Different forms of the drawknife were used by cabinetmakers, carpenters, coachmakers, coopers, and wheelwrights. Because the Dominys performed the tasks of all these woodworkers, the drawknife was a necessary tool. They could also be used to thin or round the sides and tops of shingles, staves, wheel spokes, tool handles, stool legs, and anything that might be held in a shaving horse or in a bench vise.

Drawknife, Nathaniel Dominy V (Maker), 1800-1830. Maple, soft; Iron. 1.4" (H) , 14" (L) , 5" (W). Museum purchase with funds provided by Henry Belin du Pont, 1957.0026.261.

Variations of this tool were called Chamfer Knives or Froes, commonly used by coopers for splitting shingles, lath, staves, and clapboards. The top of the froe blade was struck with a club while its handle was twisted back and forth to split a block of wood along its grain. The shiny, worn top of the blade is evidence that it received much pounding from the Dominys during carpentry and coopering work.


The spokeshave, a mix between a drawknife and a smoothing plane, was also used by the Dominys to remove parts of a wood surface. Thought to have originated as a wheelwright's tool for smoothing spokes, it later became a useful tool for many types of woodworkers such as cabinetmakers, carpenters, and coopers. The Dominys did trade in each of these jobs, and used spokeshaves to smooth the curves of cabriole legs, chair seats, and cresting rails, among other furniture features.