Making a Wooden Spokeshave: Episode 1

Wooden Spokeshave EP1 Keyframe

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Paul starts by shaping, drilling, and beveling the blade. The blade is then hardened, which can be done in various ways. With that done, the blade and a simple template can be used to layout the spokeshave body and the blade recess and escapement are cut.

79 Comments

  1. António on 21 July 2017 at 11:06 am

    Thank you WWMC Team!
    Quite helpful!

  2. Michael177 on 21 July 2017 at 11:30 am

    Is that O1 steel?

    • Philip Adams on 21 July 2017 at 11:36 am

      Yes it is. All the materials information is on the project info page.

      • Martin G. on 21 July 2017 at 4:04 pm

        For people from Germany, who can’t find O1-Steel, you can search for the “Werkstoffnummer” 1.2842 or 1.2510. Both are oil-hardening steels and have a very similar composition and properties to the O1 type steel. I’m not absolutely certain, but I think this code/norm is used in other European countries as well.

        • Sandy on 21 July 2017 at 7:43 pm

          You should be able to google that type steel and get the hardening and tempering temperature information. As an alternative you could also use an air hardening tool steel and not have to bother with the oil. Do the same for finding the temperatures for the hardness you want. If you have access to a tool steal company there are lots of options such as a “Half Hard” tool steal that will work without the hardening/tempering process. But as the name imply it is a bit harder than the annealed steal making it a bit harder to work with. I hope I’m not stomping toes but i have been a machinist for many years. Just offering some suggestions.

      • Paul Whoknows on 22 July 2017 at 8:58 am

        Hello everyone, I have a question, can I use 304 steel? thank you very much, I really enjoyed this episode, thanks 🙂

        • Eric Lundholm on 24 July 2017 at 3:15 pm

          you can use any tool steel, as long as your comfortable with tempering it. Paul used a steel that is available and easy to temper. I myself would use an old circular saw blade and try a few experiments to find the right temper. IE water or oil or a combination.

        • Eric Lundholm on 24 July 2017 at 3:20 pm

          304 does not appear to be a tool steel, buy some 01 off ebay.

        • Edmund on 24 July 2017 at 3:28 pm

          You can use it but you can’t harden it with heat treatment. None of the 300 series stainless steels can be through-hardened.

          • Paul Whoknows on 14 August 2017 at 8:42 pm

            Could it be a problem if I use just stainless steel without heat treatment? O1 steel is hard to find here.



        • ehisey on 17 September 2017 at 6:10 am

          I would avoid stainless. Look for Tool steel there are several, in fact if i did not already have some O1 on hand I would look for some A2 steel.

      • SharpPencil on 23 July 2017 at 10:29 pm

        Hi Phil its me again!!!!! That very annoying bloke who keeps asking the same question …..over and over??
        Paul is showing more and more wooden moulding planes behind him but just does not want to demonstrate them.
        I have asked along with others……can Paul PLEASE show them in use.
        I do understand its very difficult for you to please “all of the people all of the time” but if Paul did do some vids he would please a lot of people etc
        Thanks ..John.

        • Philip Adams on 25 July 2017 at 11:15 am

          Hello John,

          As you mention, we have discussed showing moulding and moulding planes before. There is such a great variety of moulding planes, and only a small percentage of our audience would have access to them. We try to avoid those tools that most people won’t have access to.

          Paul uses moulding planes in the picture frame project. The reason you haven’t seen them used much elsewhere is that Paul only occasionally integrates moulded aspects to his work and it certainly isn’t critical to his woodworking.

          We will certainly keep it in mind for the future. It is on our list of possible videos to do at some stage, but there are many essential woodworking techniques which take priority.

          I will delete your extra comments below, as we try to keep the comments tidy and relevant to the videos as much as possible.

          Sorry not to be more helpful,
          Best, Phil

          • SharpPencil on 28 July 2017 at 10:12 am

            Thanks Phil, that’s a great shame, there is an interest in their use and many of your followers have asked for tuition.
            Paul has such a unique style of teaching, if only he could just give a little time after all he advocates “handrolick” carpentry and moulding planes were used for centuries.
            Thanks John



  3. simonunderhill on 21 July 2017 at 11:36 am

    Another great video Paul! Lot of close up shots of your wristwatch got me thinking; in the days before quartz watches, did the movements of mechanical watches generally stand up to the shocks of chiseling? My dad passed away recently and I’ve inherited his mechanical watch and have been wearing it regularly. He never treated it with kid gloves, but I’d be interested to know the general workshop behaviour from Paul’s early career.

    • Philip Adams on 24 July 2017 at 10:43 am

      Paul says the men he worked with just wore theirs when working without issue. His is a kinetic one that he’s had for 20 years and never had an issue with.

    • Alan on 27 July 2017 at 7:52 pm

      The percussion should be straight through the chisel handle, through the iron, to the wood. Only when you grip the handles too tightly, as beginners tend to, does your hand (watch) absorb some of the energy and reduce the impact of the mallet and efficiency of your chiselling. Even if a watch was to withstand that vibration, its likely to be damaged in other ways in a workshop. I’d wear a cheapo one if I needed it. Certainly not my Dad’s old one.

      • Machinemd on 30 July 2017 at 6:48 am

        Funny, as a Millwright our watches died a regular death if worn on the wrist. The coveralls we wore (usually Carharts) had a watch pocket in the chest pocket (for a pocket watch). We would run the strap of wristwatch through the loop hole for the watch chain. Nowadays the watch pocket has gone the way of the pocket watch on coveralls. Wristwatches have gotten good enough that vibration doesn’t seem to bother them.
        Another great video, can’t wait to make this spokeshave.

  4. sherbin18 on 21 July 2017 at 1:42 pm

    I made a wood spokeshave from a Hock kit several years ago, but I really wanted to do it from scratch. So with Paul’s excellent guidance, this is my chance. Always wanted to try my hand at blade making.

    Now I can make a few of them with different woods.

    Will you be showing us how to make a curved spokeshave or is that to come in a future project.

    This is great stuff.

  5. Eric Lundholm on 21 July 2017 at 1:45 pm

    nice to see a file used correctly, most people on the net rub them back and forth like sand paper.

  6. domd on 21 July 2017 at 3:37 pm

    Thanks Paul and all the team for this video.

    If there is any fellow Canadian, I’m wondering where are you buying your O1 steel. It is even better if you know a local place near Montreal!

    • Augie Valentim on 21 July 2017 at 7:20 pm

      Dominic. I order my specialty steels from Metals Supermarkets. They cater to small orders mostly and they cut to whatever length you need.
      I don’t know if they have a store near you, just Google it
      Cheers

  7. Micah Kruger on 21 July 2017 at 4:49 pm

    Great project! I can’t wait to start my own. I love that you made your own blade too.
    I also appreciate the editing so the videos aren’t so long.
    thanks.

  8. Thomas Angle on 21 July 2017 at 5:03 pm

    My only question is does your wife know that you are using her hair drier?

  9. willyd57 on 21 July 2017 at 5:21 pm

    Awesome! I need to make myself a plane iron for a block plane I made. Now I will wait until I have the steel to make a spokeshave as well and heat treat them at the same time. Excellent tutorial team Paul!!!

  10. salsabettis on 21 July 2017 at 6:19 pm

    I get the feeling, it would be better to try and batch a few of these out at once if you are going through the process of shaping and heat treating the blades.

  11. oldman118 on 21 July 2017 at 6:37 pm

    Question. Do I have to order the 01 steel on the internet or is it the same steel that can be found at HD or Lo**es?

    • Sandy on 21 July 2017 at 8:06 pm

      I wouldn’t think that the big box building supply stores would have tool steal. Most of what they have is mild steel or low carbon steal that does not heat treat. Most welding supply stores do have tool steel though. Happy hunting!

      • oldman118 on 24 July 2017 at 12:26 am

        Thanks Sandy

      • oldman118 on 24 July 2017 at 1:20 am

        Just as an FYI for everyone, I was able to order it on Amazon. Since I have Prime I get ‘free’ delivery in two days. I’ll let everyone know how it turns out.

    • Edmund on 21 July 2017 at 9:56 pm

      I’ve never seen any tool steel at a home center. Most convenient (but pricier due to shipping) is to order online. I’ve ordered from Online Metals in the past with good results — here’s their page for what Paul used… 1/8″ thick, 3/4″ wide O1: http://www.onlinemetals.com/merchant.cfm?pid=13838&step=4&showunits=inches&id=892&top_cat=1354

      You can have them make custom length cuts, too, so if you wanted three pieces that were 4 inches long, and 2 pieces that were 5.5 inches long and a piece that was 10.1 inches long, they would cut all those pieces for you and ship them right to your door. They’re not the cheapest, but they are convenient.

      Oil-quenched (O1) tool steel is probably the easiest for us playing around at home. Air quenched is another option if you’re put off by the oil thing — heat-treated air-hardening steels have deeper hardenability and there is less movement or distortion during heat treatment. They’re also generally tougher (so better for tools in some applications) than oil-quenched steels.
      The downside with A2 for us at home is that you have to get it maybe 300+ degrees F hotter than oil-quenched to reach proper hardening temperature (“austenitizing temperature”), so it’s best to have a small oven or do the double-torch approach, and also those high temps make it a bit easier to experience problems with the surface of the metal, so it’s often recommended to wrap the metal in relatively expensive stainless foil or otherwise take steps to protect the surface from exposure to oxygen at the austenitizing temperatures. If you fail to protect the surface, it can cause scaling and carbon loss of the tool surfaces. Carbon loss means you can never get that piece of tool steel as hard as you could have gotten it had you not screwed up — permanent loss of attainable hardness, they call it.

      When you order tool steel from a reputable dealer, it should come with a data sheet which will tell you all the good info (such as proper hardening temp) for this exact batch of steel, so you won’t have to google for generalities.

      • Bill tegan on 22 July 2017 at 12:40 am

        Here’s a great source for all forms of metal. McMaster-Carr

        eg. Multipurpose O1 Tool Steel Bars

        Yield Strength: 80,000 psi
        Hardness: Rockwell B90 (Medium)
        Heat Treatable: Yes
        Max. Hardness after Heat Treatment: Rockwell C65
        Specifications Met: ASTM A681

      • oldman118 on 24 July 2017 at 12:27 am

        Thanks Edmund, appreciate the help

    • Derek Long on 21 July 2017 at 11:12 pm

      The stuff at the big boxes is usual 1018 low carbon steel and won’t work.

  12. Sandy on 21 July 2017 at 7:44 pm

    A very good project Paul and crew. I always jump on the opportunity to make more tools!

  13. Sandy on 21 July 2017 at 8:09 pm

    I saw several comments about folks looking for O1 tool steel. Amazon has it!

  14. Carl Brill on 21 July 2017 at 9:50 pm

    Excellent! Thank you for a great video.

  15. Kenny1 on 22 July 2017 at 12:02 am

    Wonderful video. Looks quite a bit simpler than the desk project. Maybe one a newbie can tackle. I look forward to making one.

  16. mkvernon on 22 July 2017 at 12:59 am

    Thanks, Paul, for another wonderful video!

  17. Graeme Cook on 22 July 2017 at 5:13 am

    That horrible filing noise reinforces why I perfer to work wood with hand tools rather than metal.

  18. Feras Kanana on 22 July 2017 at 9:36 am

    Excellent! Thank you for this great project Paul

  19. David B on 24 July 2017 at 6:49 pm

    I have some leftover flat bar steel that I purchased at Home Depot a long time ago. I was able to hack-saw it into the right dimensions but am now reading this page talking about different kinds of steel, some that are usable for this project, others that aren’t…

    Does anyone know what kind of steel I have and if it is appropriate to use it for this project? If not, I spent a solid 30 minutes sawing my arm off!

    http://www.homedepot.com/p/Everbilt-2-in-x-36-in-Plain-Steel-Flat-Bar-with-3-16-in-Thick-801867/204225719

    Appreciate any insights here…

    • Edmund on 24 July 2017 at 7:13 pm

      No, sorry, it’s low-carbon stuff and not suitable for hardening.

  20. David B on 24 July 2017 at 8:24 pm

    Well darn–so much for that effort! But am I correct in understanding that I could take an angle grinder to an old circular saw blade to cut out a blank and that THAT metal would be “high-carbon” enough that I could temper/harden it for the spokeshave project?

    • Edmund on 25 July 2017 at 12:15 am

      Maybe, but there’s no way to know for sure without testing it. If it has carbide or case hardened teeth, you’re pretty much guaranteed it is not hardenable steel.

      If you have more time and propane than money, you can always just cut a few pieces from the circ saw blade in question, and try to harden them via the various temperatures and methods required for the common tool steel types. If one of them succeeds, then you know that your metal can be hardened and you know which flavor of tool steel it is.

  21. joeleonetti on 27 July 2017 at 2:31 am

    Your timing for this video is perfect. Watching the desk making series in which Paul uses a wooden spokeshave had me thinking about them and making one. A few days later this video pops up. I’m not sure if it was planned that way or a happy accident. It’s a great way to showcase tools in action and then how to make one. Bravo.

  22. Luiz Mattos on 28 July 2017 at 1:22 am

    In the video the blank seems to be thinner than 1 1/16″ or width is greater than 1 5/8″?

    • Fredrik Helliksson on 15 August 2017 at 2:09 pm

      Agree. Are these really the dimensions used?

      • Philip Adams on 16 August 2017 at 1:59 pm

        Those dimensions are correct Looks like I made a mistake and it should have said 13/16″ (or 21mm) which explains the confusion. Thank you all for your help.

        • Fredrik Helliksson on 21 August 2017 at 2:48 pm

          Funny. Couldn’t get the adjustment screws to reach the steel. Used 25 mm screws instead of the recommended 20 mm. Didnt reach the steel anyway. I’ll try with a blank that is 40×25 instead.

          • wsilvio3625 on 12 December 2017 at 1:28 am

            Seems like the blank should be 7/8 of an inch thick in order for the 3/4 inch screw to be able to reach the recess cut for the blade. What am I missing?



        • Philip Adams on 12 December 2017 at 1:29 pm

          I think there is some variation depending on the steel used for the iron and the countersink on the adjusters. By all means use slightly longer screws if necessary.

          • wsilvio3625 on 28 December 2017 at 2:37 am

            I figured out the confusion. On the cut list it says 13/16’s but there is a space between the 1 and 3 so it looks like 1 and 3/16’s.



          • Philip Adams on 3 January 2018 at 11:28 am

            It did say 1 ³⁄₁₆”, but after reviewing it again, as well as other comments, I think you’re right and it should say 13/16″, or 21mm so I have changed it in the description. I will get the measurements in the video changed as soon as possible.



  23. Luiz Mattos on 28 July 2017 at 2:31 am

    Metal spokeshaves work bevel down. Wooden spokeshaves work bevel up. Any difference beyond that?

  24. Larry Geib on 28 July 2017 at 2:54 am

    “Metal spokeshaves work bevel down. Wooden spokeshaves work bevel up. Any difference beyond that?”

    Well, it’s not just that a wooden shave is bevel up, it’s that it allows a lower angle presentation of the edge to the work.

    My 151 presents the edge at about 45 degrees regardless what angle you sharpen at, where the wooden shave can present the edge at 25-30 degrees, depending how you sharpen ( you could, of course, sharpen at a steeper angle) unlike a bevel up plane, there is no bedding angle for the iron to consider. It’s zero.

    And the cutting blade on a wooden shave is also the rear sole of the tool, so there is virtually no chance of chatter from a poor fit.

    And a wooden shave can be lighter and more compact.

    Lastly, most woodworkers don’t have foundry equipment to build their own metal spokeshaves.

  25. Max Pierson on 1 August 2017 at 6:59 am

    I have an old craftsman block plane that is at end of life. Can I cut this blade down lengthwise to make a spokeshave blade that is already hardened correctly? Thanks for your expertise.

    • Larry Geib on 1 August 2017 at 7:34 am

      I suppose it’s possible, but some plane blades are hardened and tempered at the cutting edge and softer at the other end. Try using a file on both ends and see if there is a difference. When you shape the cutter, go slow so you don’t ruin the temper.

      You might have to bite the bullet and do the hardening routine, but even an unhardened tool steel will cut a bit.

      Also, the blade is probably thinner than the 1/8″ Paul is asking you to use. It might flex.

      I’d just go get an 18″ piece of tool steel. I can get a piece of O1 18″ x3/4″x 1/8″ precision ground bar with a Starret label for under $10 at a local supplier in Portland that’s enough for 4 irons and some left over. ( I’ve been making mounding planes)

      When you have O1 the process I’d dead simple, and that’s why Paul specs it.

      Just slowly heat with a torch or Paul’s barbecue to the Austenite ( non magnetic) state and quench in a warm oil like peanut oil. Then immediately stick it in a 350-400f (150-200C) oven for an hour and it will be hardened to Rockwell 62 or so. That’s perfect for a spokeshave.

      If you use a torch, make a little oven with 4-5 bricks and it will heat more evenly and warp less.

      Caleb James has a nice short video.

      http://kapeldesigns.blogspot.com/2015/08/how-to-heat-treat-tool-steel-for.html

      With unknown steels, it’s a lot easier to screw up.

  26. David B on 6 August 2017 at 2:03 pm

    Can someone briefly explain tempering vs. annealing? Is it necessary here? Does it simply make the steel just a bit harder? Does that make it more brittle? Paul alludes to annealing after tempering but then appears to compete the project without annealing. Given what it entails, I assume it can be done after completion on any event? Or is it completely optional?

    David

    • Edmund on 6 August 2017 at 4:12 pm

      In the simplest terms possible (and therefore sacrificing some accuracy), and referring only to O1 tool steel, annealing is the attempt to hit the reset button back to the state before you started all this hardening stuff. Like any other part of this process, you may or may not “nail it”, but the goal is to return to the original state.

      Tempering is removing the stresses from the thermal shocks caused by abrupt, uneven, and otherwise imperfect heating and quenching, and it also has the effect of reducing the hardness by a bit while increasing the toughness of the steel. Fully through-hardened tool steel can be very brittle, and as you can imagine, depending on your application, that can be a very big problem.

      Neither tempering nor annealing are necessary here. Annealing is unnecessary given that you’re starting with virgin tool steel stock from a reputable supplier, and tempering isn’t necessary given that the application is just a small spokeshave blade that will receive relatively minor demands throughout its lifetime, and an extra step of tempering is just more complication likely to scare off an audience of first-timers.
      If you have a serious issue during the hardening process (you heat the metal to the proper temperature, but drop it on the floor, it takes you 2 minutes to put out the resulting small house fire then you quench the steel, leaving you with very poorly hardened steel), then annealing might become necessary, but let’s hope it doesn’t come to that!

      Hope that makes things a bit clearer

      • David B on 7 August 2017 at 8:20 pm

        Thanks. That helps though I’m still admittedly a bit confused. (maybe I’m confused as to Paul’s comment about annealing it when he may have meant tempering?) So, putting the steel on the coals and then quenching in oil made the steel harder (and more brittle)–evidenced by the fact that I could not begin to countersink the holes I had drilled after the oil quenching and eventually actually broke the blade (it cracked). Whoops!

        So if I understand, if I had then put the blade in the oven for a couple of hours, that would have helped make the blade less brittle (what’s the difference between hardness and toughness btw?)

        And I would have annealed the steel if I were unhappy with my work and wanted to return it to a more workable form? So how does one anneal?

        • Edmund on 10 August 2017 at 5:14 pm

          I think learning to speak “Paul” is probably helpful, and I’m just a novice, but I’ve noticed that he’ll sometimes be speaking about a couple of related things at the same time, and switching contexts between them, so it can take me a few viewings of his videos before I can grasp everything he’s trying to get across.
          Or, he might have simply mis-spoke, which I just noticed Philip said, and Philip is the authority here, so let’s go with that. Thanks, Philip, for the clarification!

          Your understanding is correct. Without intruding too much into material science, hardness is simply the result of a hardness test. You get a number, which you can use for comparative purposes. You can google the Brinell and Rockwell tests to understand more. Toughness measures the energy required to crack a material, in this case, tool steel. And the other vague-sounding term is strength, which measures the resistance of a material to failure, given by the applied stress (or load per unit area).

          Annealing is a bit much to cover in a forum post, but very generally with O1 tool steel you’ll simply heat to the austenite phase once again, but allow to very very very (very very!) slowly cool back to room temperature. Insulation is often used to retard the cooling process, because the best results from annealing occur when the cooling occurs evenly over the course of a couple of days. You’re at 1600 degrees F or so, and you should only cool by perhaps 40 degrees F maximum per hour, so the arithmetic is clear. It’s best to refer to the annealing chart for the specific tool steel you purchased.

      • Philip Adams on 10 August 2017 at 4:50 pm

        Hello Edmund (@etmo),
        Thanks you for clarifying this and for the information. It should indeed have been termed tempering rather than annealing, as you say.

  27. Paul Whoknows on 17 August 2017 at 10:52 pm

    Can I use 5160 instead?

  28. David B on 22 August 2017 at 1:15 am

    What is the best kind of drill bit to use here? I can’t tell you how many I wore out/broke trying to bore through the steel. Is the problem that I should have annealed it before beginning?

    I believe I have the right steel–I ordered a piece of 1095 Forging Steel Barstock for Knife Making — 1/8″ x 1-1/2″ x 12″ . I know from my unplanned road-trip out to Metal Supermarket that 1095 is on the high end of high-carbon content so I believe this is good steel to use for the cutter (Metal Supermarket actually didn’t carry any high-carbon steel so I had to order from Amazon).

    But when I try to drill the screw holes it is just eating up my bits. I finally got 2 holes through but I don’t think my countersink bit is up to the task!

  29. David B on 23 August 2017 at 12:42 pm

    One other question regarding what kind of oil to use for the quenching process–i used chainsaw oil to quench my steel because I had some on hand. Will that suffice?

    • Philip Adams on 29 August 2017 at 2:45 pm

      Hello David, sounds like your steel is quite hard. O1 tool steel isn’t difficult to drill with a metal drill bit. I hesitate to comment on suitable oil, due to our lack of experience. The main thing we advise is oil with a high flash point, such as the peanut oil we used.
      Sorry not to be more helpful.

  30. Graham Hobson on 19 December 2017 at 10:53 pm

    When filing a curve in metal like in this video don’t rock the file in the same direction as the curve you are aiming to make. Rock it in the opposite direction. When you do it correctly the curve will be much nicer.

  31. michael thruman sr on 16 January 2018 at 4:14 am

    nice to see you doing metal work done that for 32 years your doing great.

  32. michael thruman sr on 16 January 2018 at 4:29 am

    What kind of steel O1 Or A1 Or D1 what you working with

  33. mike jones on 24 March 2018 at 11:19 am

    My 5 month old son loves your videos.

  34. David Waters on 31 July 2018 at 10:44 am

    Hi Paul,

    I found when filing steel, rubbing blackboard chalk on the file helps keep the cut smooth and the noise of vibration down.

  35. Zachery Edmondson on 14 December 2019 at 12:51 am

    Fun project! Many thanks for posting this in the free content.

    When I drilled the holes in the blade, the bit drifted a little and the hole ended up off-center. I made a second blade with deeper punch holes, but despite the drill bit being well seated when I started drilling (the bit didn’t skid or chatter), it still drifted a bit. Any thoughts on what I’m doing wrong?

    • Izzy BergerTeam Member on 18 December 2019 at 8:46 am

      Hi,

      Thank you for your comment.

      Paul says:
      It could be one of two things, if the steel was hardened before you drilled the holes and the hardness is inconsistent, then the bit might drift towards the softer steel. Alternatively, your drill bit may be ground off centre, even if it’s only slight it will still move the bit off course.

      Kind Regards,
      Izzy

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