf springs are the way to go.  But I've never done that either. 

Anything else I can give advice on?  I might not really know what I'm saying, but I'll give  the advice! 


Edited 3/26/2002 12:27:21 AM ET by Thomas Moen

(post #52926, reply #2 of 16)

In general you can either work a piece of steel cold or hot. Either take a piece of suitable steel and grind it without overheating, or harden and temper the steel after shaping. Heating and losing the temper also opens up options of bending or forging. Cold grinding a piece of steel that is hard enough for a draw knife will be a tedious process.

I make no claims at being an iron monger but that is a basic concept to your task.

joe d

(post #52926, reply #3 of 16)

I have a bark spud, like Tom describes, and it works great for peeling heavy bark, like Douglas Fir. But for WRC I'd think something lighter might work better. Maybe you could sharpen a decent edge on a regular spud, you know, the type we scrape concrete forms with?

A draw knife would do a cleaner job, if that's what you're after, but geez, that sounds like a lot of "bent over" work. The nice thing about a spud is the long handle, so you'd be upright most of the time. I've heard guys say they peel bark with a shovel and finish it up with a pressure washer, but never tried that myself.

Edited 3/26/2002 8:43:45 AM ET by jim blodgett

(post #52926, reply #4 of 16)

Scott, The spud is the way to go for alot of bark peeling. Cedar would be easy as well because of the bark, especially green. You can buy a spud from a number of places, but I had excellent luck with one I made from a common ice chipper picked up at a local hardware store. I was building trail in the backcountry and also appreciated the weight of the ice chipper in packing in. The longer handle than ####traditional spud, more than made up the difference in use.

I kept it the full original width ( about 6" ) but reground the edge to a more chisel shape. A good mill file was all I needed to keep it sharp.

You can use your 12" draw knife to clean up any imperfections you may find after the logs are barked.


walk good

walk good

(post #52926, reply #5 of 16)

Thanks all. I've seen bark spuds but never gave it much thought. Sounds like the way to go.





(post #52926, reply #6 of 16)

I think Woodcraft sells a curved drawknife that might work for you. Don't recall how expensive it is, though.

If you and up trying to make one, go to a blacksmith. (Lots of amateur ones around nowadays - It's becomming a popular hobby) See if you can get them to hammer it out as a project for you. They're often tired of making hooks and chain links, and are looking for something new to work on. They should know how to draw out the edge then re-temper it for you.

(post #52926, reply #7 of 16)

Up here in Vancouver/Whistler, I've used drawknives made out of old lumber planer blades with handles welded on the ends...(Read LARGE drawknife)...they last a long time and are easier to sharpen than the smalll ones..

If it is to be, 'twil be done by me..

(post #52926, reply #8 of 16)

Hey Philter.


I'm in Pemberbush, just North of you. My friend Graeme has one of those beasts you described. It cuts bark, knots, arms, legs, and anything else that gets in its way. I call it Drawknife-Zilla. He's offered to let me borrow it. I'll compare it to the bark spud.


Thanks for the reply,



(post #52926, reply #9 of 16)

Hey Scott M, I must have met,passed or know you! I lived in Pemby, across from the Pony, and worked for a number of companies up at the Old Mill. Small world. I worked for Cam Mcivor and Bernd Carolsfeld....hey wait a mnute ,you're not the famous wheelie-ing Scotty are you? Cheers, Phil.


P.S....Graeme...Murphy or....

If it is to be, 'twil be done by me..

Edited 3/26/2002 11:21:30 PM ET by Philter

(post #52926, reply #10 of 16)

Ha! No, I'm a computer geek by trade; work for the school district. I live in Owl Ridge and am slowly trying to develop five acres with my wife. We've got some log work to do this summer with WRC that we've cleared; nothing fancy....  a firewood shed and some post & beam work in front of our first building. We hope to start a house next summer. My friend Graeme is a log broker for Weyerhaueser.

I'll keep an eye out for you.



(post #52926, reply #12 of 16)


Don't know where this is gonna show up, hope you get it.  A group of us helped a buddy peel all of the logs for his cabin last spring.  The log builder lent us his drawknives.  They were made from Zamboni blades scrounged off of the zamboni at the local arena.  Held an edge like you wouldn't believe, hard as hell, had to be sharpened with a belt sander.   Nothing fancy just a piece of blade about 14" long with pipe handles welded on at about a 50 degree angle.  We all used the drawnknives in preference to the bark spuds.  Straddle the log and go to it.  I'm in Alberta and I'd figure it's as easy to find a zamboni where you are.  And it's a lot of work.


(post #52926, reply #14 of 16)

Thanks Guys.


Scott, yup, got your message. Zamboni blades sound good. I'll keep it in mind, as there are a few areans around here. They sound similar to the ones on "Drawknife-Zilla" that Philter and I described. About 1/2" thick of high-carbon steel and heavier than hell, cut from the knife of a monster commercial planer. When you haul on those handles you'd better be prepared for a lot of stuff to fly! Not real pretty work, but it is great for peeling bark and shaping logs. The fine work is done with mini-grinders, hand planers, and random orbiters.


Thanks for the help,



(post #52926, reply #13 of 16)

My present position down here is timber-framing guy, teaching a bunch of stick and nail carp.s, Anything you need, I can help from here or at your site, feel free to call, cheers,Phil.


Still have lots of contacts up there too.



If it is to be, 'twil be done by me..

(post #52926, reply #11 of 16)

Wait about a month yet, at least till sap rises well. When young and stupid, tried to peel DF and RWC in October and again in March, hard job, lots of stuck bark.  Tried freshly felled DF in June, peeled like a candy bar.

The old WH mill in Everett stripped  logs all year very successfully with 6000psi pressure washers.

(post #52926, reply #15 of 16)


I'm over here on the island and I have a draw knife made from a leaf spring, acquired from one of our local log builders. Works great (still a job for a grunt though) I've also used a spud but would rather use the draw knife. Could e-mail you a pic. if your interested in trying to build one. It's good to see more B.C. boys on the site I quess were boycotting everything American except Fine Homebuilding.

Edited 3/28/2002 12:38:46 AM ET by KC

(post #52926, reply #16 of 16)

Thanks, KC. I'll love a pic or two. Please send to