I always have had problems with using a spokeshave, and assumed it was purely my technique. Spokeshaving always jarred and left marks in any work that would need to be sanded/scraped out later at a great expense of time.
Despite quite some experience of successfully refurbishing, fettling and using hand planes, for some reason I had never even thought of fettling my spokeshave using the same principles. I had naively assumed that so “simple” a tool would just work with a sharp blade. Turns out I was very wrong and I can’t believe I had this weird blindspot in my knowledge.
I had an Axminster Rider (“Professional Quality” LOL) 151 style spokeshave. To fettle I did these:
1.Scraped black paint off of the bed. This demonstrated the paint was probably only there to cover up the very uneven casting surface.
2.Filed the bed flat. The edges where the blade seats for a few mm are now flat but there is still a large recessed area in the centre that would be too difficult to remove entirely. In the future I may shim the blade with some plate steel which could make a more rigid replacement bed as well as closing up the mouth.
3.Flattened the leading edge of the lever cap.
4.Flattened the sole of the spokeshave. This demonstrated that it wasn’t nearly as flat as I assumed.
5. Enlarged/extended the retaining screw hole in the lever cap with saw files so that the lever cap can move lower, engage with the lateral cutouts to provide more rigidity and clamp the edge of the blade closer to the action. I don’t know if this was actually necessary but it seemed to help and hasn’t caused any discernible problems.
Blade as sharp as before.
The difference in performance of the spokeshave is amazing. Now I actually only have myself to blame for any mistakes!
Thanks for these tips. I brought a spokeshave in what I thought was excellent condition at a car boot sale for £2. The blade was pretty sharp but I have been unable to get it to take a shaving. The last time I used a spokeshave was at school about 40+ years ago, and I seem to recall they were easy to use. I’m going to try your suggestions at the weekend and see how I get on.
I have and use a number of spokeshaves and the only real trick is blade sharpness. I try to keep the blade set as shallow as possible, except on the Stanley #151. Because it has an adjustable blade I set one side high and the other low, in order to be able to use it for a heavy or light shaving without readjusting the blade. I also have a # 1 circular spoke shave the is also razor sharp and set very shallow. I try to set the blade at no more than .015 or .020 in order to keep it from cutting too deep. It takes a while to get use to using a spokeshave ,but it is well worth the time and effort I find.
My spoke-shave stopped working entirely after I sharpened the blade for the first time. After a lot of messing about to no avail, I realised that I had sharpened the bevel at too steep an angle and the blade was riding on the bevel instead of the sharpened edge.
I re-sharpened with a shallower bevel and all was well after that.
I tried your suggestions and I’m now taking great shavings with it. I think the big offender was the paint on the sole. Once the paint was removed, and before I sharpened the blade it was already taking shavings. The paint does hide a multitude of sins, so perhaps that’s why they were painted in the first place.
Ron Hock says it should be about 27 degrees, I sharpen all my blades to 25 degrees and they work well at that angle. Just remember that they need to be “scary sharp” not like I used to do and that was almost sharp. When a spoke shave is sharp they work very well. Good Luck.
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