How to Use a Spokeshave

Written by gene tencza
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How to Use a Spokeshave
Spokeshaves (Photos by Gene Tencza)

A spokeshave is a very short plane, oriented horizontally, with a handle on each side. The body of the tool can be made of metal or wood. As its name suggests, it was originally designed for making wooden spokes for wagon and carriage wheels. It is now commonly used to make any irregular object that needs to be rounded, for example, a walking stick. The advantage over a plane is that the spokeshave is short enough to be used to shape the concave side of curved objects such as axe handles, curved furniture legs and canoe paddles.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Spokeshave
  • Wood
  • Woodworker's vice

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    How to use the spokeshave

  1. 1

    Select a piece of wood appropriate to your project. If your part is going to be curved, rough out the shape with a sabre saw or band saw.

  2. 2

    Hold the part securely in a vice or with clamps. Shown here is a curved handle held in an antique clamping vice.

    How to Use a Spokeshave
  3. 3

    Hold the spokeshave by its two handles and push it away from you or pull it toward you, depending on the direction of the wood grain. Shave off a little bit of the stock at a time. Think of the tool as a potato peeler with two handles.

    How to Use a Spokeshave
  4. 4

    Rotate your stock occasionally as you go. You are rounding off the corners of a square until the piece becomes round. A push stroke removes the stock faster. To shape the end of the stock that is facing you, use a pull stroke.

    How to Use a Spokeshave
  5. 5

    Turn your work piece around so that the vice is holding the end that is finished. You can now shape the other end.

    How to Use a Spokeshave

Tips and warnings

  • When using a tool that you are pushing, watch what your knuckles will hit if you slip.

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