Hand Tools Archive

Double iron spokeshave *PIC*

Almost everytime I use my spokeshave (bevel down) there is some spot where the grain tears out, or some part which for the given grain direction is hard to shape without going against the grain. And since I´m a dedicated user of the double iron in my bench planes I always think "how about a double iron spokeshave?"

Finally the itch became too strong not to scratch and I ordered a 45 mm Hock replacement blade for a metal spokeshave. From 1.5 mm mild steel I cut, filed and bent a cap iron and tapped it to receive a cap iron screw.

The spokeshave is made out of elm, with a brass wear strip in front of the mouth. The blade is bedded at 40 degrees and the mortise resembles that of a double iron bench plane. Finished with BLO and wax. The brass strip is tilted up towards the front at around 5 degrees and is filed and lapped with a slight curvature. Hence
the shave is used as a low angle wooden shave, where the depth of cut is adjusted by balancing the shave on the sole so that the contact point is closer to the blade for a heavier cut and closer to the front for a light cut.

A couple of test samples. Chestnut burl to the left and spruce with and against the grain to the right. No tearout.

I'm not an experienced furniture maker and I never made a chair. But with my single iron spokeshave I have made my fair share of tool handles, spoons, ladles, axe shafts etc. And tearout is always present. If not physically then mentally, manifested as great care where the grain is less cooperative. This usually slows the process down, by frequent repositioning of the work, or by taking a lot of very fine shavings to avoid tearout. With the cap iron I can take substantial shavings with no or minimal tear out, and thus work fast to final or almost final dimensions. Much like how a double iron try plane allows for working fast and safe to marked lines, leaving a surface that is easily smoothed.

Now, having completed the shave (and found it working as expected) the big question is: why can´t I find any double iron shaves around? No new ones, no old ones. No pictures, but plenty of references to people having tear out problems with spokeshaves. Bad googling technique? Or is this tool superfluous with the right technique and choice of materials/tooling? It is clear that for riven straight and steam bended parts this is not a problem. I'm talking about all the other cases of spokeshave use (less than perfect grain, figured wood etc. )

As a beginner it´s not my place to question the historical practices of woodworking - if this tool does not exist or is unnecessary, then there is for sure a good reason for it. Is the spokeshave simply not the right tool for chair parts and curved furniture parts in figured wood? I´m guessing this forum, with its vast joint experience is the right place to ask such a question.

Thanks for reading and I hope to hear your thoughts on the subject!

© 1998 - 2017 by Ellis Walentine. All rights reserved.
No parts of this web site may be reproduced in any form or by
any means without the written permission of the publisher.