What Is A Spar Hook? What Is A Spar Hook Used For?

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A Spar Hook is a smaller version of a billhook. A spar hook was traditionally used in thatching for splitting hazel or willow thatching spars; a thatching spar is effectively a giant staple placed in the thatching to grip the thatching to the roof. A spar hook is often used as a lighter version of a billhook for smaller coppicing and gardening work. A spar hook can also be used for managing crops such as grape vines.

A spar hook consists of a handle and a blade with a bevelled cutting edge running along one edge. The blade is curved at the top end to form a hook shape. The end of the spar hook sometimes is made with a blunt end and sometimes with a point. The handle which is virtually always wooden and the core of the blade are inline. The majority of spar hooks have a blade length between 5" - 7".

Spar Hook Parts

A typical spar hook consists of the following parts:

spar hook parts

  • A - Cutting Edge
  • B - Blade
  • C - Hook
  • D - Handle

Typical spar hook uses include:

  • Coppicing / Forestry Management
  • Gardening
  • Thatching

What to look for when buying a spar hook?

  • Check the blade profile is the correct profile for the intended use.
  • Check the handle is comfortable to hold.
  • Check the tool has a good balance (especially for regular users) - you don't really want a tool where the blade is really heavy and the handle is small and light as you want to be working with the tool not against the tool. Similarly, ideally, you don't want a spar hook with a big long bulky handle and a small blade as this will be a little cumbersome.

Extra things to look out for when buying a secondhand spar hook

  • Make sure the handle is not infested with woodworm - if there are worm holes in the handle, these should be treated to prevent infestation of other tools and neighbouring wood. If there are lots of worm holes, the strength and structure of the handle could be compromised which can be dangerous when wielding this tool.
  • Make sure the blade is fitted to the handle tightly with no movement - if it moves/wobbles you will loose some control of the tool, it will also mean there is higher risk the blade may separate from the handle while in use.
  • Ideally make sure there are no large splits in the handle - if the handle has a large split(s) there is increased chance the blade will start to moves/wobble. There is also risk the handle could break while in use. Of course a new handle can be refitted.
  • Check the cutting face for pitting and faults - if the cutting edge area is full of holes and divots, it will make sharpening the tool to a good edge much more difficult and if the pitting is really bad the tool will need grinding. The reason being, when these pitting holes correspond with the edge of the blade being sharpened it will result in the cutting edge having nibbles and not having a complete uninterrupted sharp edge. If the cutting edge has nibbles then the spar hook will not cut effectively.

There have been a number of spar hook makers in the past, with just a few present makers. Below are a list of a few well known spar hook makers:

Old Spar Hook Makers:

  • Elwell
  • Skelton (C T Skelton and Co)
  • Whitby

New Spar Hook Makers:

  • Bulldog
  • Morris (of Dunsford)


(i) This review/article may give warning(s) / advisory notes / cautions / guidelines given in good faith, any such information should not be solely relied upon and seen as the exhaustive list of warnings / advisory notes / cautions / guidelines. Refer to good safety practices for the safety of you and others. Refer to good practices for the good health of your tool and property.
(ii) The details here are given in good faith, the details are constantly growing and evolving, there is scope for error and shouldn't be fully relied upon, please confirm any details for yourself by performing additional research from reliable sources.

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