Sunday, 8 February 2009


Raphael Salaman in his Dictionary of Woodworking tools p.460 tells us that

“For such a common and versatile tool, the Spokeshave has a curiously obscure history. The word occurs in a wheelwright’s inventory of 1454 (J.A.Clark in Tools, Trades, Vol.2, 1984) and W.L.Goodman has shown that some sixteenth century coopers’ apprentices had spokeshaves (Industrial Archaeology, Vol. 9, No. 4, 1972). But there is no certainty over what these tools actually looked like. Neither Moxon (London, 1677) nor Diderot (Paris, 1763) illustrates the sort of tool with which we are familiar nor even mentions the word. The earliest representation so far known to us is the wooden Spokeshave included with cooper’s tools in Smith’s Key (Sheffield, 1816). This is similar to the tool in use today. The metal so-called ‘spokeshaves’ (they are really little planes with side handles, which function and feel quite differently from the wooden tool with its horizontal cutter) were introduced about 1860 . . . the earliest known to us appears in Leonard Bailey’s patent of 13th July 1858 . . .”

Top left, 2 wooden spokeshaves, one with nuts fitted to the tangs for adjustment (both have brass wear plates set into the sole), below a Record A63 with blade convex from back to front. Top right a Record A151 (“the crab” as Vanessa calls it) and the type most commonly seen and used today, below is a Stanley 53 with a hinged sole and single adjustment screw (I first heard about this in one of James Krenov’s books and found this one in a boot-fair for a few pence - it’s my favourite), at the bottom is a dinky little set of miniature brass spokeshaves which I just acquired. L-R flat sole, sole convex from back to front, sole convex from side to side.

Unfortunately the grind on the blades is very coarse and needed a lot of lapping and honing on the back of the blades to get them really sharp.

Good for finishing spoons as they just nestle in your hand.


Woodland Antics said...

Hi robin,

nice little collection. Perhaps I will pay a bit more attention to mine now,



Dazy said...

It's something new to me. But I think genuine old shaves are very glamorous. Authentic!