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Discovering Spokeshaves

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Blog entry by Paul Sellers posted 1127 days ago 3607 reads 2 times favorited 25 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I picked up my first spokeshave to work with in 1963. In two years time that will be half a century ago. I was 13 years old when I made this bookshelf. The shelf joints are dadoes and the sides are glued and screwed to the shelves and then pelleted (plugged US) with pellets hand cut with a 1/2” chisel from the same wood.

I don’t recall my being that good at woodworking, but something synchronised in my being and I chose that year that I would spend the rest pf my life working wood. I think that for just about 47 of those years I have worked with wood every day. All of the rounded edges came from a flat bottomed spokeshave further refined with sandpaper. I still use that technique today.

I thought I would start a thread about spokeshaves to see where we end up. I have used one every day for 46 years. I have several so I thought I would start off with this tiny spokeshave which is the smallest I have ever used. I think it’s the smallest production spokeshave I have seen, but hope some of you can prove me to be wrong. This one was made by C>F>Johnson of Sheffield, England.

-- Paul Sellers, UK http://paulsellers.com/paul-sellers-blog



25 comments so far

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Paul Sellers

277 posts in 1172 days


#1 posted 1127 days ago

I’d like to begin with the Stanley #151 and answer any questions anyone has about this tool. I have used on for 47 years and find it handles all of my work very well, in times past I have seen adverse comments made about it so I wanted to help anyone who may not understand some fundamentals. I can do anything with this spokeshave. Here is a #151 made for me by my son when he was 16 years old. It was made from a sand casting using bronze as the main alloy. All #151 shaves work the same way. Of course I treasure this one over a Stanley or a Record any day.

-- Paul Sellers, UK http://paulsellers.com/paul-sellers-blog

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Napoleon

786 posts in 1410 days


#2 posted 1127 days ago

Thats a great gift from your son! I know different spokeshaves for different jobs,but wich one of them is your favorit and why ?

-- Boatbuilder&blacksmith

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Paul Sellers

277 posts in 1172 days


#3 posted 1127 days ago

Well, I have learned through the years that with hand tools it’s rarely an either or. Most woodworkers never have used a boxwood spokeshave to work with, but I don’t think an spokeshave in metal compares to a well-made, tanged spokeshave like the one on the background of the miniature. The advantage in this shave is its ability to hog off masses of wood with incredible ease, especially in riven stock where grain direction is so evident and grain can therefore be worked to its optimal direction.

-- Paul Sellers, UK http://paulsellers.com/paul-sellers-blog

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Paul Sellers

277 posts in 1172 days


#4 posted 1127 days ago

I also like the fact that it can be so rapidly ‘tap-set’ to task. The sole rides the wood and can be micro-adjusted for thickness by simply tilting forward for less and pressed hard to compress the wood as I work if i want a deeper, more aggressive cut.

-- Paul Sellers, UK http://paulsellers.com/paul-sellers-blog

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Bertha

12951 posts in 1294 days


#5 posted 1127 days ago

Subscribed. I like the lowly 151 as well. What did he model the sandcasting from and for goodness sakes, what is he doing right now!!!??? He’s clearly ultra-talented; I hope he’s not wasting it on medicine or law; I hope he’s still casting somewhere. Thank you for sharing this gorgeous tool, set in an outstanding setting. I want to climb into the picture and curl up.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

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Paul Sellers

277 posts in 1172 days


#6 posted 1127 days ago

Well, he’s not wasting his energy. He is editing my next book ready for the publishers, which has to be at the printers in three weeks or so. When he’s not doing that, well, he’s a violin maker.
I have made hundreds of pieces in my lifetime as a full time lifelong furniture maker and I still love my work. Even so, though I made two credenzas for the White House Permanent Collection three years ago, and that was so wonderful, the most life changing piece I ever made was making a cello with him for him. Nothing will ever compare to that three months.

-- Paul Sellers, UK http://paulsellers.com/paul-sellers-blog

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Paul Sellers

277 posts in 1172 days


#7 posted 1127 days ago

He copied a 151 pattern by carving it in wood. He only made a handful of them and that was part of his education. I wanted my sons to have a broad base of hand crafts so they did blacksmithing, woodworking, basket weaving, casting, pottery and so on. It’s good to give them such things when they are young so they can choose a productive life and take care of the essentials rather than always finding specialist to do the work for them.

-- Paul Sellers, UK http://paulsellers.com/paul-sellers-blog

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Napoleon

786 posts in 1410 days


#8 posted 1127 days ago

Bertha is quite right,that 151 looks really amazing. I have lost my 2 spokeshaves so i am wondering if i am going to make some or buy them. Have you build some your self ?

-- Boatbuilder&blacksmith

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Bertha

12951 posts in 1294 days


#9 posted 1127 days ago

Wow, powerful stuff from Paul Sellers, not surprising though. I was similarly supported by my parents in my pursuits; and it’s a gift like no other. I went a different way through some bad personal decisions and art is now my hobby, instead of my career. You’re an amazing man, Paul. I’m proud to know you.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

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Napoleon

786 posts in 1410 days


#10 posted 1127 days ago

Wow amazing Paul! What is the tittle of your books ?

-- Boatbuilder&blacksmith

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CharlesAuguste

126 posts in 1142 days


#11 posted 1127 days ago

Well very interesting blog, im glad your bringing this up i find myself not using my spokeshave that much,
and from what i read i probably should. I have 4 of them and even with the beautiful ornate Preston,
i find myself using the two wooden moustache more then the others, so now im thinking maybe i should get a couple of boxwood shave, sounds like a good reason to buy a couple of tools.

-- "the future's uncertain and the end is always near" J. Morrison

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Paul Sellers

277 posts in 1172 days


#12 posted 1127 days ago

I have a list of shaves that will help you and some information on which ones work best for what task. Will post tomorrow with more. these are the most amazing tools. I have several sons and grandsons and I gave them spokeshaves as soon as they were old enough, which is around five years old with parental oversight.

-- Paul Sellers, UK http://paulsellers.com/paul-sellers-blog

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Paul Sellers

277 posts in 1172 days


#13 posted 1127 days ago

Well, Charles, you just gotta get into it. I like the Preston. I have one like it. I still prefer the lightness of the wooden shaves. I have used Veritas parts kits to make my own and they take some beating because they feel so like the tanged traditional shaves in the top picture.

-- Paul Sellers, UK http://paulsellers.com/paul-sellers-blog

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CharlesAuguste

126 posts in 1142 days


#14 posted 1127 days ago

Paul, sounds like you might convince me to get into it!!! looking forward to your list of shaves and other info about spokeshaves.

-- "the future's uncertain and the end is always near" J. Morrison

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mpmitche

395 posts in 1577 days


#15 posted 1127 days ago

Can’t wait to see the list Paul. I’m very interested in making myself a spokeshave. I recently read that the wooden bevel up shaves are better in greenwood. I’d like to make a shave for dry hardwood and was thinking bevel up because it looks like something I could make (with wood). Any thoughts on using a bevel up shave for dry wood?

-- Mike, Western New York

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