View Full Version : Spoke Shave

Jerry Thompson
03-24-2016, 3:06 PM
I have had Woodjoy round spoke shave for years. Every year or so I drag it out and try to get an edge that will work on hard woods. These woods would be maple, cherry and walnut.
I can get curly fine shavings from pine but then it all goes down hill with, at this time, cherry. It chatters and tears in places. I have it set to a very fine cut but it is still not sharp enough.

I have spent an untold amount of time trying to get it sharp but I just as well be spitting into the wind.

The fists water stone I use is an 800 then onto a Shapton 8000. This works well for my planes and chisels but not the little shave blade.

Any pointers?

Luke Dupont
03-24-2016, 3:25 PM
I just came across a video on sharpening spokeshaves by Paul Sellers yesterday. He has a really neat method:

Apparently, sharpening spokeshaves is something a lot of people have difficulty with.

I just bought a blade to make my own wooden spokeshave with, so I'm sure I'll be able to identify with your troubles soon :)

Edit: Woops and double woops:
1) I meant to link to this video/method; I think it's better: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zOJVXRQLUOI
2) I just noticed you said "round spokeshave;" do you mean the sole is round, or do you have one of those with a concave blade for chairlegs or such?

Mike Henderson
03-24-2016, 3:46 PM
The round spokeshaves are more difficult to use than a spokeshave with a flat bottom. There are many good flat bottom spokeshaves but the LN Boggs is an excellent one.


Malcolm Schweizer
03-24-2016, 4:06 PM
800 to 8000 is a huge jump. You need a 3000 and 5000 to transition.

Matthew Hutchinson477
03-24-2016, 6:21 PM
800 to 8000 is a huge jump. You need a 3000 and 5000 to transition.

Agreed. An 8000 grit stone may not eliminate all the scratches from an 800 grit stone. That may be part of the issue. When you examine the bevel closely, does it appear finely polished? Can you see any sort of scratch pattern in it? If you answer "yes" to the last question then your blade is not sharp enough.

Jerry Thompson
03-24-2016, 6:25 PM
I am going to give it a go this weekend. I have several curved surfaces to do on a cherry piece that I cut out on the BS. I will report back.
Thanks to everyone.

Nick Olimpi
03-24-2016, 8:27 PM
Could also be how you are holding it, are your thumbs out on the handles or in closer to the blade? If you place them near the center it can help cut down on chatter. Also pushing or pulling can effect it, as well as skewing the blade. just some thoughts other than sharpness.

Phil Mueller
03-24-2016, 11:20 PM
Thanks for posting Luke...that's a neat little jig for sharpening.

Jerry Thompson
03-27-2016, 2:32 PM
Well I have met with some success. I watched the sharpening video with his jig setup. I tried it and it did not work for me as my left arm does not rotate enough to keep from being awkward.
So, using some of the video aspects, I set up a pine board on end in my vise. I jointed the end flat and glued a small strip of #180 sandpaper to it. I place the blade on this and used two push pins to hold it in place correctly. Then I snugged it up with two sewing machine needles.
I applied 240 sticky sandpaper to an industrial wooden paint stirrer. These are the big thick ones uses for big buckets. I then applied 40u 3M paper and two others of their real fine stuff to another stirrer.
I was able to use the 240 to get it all even at about 25d. I then went down through the grits and finished with honing compound on a maple board. It should be noted that I did flatten the back.
Then the learning curve started. I used it on cherry with the grain on a strait edge and I had it set too thick. I finally got the depth set ok and now I am in the process of learning how to do inside curves.
I might add that I found it easier to do the sharpening by holding the sticks with the abrasive on them and sliding the blade back and forth. The 3M paper removes metal fairly fast.
Now does anyone have any pointers in using a circular shave other than practice, practice....?

Bill Houghton
03-27-2016, 4:31 PM
Always pull a round-bottom shave of any kind toward you. Your hands and wrists rotate in way better than they do out, and you'll have more control. And, of course, but you know that, always run down-grain as you go around the curve.

Mike Holbrook
03-27-2016, 4:33 PM
I think Mike hit the nail on the head. I have quite a few spokeshaves, 4-5 from WoodJoy. I still have difficulty using any spokeshave, including my WoodJoy spokeshaves, with rounded surfaces. The rounded edge can change the angle of attack drastically and quickly before you realize it. When the blade digs in instead of taking a thin shaving it will feel like the blade is dull. Glenn at WoodJoy was the one who originally made me aware of the greater skill required to use a more rounded shave. Flat shaves hold more moderate angles of attack much more reliably. The advantage of the rounded surface is one can change the amount of wood being removed with slight changes in the angle of attack, learning to use this feature of those shaves isn't all that easy though. I would suggest practising with a spokeshave with an adjustable depth setting and or a lesser curved surface before trying to use a round shave.

Jerry Thompson
03-27-2016, 8:00 PM
Always pull a round-bottom shave of any kind toward you. Your hands and wrists rotate in way better than they do out, and you'll have more control. And, of course, but you know that, always run down-grain as you go around the curve.

Would you please elaborate "always run down-grain as you go around the curve"?

Bill Houghton
03-27-2016, 8:41 PM
Would you please elaborate "always run down-grain as you go around the curve"?

It's the same concept as bench planing a surface: you plane a surface so that the grain is running up out of the wood in the direction you're planing, so that you're not trying to raise a splinter with your plane. With spokeshave work, you're often trying to put a curve on wood with straight grain, or at least grain that's not following the curve, so you have to pay close attention to where the grain runs out of the curve, and shave so that you're not trying to raise a splinter with the shave. If that's not clear, I'll try to find or do a drawing.

Jerry Thompson
03-27-2016, 10:20 PM
Thanks Bill. I get the idea. I'll have a go at it soon. I'm getting enough cherry shavings to do a rack of baby backs.

Jerry Thompson
04-02-2016, 9:03 PM
I have practiced and practiced with the curved shave and I am now about 90% confident in using it. I made a mistake of putting a micro bevel on it and that seemed to reduce the relief angle and it would plug up. I now have it at 25d and very, very sharp. The blade edge can hardly be felt sticking out of the sole. It sure takes easy fine shaving in cherry and I have had no tear out.
On reflection I was trying to take rough band saw edges down to the line. I left some big bumps in my practice pieces and I should have pared them with a chisel. When I do that it works like a charm.
I ordered another Woodjoy with Glenn at the company helping me. I am looking forward to using both types in the future. It sure beats sanding using the drill press.

Mike Holbrook
04-03-2016, 12:10 AM
Glenn is quite helpful and knows shaves, especially his. Glenn offers a unique adjustment or two not common in most spokeshaves. Other shave makers offer the ability to adjust either the mouth opening or the blade height, several of Glenn's shaves offer both adjustments without having any parts that protrude past the surface of the shave, quite unique. If you are interested in removing larger amounts of wood, for instance from rough bandsaw cuts, a drawknife or larger spokeshave will come in handy. A drawknife is a very powerful tool once one takes a little time to learn to use one. Good instructors can be very helpful. Guys like Peter Galbert, Curtis Buchanan and Drew Langsner can do inspiring/frequently surprising work with these simple tools. A good shavehorse is helpful in using these tools. I am remaking mine at the moment, converting it to a dumb head.

A micro bevel, on the back of a drawknife or some larger spokeshaves, can make a big difference in how they work. Peter Galbert sharpened one of my drawknives for me in a class, adding just a small bevel to the back of the blade. He explained that the small bevel would make it easier for me to pull the drawknife back up out of a cut, changing direction in the cut while making the cut. Pete calls this a landing strip cut. Basically this is a cut that goes deep fast then exits the wood fast. The point of this cut being that the layers of wood behind the cut can be removed quickly without fear of causing major tear out. I was very surprised at how this simple change made it much easier to change direction within a cut.

It seems to me the more one adapts to using drawknives and spokeshaves the more one appreciates: wider mouths, curved blade rests, beveled (on the backside) sharpening techniques... As is often the case though, too much of any one or all of these features can make these tools very hard to use.

Chris Fournier
04-03-2016, 1:21 PM
Handplane, spokeshave, chisel. Easy to difficult to master in that order I'd say and it has everything to do with the registration and bearing of the cutting edge in the cut. I totally agree with the sharpening advice you've been given, I get a mirror finish from 800/4000/6000/8000 with the stones that I use.

I use spokeshaves to refine curves and draw knives to rough them out as I find draw knives to be dead simple to use as I ride the bevel and the edge cuts predictably. My favourite is a little 4" knife that I bought at LV years ago, you may like it too...

Simon MacGowen
04-03-2016, 6:09 PM
The latest Lee Valley Newsletter on shop knives has a few pointers about spoke shaves. Check it out if you haven't.