What Is A Spokeshave? What Is A Spokeshave Used For?

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A spokeshave is a type of small narrow faced plane with handle bars used for shaping and shaving pieces of curved wood.

Different Types Of Spokeshaves

There are many different designs of spokeshave all of which have a central blade(s) protruding through the sole with a handle extending either side of the central body to form handle bars.

Spokeshaves are typically made with flat soles, rounded soles, convex soles or hollow / concave soles however there are other shaves with more specialist soles. There are spokeshaves made from wood, from brass, from cast iron, and from malleable iron. Most spokeshaves which are sold today are made from some form of iron.

Using A Spokeshave

Spokeshaves are used by either pulling or pushing the tool to shave thin shavings from the piece of woodwork. Generally spokeshaves are used in a similar way to planes, as such the spokeshave is usually used by pushing the spokeshave away.

History Of The Spokeshave

The spokeshave is a tool which historically has been used since early days for shaping and fine-tuning pieces of wood such as chair legs and wheel spokes to name a couple of applications.

Due to this type of tool having a tradition of being used to shave wooden wheel spokes, the name ‘spoke-shave’ was born.

wooden spokeshave

The earlier types of traditional spokeshave were made from wood, usually Beech or Boxwood. Due to the nature of wood, the wooden spokeshaves were prone to the sole / mouth being damaged when worked heavily over time.

The Beech spokeshaves were particularly susceptible, as such the Beech spokeshaves are often found with repairs / improvements to the sole. Boxwood is a much more hard wearing wood as such the old boxwood shaves are often found in good condition.

Wooden spokeshaves are still made today by a few specialist makers and hobbyist makers. The blade on the most common wooden spokeshaves were set at a very low angle. Wooden spokeshaves are still favoured by some users today.

iron spokeshave

The next generation of spokeshave evolved from being made from wood to being made from cast iron / malleable iron. The iron spokeshave gradually revolutionised the spokeshaves with the wooden spokeshaves and metal spokeshaves being sold side-by-side for a good 70 years plus until the wooden spokeshaves market share dropped right off by the 1960’s.

The cast iron spokeshave generally was much more hard-wearing than the wooden predecessor, they had a blade which was easier to sharpen, and a blade which was easier to position.

flat spokeshave

What is a flat bottom spokeshave used for?

A flat sole spokeshave is used to shape and shave convex curves.

round spokeshave

What is a round bottom spokeshave used for?

A round sole spokeshave is used to shape and shave concave curves.

adjustable spokeshave

What is an adjustable spokeshave?

An adjustable spokeshave has a fine adjustment mechanism for adjusting the blade to the required position, usually in the form of one or two wheel nuts located with the top of the spokeshave blade.

non adjustable spokeshave

What is a non-adjustable spokeshave?

The blade on a non-adjustable spokeshave must be set in place by hand. A non-adjustable spokeshave has no fine adjustment mechanism for adjusting the blade.

chamfer spokeshave

What is a chamfer spokeshave?

A chamfer spokeshave or chamfer shave is a special type of spokeshave tool for forming chamfers. See 'what is a chamfer tool?' for more information.

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

Old Spokeshave Makers:

  • Marples (William)
  • Millers Falls
  • Preston (Edward)
  • Record
  • Stanley

New Spokeshave Makers:

  • Clifton
  • Irwin Record
  • Kunz
  • Lie Nielsen
  • Veritas
  • Stanley

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