Knives are shaped for purpose

For more information on the woodworker’s knife, see our beginner site Common Woodworking.

I often make the mistake of saying that ‘this’ or ‘that’ is the best ‘this’ or ‘that’ and that one ‘that’ is better than two ‘thisses’ and so on. The knife I posted on earlier is a case in question. I have a collection of knives I consider my favourites. Most of them I made because I wanted particular steel or a certain shape or size. It takes me about an hour to make a knife from raw stock and rolled steel. The shapes fit my hands differently and the curves in the blades carve my work.

Many of you have commented on the knife I use made by Stanley. It’s a great knife. Purists might say a hand made knife would always be better than one mass made by Stanley and traditionalists might say wooden handles are best. Inevitably it seems there must always be only one best one. Spokeshaves come from cast iron to all wood and of course any combination of wood and metal. Traditionalists always say there is no spokeshave like the old wooden ones with tangs. Sometimes I totally agree with the one speaking as i shape the spindle for a Windsor. Then I smooth the curved top rail of an arched cabinet door made scribed to its mesquite frame and nothing compares to a Veritas spokeshave because it gives me an index of fineness essential to my work. There are times when a bronze #151 made by my son for me and fitted with a Ron Hock iron knocks the socks off of all spokeshaves for some unknown reason and then I reach back for the all-wooden one because it has a quality the others don’t have for a particular aspect of work in front of me and five spokeshave lie on the bench. So it can be with knives and planes and saws of each type. For want of exactness, the closest word to describe this wonderful phenomenon might be magical if it didn’t fall so far short. One tool in one pair of hands might be clumsy – placed in another pair the tool suddenly becomes working, creative art.


  1. My wife and I have had similar conversations about hand planes. I love my #7 jointer and my #4 1/2 smoother, whereas she loves her #5 jack plane and her #3 smoother. My tools are too big for her hands, and her tools are too small for mine. The same goes for our chisel handles. We now have his-and-hers tool chests.

    – Steve S.

    1. I like this, this should be the only gender specific aspect of how and why there is a difference. In actuality, it is often not even gender specifics so much as size and weight-to-strength ratios. I know severl ‘people’ who benefit from smaller tools because they are smaller, have non manual jobs or whatever. That’s why ‘Gent’s” tools were developed. I am not a small man, but I have a Disston panel saw that’s only 18″ long and love it.

Comments are closed.

Privacy Notice

You must enter certain information to submit the form on this page. We take the handling of personal information seriously and appreciate your trust in us. Our Privacy Policy sets out important information about us and how we use and protect your personal data and it also explains your legal rights in respect of it. Please click here to read it before you provide any information on this form.