|Review by CartersWhittling||posted 09-20-2012 03:01 PM||10522 views||4 times favorited||13 comments|
I recently bought the Flat and Round Veritas Spokeshaves.
Each sell for $95.00 Cdn and come with the shave, two shims and instructions. Available separately is a handle kit which allows you to make custom handles.
My first impressions opening the box and pulling out the shave was the weight of the tool. It has substantially more heft than my old Stanley #51. This is in no way a negative comment because during use the extra weight helps the shave easily slice through lumber with little to no vibration.
Straight from the box the 1/8” thick blade has a 30 degree primary bevel and 35 degree micro bevel and like all of Veritas’ tools the back of the blade was dead flat, I went straight to my finest grit water stone to polish the back. Concerning the micro bevel I personally do not use one on my tools and would rather not have my tools come with one when purchased. I think Veritas should have ground the primary bevel on the blade and left adding the micro bevel to the purchaser. This small negative (in my opinion) doesn’t affect my rating of the shave in the least, because right from the box the shave made blissfully thin shavings and smooth surfaces. If I have any problem with the blade it is the edges. I found the edges to be sharp which can make it uncomfortable holding the blade for sharpening and when adjusting the blade depth with the brass knobs. Although it is nothing breaking the edges with some fine sandpaper won’t fix.
The handles that come with the plane are simple and removable, which is what makes the handles so functional. There is nothing more annoying than trying to use a shave and having the handles get in the way. Because the handles can unscrew from the body it lets you work in places other shaves cannot. And when you turn the handles back on they stay tight and strong. For this reason alone I love the shave. Plus I think the bubinga looks great with the brass and black japaning.
The spokeshave uses two brass wheels to adjust the depth of cut. These wheels turn smoothly with very little play on the screws they ride on. To adjust the depth you need to loosen the cap screw, adjust the wheels and re-tighten the cap screw. Adjustment is quick and accurate. The wheels do have a full half turn of slack when adjusting the blade. It’s not a problem in my opinion as it is only a half turn. Perhaps that slack is intentionally done to allow the blade to skew properly, in which case it is a good thing.
The shave also comes with two plastic shims that you can place on the bed of the shave beneath the blade to make the mouth tighter. When I first tried the shave with the thickest shim I had a hard time believing anything could fit through the mouth. It is only when you hold the mouth up to a light that you can see there is indeed a gap. Of course you can only take the thinnest shavings possible when this shim is installed. I doubt I will use these shims very much as the mouth is already fairly tight without them. If I ever need to use the shave on figured wood though the shims will come in handy.
The Fine Details
A neat feature that was never mentioned in the instructions was that the blade is slightly magnetic. I find this helpful when reinstalling the blade and removing it from the shave, an extra preventative from dropping the blade.
The mouth of the plane also has more thought put into it than described. The corners have small cut outs which help keep the shavings from clogging the blade. One thing I have found frustrating with my Stanley 51 is that I often get shavings bunching up in the corners, especially when skewing the shave. With the cut outs in the corners, shavings tend not to bunch up as frequently and if they do they pull out easily.
The width of the blade fits perfectly into the body of the shave. There is a very fine tolerance between the sides of the body and the blade which means you do not need to fiddle with tightening the blade in the right position.
One of the first tests I did was in red oak for some chair back spindles. The shave worked great as expected. Although when shaving spindles for a chair back from riven oak the grain is hardly fighting against you, so I also tried ribbon mahogany. In my first attempt when I planned into some reversing grain I got some tear out. Setting the iron to take a thinner shaving helped, but sometimes scraping is the only option with mahogany. At least, that is what I use to think. I tried the shave with the thicker shim and set the blade. No tear out. I could easily plane over the roughest of spots and get shimmering smooth surfaces. Because you can only take such a thin shaving when the shim is installed, it is not practical to work with it all the time. But when you need to get that final smoothing work done in the trickiest of spots this shave can get ‘er done.
Without the shim.
With the thickest shim.
I also tried the shave in fresh green maple with and without the shim and it worked great as well. Even with the shim installed the plane still passed shavings through the mouth and left a surface smoother than without the shim.
I find that the way you use the shave is slightly different than a Stanley 51, because of the shape of the handles. With the Stanley’s flat handles you can easily leverage pressure toward the toe or heel of the shave. With this shave’s round handles you do not have the same leverage so you need to apply pressure differently. I don’t think this will be a problem some time using the tool won’t fix. But if you are accustomed to Stanley’s flat handles then you can always buy the handle kit with the shave and make your own own handles.
The round spokeshave performed with the same results the flat shave did. The only difference being the shave required more control and some learning to get it to cut properly inside curves. When you are using the round shave only the front of the mouth and the blade are making contact with the work piece so unless you hold the shave firmly the shave will want to rock back and forth skipping over the work. And if you are trying to start the shave by having the heal of the shave on the work and rocking forward into the blade the shave will catch. The manner in which you use the tool is similar to a travisher (if anyone reading this has used a travisher to make a comparision with). You must start with the toe of the shave on the work and roll the shave back until the blade enters the work, and you finish the cut by rolling forward onto the toe again. Once you get this motion and firmly hold the shave then you can get wonderful smooth cuts. I still have a hard time doing this on end grain though. I find using a bit of a slicing motion and very slight skew help though.
One difference in the performance of the round shave over that of the flat shave is when the shim is used. When the shim is installed in the round shave you do get better results, but not in the ribbon mahogany. When the round shave encountered reversing grain it still skipped causing tearout. This is due simply to the fact that there is not as much stability as in the flat shave (just the nature of the tool itself). The round shave is only contacting at the blade and front of the mouth so the shave rocks back and forth through rough grain. Skewing the shave helps, but this is only possible if the curve you are working on is shallow. As long as you are not encountering figured woods with this shave you can get great results.
Both these shaves are carefully and thoughtfully made and perform as I have learned to expect from any Veritas tool, GREAT. The flat shave will tame any grain you have to work with it and the round shave will work those curved areas your flat shave can’t get to. Although the round shave couldn’t get the same wonderful results in reversing grain it’s main purpose for me is in chair making where I do not encounter those problems.
I will give the flat shave 5 stars because it had incredible performance even in tough grain.
I will give the round shave 4 stars because it couldn’t handle tough grain.
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