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    How to Tune-Up a Spokeshave





    more on woodworking safety

    Tools and Materials

    Well, I went and did it again. Browsing the tables at a local flea market, I stumbled upon a nice vintage Stanley No. 52 spokeshave. This no-frills tool was dusty and dirty but I knew there was a little gem hidden beneath the grime. If you've ever tried using a spokeshave to plane the edge of a curved workpiece and found your results to be poor, chances are your tool needs a tune up. Follow along as I take you step-by-step through the entire process of tuning up this little workshop workhorse.

    A Note on Sharpening

    Sharpening a spokeshave blade isn't much different than sharpening a plane iron. In fact, I found a great video put out by the folks at Lie-Nielsen Toolworks that covers the subject in great detail.


    How to Make

    Flatten the Soleclick to enlarge

    Flatten the Sole: Just like a handplane, the sole of your spokeshave needs to be nice and flat in order for it to slide atop the workpiece and pull smooth, full-width shavings. I set some 100-grit sandpaper atop my tablesaw until I achieved a nice, even polish all around the mouth opening. Then I worked my way up through the grits--all the way to 320-grit.

    Flatten the Soleclick to enlarge

    An Even Polish: This is what you're after--a nice even polish around the entire perimeter of the mouth opening. The mouth needs to rest perfectly flat, atop your workpiece.

    Flatten the Soleclick to enlarge

    Flatten the Lever Cap: While you're at it, don't forget to flatten the lever cap as well. Nice, positive contact between the bottom of the cap and the blade will help to prevent chatter. I'm about half-way through the process in this photo.

    Flatten the Soleclick to enlarge

    Flatten and Smooth the Bed: After flattening the back of the cap iron, I went ahead and smoothed up the curved edge on the opposite side.

    Flatten the Soleclick to enlarge

    A Flat Perimeter: The bed atop which the blade sits should also be perfectly flat. My little stanley had a pretty nasty looking bed--covered with old japaning and some minor pitting. I wasn't able to fit a mill file into the opening so I opted to secure the tool between a couple of bench dogs, then I wrapped some sandpaper around the thick straightedge of my engineer's square. It got the job done in short order.

    Flatten the Soleclick to enlarge

    Clean Up the Throat: I didn't go too crazy here. I just wanted to ensure that the entire perimeter of the bed was flattened. Notice the polish all around the bed. With any luck, everything ought to fit nice and tight.

    Flatten the Soleclick to enlarge

    Insert the Blade: While I was there, I went ahead and cleaned up the throat as well. Once again, mine was pretty gritty. All of this work smoothing and flattening will help ensure that your shavings pass through the throat with ease as they curl off your workpieces.

    Flatten the Soleclick to enlarge

    Full Width Shaving with No Tearout: The easiest way to insert the blade in a spokeshave is to register it against a flat workpiece. Then set the blade and lever cap atop the bed. The cutting edge should be resting atop the wood and the lever cap should be set back from the cutting edge just a hair - say 1/32-in. Tighten the screws and take your spokeshave out for a test drive.

    Flatten the Soleclick to enlarge

    Pull the Perfect Shaving: A shaving that runs the full width of the stock and exhibits no signs of tearout means you've done your job.

    Flatten the Soleclick to enlarge

    A Soft Tap Adjusts the Blade: There you go. The proof is in the pudding. Here's the first shaving I pulled from the newly-tuned spokeshave.

    Flatten the Soleclick to enlarge

    If your shavings are too thick, you'll have to slightly loosen the screw and back the blade and cap iron out ever-so-slightly. Next, re-tighten the set screw. Give it a test run but don't be surprised if you find the blade isn't engaging with the wood. To micro-adjust the blade down to the contact point, register the sole against a flat piece of stock and use your thumb to secure the tool against the blow from a very light tap of the hammer. This will push the blade down. Remember to make one very slight tap and make adjustments incrementally. No sweat!



    Ed_Pirnik