spokeshave problems


i’ve been successful at adjusting and planing with other hand planes that i have, but i’m having the most trouble with the spokeshave in the nose/flip area. the spokeshave is brand new (purchased from foamez.com). it just seems to grind along, not actually cutting/shaving. i’ve tried planing in both tail-nose and nose-tail directions, still no luck. the blade is brand new and should be sharp, no? am i supposed to sharpen it? i’m worried that i’ll just f*** up a new blade if i do.

also, i noticed that the blade is a hair too wide for the slot in the spokeshave such that when i tighten down the screw that holds the blade, the blade bends slightly. is this part of my problem? the blade should fit flush/flat, no?

btw, i’m very new to all of this, so maybe i just need to practice and find the right “touch”.


Post a pic of the offending tool

I don’t want to hazard the guess that the blade comes screwed in backwards for your safety, but without a pic…


Or maybe there is just “too much” blade? Anyway, blades that are just out of the factory usually need to be fine-tuned.

It will definitely need honing. Usual mistake with spokeshaves is to have too much blade exposed.

And here’s a big mistake ALL my students make at least once. Putting the blade in upsidedown. The bevel edge of the blade should be down, if it is up the cut is too coarse, you will get “juddering” and life will be misery!!

eek! bevel edge down??? as in, the bevel edge being on the side opposite the screwhead?

take a look at this picture. it appears that the beveled side is on the outside, the side with the screwhead. is this blade positioning incorrect or correct? this is how mine is set up.


i will sharpen the blade, what is the easiest way to accomplish this?


eek! bevel edge down??? as in, the bevel edge being on the side opposite the screwhead?

i will sharpen the blade, what is the easiest way to accomplish this?


As soon as a spokeshave begins to dull, it gets harder to control. Therefore, as soon as it shows signs of being harder to control, assume that it is time to sharpen, or at least hone the somewhat-but-not-really-sharp edge. When cutting hardwood endgrain, like on the splat foot in the oval side table, the cut will be impossible without a very sharp edge.

Sharpening a spokeshave iron is no different from sharpening any iron or chisel. First you establish a bevel of about 25o, then hone that bevel with successively finer stones until you get very smooth surfaces on both sides of the bevel. When both these surfaces are smooth, the edge where they meet must, by definition, be sharp. Because the cutting tip of this edge is very small, pushing it through wood wears it away and it becomes rounded, or dull. Sharpening grinds away metal behind the rounded area until the round is gone and again you have a bevel and two smooth sides.

Unfortunately you can’t put spokeshave irons into those handy little roller jigs for running chisels and plane irons across stones because the spokeshave iron is too short to fit in the jig. So you must hold it by hand (Photo 3). This is a bit tricky, because if you hold it too low, you aren’t grinding on the edge of the bevel, if too high, you change the bevel angle at the edge. Begin by holding it too low, then, while pushing it across the stone, slowly raise the iron. This gradually brings the tip to the stone. When it begins to contact you will feel a difference in the grinding action- as though the iron were trying to take a slice off the top of the stone.

Photo 3- Carefully hold the iron on a stone at a consistent angle while you push it along.

If you need sharpening stones, click here.

You can see when the edge begins to dull. Note in photo 4 that the center of the edge reflects the light, because it is rounded and so dull, whereas the two ends, unused and still sharp, do not reflect the light.

Photo 4- A dull iron reflects light along the rounded surface of the dull iron, which a sharp edge will not do.

A new spokeshave iron will be straight across its edge. It’s a good idea to slightly curve the ends away from this straight line so that the whole edge is along a slight radius (Photo 5). This way the corners will not dig in, leaving ugly marks. Also, this limits the width of cut the tool will take. When the tool is adjusted for a very fine, thin cut, the width will be lesser because less of the curved iron is exposed. This is useful in endgrain situations where the less you cut along the width, the easier it is.

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Photo 5- Put your iron edge up to a straight edge to see how much curve it has in it.

Different designs of spokeshaves have different means of adjusting the depth of cut. A flat sole spokeshave has two different pieces for the sole. The section before the iron pivots and is adjustable with a thumb screw as in photo 6. The rear sole is part of the body of the tool. Turning the screw causes the front sole to move away from the knife, increasing the cut, or toward the knife, reducing the cut. The iron is fixed to the body with a screw. Set the knife so that the edge is at, or protrudes just beyond, the plane of the rear sole.

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ive seen the same defect in a lot of spoke-shaves…the blade is just made too wide for the tool in some cases…ive seen batches come in where 20 tools are perfect, and one is too wide, i dont know how the mistake is so common…seems odd to me that so many would be perfect, and then one is too wide…either shave the sides down, or send it back for another.

My thought is way too much blade exposed, I usually start with “no cut” and adjust from there until it just starts to touch the work surface.

My dear brother, a master furniture/cabinet maker, pulled the blades from his thickness planer one morning for a blade change, after installing, my Father went to run some wood and almost fainted at the horrible rackct that the machine and wood was making, my brother had inadvertantly installed the blades backwards

does it plane ok on other (flatter) parts of the board? If so then the blade isn’t dull. You don’t need to tighten that screw down much, only enough to keep the blade from moving. Try holding the spokeshave at a bit of an angle to the stringer - does it cut better?

EasternPacific, thanks for the video link…very helpful.

i’ll go check the blade positioning tonight…there’s a chance its backwards (knowing me).

thanks for the input guys…will update you on the solution.