Tuesday, October 15, 2013

My Spokeshave

  A long time ago, when I still lived with my parents and had a small workshop in the back yard I needed to make a couple of hammer handles.  In those days I had very few tools and tended to buy tools when I have a job for them.  Shaping wood for tool handles is a classic use for a spokeshave, I knew that because I had read it in books.  (this is before the internet, You tube and Google.)

   I had a fairly good block plane, which I still have and decided that I should have a spokeshave to shape these hunks of hardwood.  The hardwood was reclaimed skid material so I have no idea what sort of wood, but it was hard, probably ash.  After roughing the basic shape out with a jig saw I set to work with my hand tools.  I already loved my block plane and was pretty good at using it though I suspect that it was fairly dull.  The spoke shave was a bafflement and a disappointment.  It seemed as though it was meant only for tearing and gouging wood and certainly not a tool for finishing or hardwood.

  This tool was bought before the great hand tool revival kicked in and so this was pretty much what was available. If you go on line now there is a vast array of spokeshaves of all stripes and prices.  I though I was clever in buying a tool with two profiles thus making it twice as useful. ??!!  What I found is that I couldn't get  either blade to do anything.  All it did was tear and wreck my work.  Since I am not inclined to blame the tool, I put it away and ignored it for a few years. Later I read a library book, tried again and still had no success.  Years continued to pass. 

   A few days ago I had finally put in the time to sharpen my home forged lathe roughing gouge and then it needed a handle.

   I knocked the corners off the laminated handle and started to work with my block plane, the one from years and years ago.  It occurred to me that I was older, smarter and had the entire resources of the internet available to me, so I should be able to get that silly little spoke shave working.  I read some blogs and watched some videos and then took the old but barely used spokeshave out and started to check it out. First thing, it was so dull that it wouldn't have cut cheese let alone oak.  Now I have a "work sharp" and I can get the spokeshave's blade very sharp.  Very sharp is absolutely critical to success with a spokeshave I discovered,  now the blade is very sharp, the tool does it job just fine.

  I can see this little tool become a handy go-to tool now that I have figured it out.

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