How to Use a Spokeshave

Although originally used to shape rods, wheel spokes and furniture legs, you can think of a spokeshave as a short-soled plane perfect for finishing small or tight areas. Generally used for finish work, the spokeshave is easy to adjust and use - with practice.

Anatomy Of A Spokeshave
Spokeshaves are made of wood, metal or a combination of the two. There are several major parts of the tool:

  • Handles - The handles of a spokeshave are typically wooden and either circular or oval in profile.
  • Body - Most modern spokeshaves feature metal bodies. The body of the spokeshave holds the blade and the adjustment screws. The bottom of the body (called the sole) should be absolutely flat so the spokeshave is easy to control and doesn't mar the surface of your work.
  • Blade - The blade of a spokeshave is shaped like a wide, flat "u". The upward facing legs of the blade are used to hold and adjust the height of the blade. Avoid dropping your spokeshave or nicking the blade with metal objects-most blades will have to be replaced rather than repaired if they become damaged.
  • Adjustment screws - Adjustment screws are used to control the depth of the spokeshave blade. In some designs, the adjustment screws also controls the horizontal angle of the blade.

Operating A Spokeshave

  • Adjust the blade. Following the manufacturer's instructions, adjust the blade height to control the amount of wood removed. You can cut a thicker shave in green wood or when shaping your work. You'll want a thinner cut for seasoned or soft wood, or for finishing work.
  • Hold the spokeshave. A spokeshave can be used by either pushing or pulling the tool. To pull the spokeshave, place your thumbs on either side of the body, above the blade. Wrap your fingers around the handles in a comfortable but firm grip. To push the spokeshave, position the blade away from you, place your thumbs on either side of the back of the body and wrap your fingers around the handles.
  • Moving the spokeshave. A spokeshave will respond to improper use by jumping across the work surface (called chatter). Chatter can be avoided by keeping most of the weight on the cutting edge of the blade. When your weight presses back on the heal of the body, the cutting edge will lose contact, resulting in chatter.
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