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Spokeshaves 101: Sharpening and Usage

How to Sharpen Spokeshaves

I sharpen a spokeshave the same way I do a chisel or plane blade.  After all a spokeshave is still a hand is just a really small one.  The shorter blades are great opportunity to teach yourself free hand sharpening because the blades register so easily on the stone or whatever you use to sharpen. 

Low angle shaves will pretty much balance on their bevel alone so are even easier to sharpen free hand.  The vintage shaves with thinner blades can pose a bit more difficultly and a block of wood cut to the bevel angle (usually 25 degrees) will help you keep the bevel on the stone.  Or you can reduce the bevel angle to 20 degrees and widen it to feel it better without dramatically reducing the durability of the edge for light work that is common with a spokeshave.

Spokeshave Tips

  • Use the tiny blades as a perfect entry to free hand sharpening
  • Set the blade purposely at an angle to get rough to finish cuts in one shave
  • Low angle shaves will handle tighter radii curves over the plane body shaves
  • Light, fingertip grip to feel the blade responding to the wood geometry
  • Remove the corners then the hump in the middle to avoid taking such a wide bite
  • Keep pressure on the front of the shave to keep the blade in contact throughout a curve

Learn More in The Hand Tool School

A lot of the information I share in these tool 101 broadcasts is covered in detail in the Tool Library in The Hand Tool School.  Along with a lot of other useful stuff showing spokeshaves in action.  So I have a deal: use "rwwlive" to save 10% at The Hand Tool School

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