Advice on a plane to shape a bo/staff?

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Forum topic by Elizabeth posted 02-26-2011 12:22 AM 2268 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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817 posts in 3142 days

02-26-2011 12:22 AM

I have a five foot long, about 1.5 inch (estimated) square piece of cherry that I got from a school’s scrap pile recently. I’d like to round it off into a karate bo with dimensions 1 1/4” in the middle tapering to 3/4” at the ends.

I own no planes or spokeshaves etc at this time and would like to rectify that. I have limited experience with planes and none with spokeshaves or other similar tools.

Can anyone recommend a good hand tool to use for this project?


7 replies so far

View Elizabeth's profile


817 posts in 3142 days

#1 posted 02-26-2011 12:43 AM

Oh, is cherry no good for this? I looked up the common bo wood types and the lists I found included cherry.

(If all else fails I could just use it for practicing kata forms rather than for sparring!)

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817 posts in 3142 days

#2 posted 02-26-2011 01:08 AM

OK, well, assuming I can find some nice oak to use instead – is there a particular type of spokeshave or plane that is best for rounding and tapering a long piece? What should I look for when choosing a spokeshave?

View Tony Strupulis's profile

Tony Strupulis

260 posts in 3122 days

#3 posted 02-26-2011 01:15 AM

I think a plane would be frustrating to use. You can do it all with a drawknife and spokeshave. This would be a good excuse to get a shaving horse to hold your work.

-- Tony -

View Elizabeth's profile


817 posts in 3142 days

#4 posted 02-26-2011 01:29 AM

Hm, now there’s an idea, Tony. Maybe I’ll make a shaving horse first!

View Gofor's profile


470 posts in 3785 days

#5 posted 02-26-2011 01:40 AM


Are you planning on making just one or two, or getting into this type of work for more projects?

I asked because you can shape it down using a Surform type rasp (see for pictures of what I am talking about), and then smoothing it with sand paper.

The rasp will be inexpensive, and easy to learn.

A draw knife takes a little bit of experience to operate well, having to get the feel of bevel-up vs bevel down cuts, reading the wood grain, and sharpening it to a very fine edge.

A spoke shave would work well to finish smoothing it, but also takes some skill in setting it and sharpening the blade.

The other consideration is holding the staff while you work it. A shaving horse, one type pictured here ( is well suited for the task and worth the trouble to make or acquire if this is going to be a continuous endeavor. Otherwise, you can clamp an end between a notched block of wood and a table top.

Either way, I would experiment on an inexpensive piece of scrap wood of about the same dimensions before going with the final project.


PS: I am not trying to steer you away from the drawknifwe/spokeshave, shaving horse idea, as it also will give you the capability to make hiking sticks, as well as other items, and is a fun thing to do. However, if your main passion is the karate, or the need for the bo is soon, just giving an alternative.

-- Go

View Elizabeth's profile


817 posts in 3142 days

#6 posted 02-26-2011 01:49 AM

Hi Gofor,

Thanks, this is very helpful. Yeah, I’d just be making a couple for my own use. (I doubt I’d really be making a shaving horse anytime soon.) If indeed I end up making any at all – now that I’ve discovered a) the wood I have is actually not suitable for it and b) I could get a completely made one for $23 at karatedepot, the appeal of the project has faded slightly! But it would still be awfully fun to practice forms with a handmade bo.

View canadianchips's profile


2600 posts in 2995 days

#7 posted 02-26-2011 02:21 AM

A concave spokeshave would work very well for this. You can buy them with different radius’. Kuntz makes acheaper version or you can spend over a $100 dollars for a good one ! I am thinking if you can buy a bo for $23 dollars go for it.

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

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