Highland Woodworking Wood News Online, No. 146, October 2017 Welcome to Highland Woodworking - Fine Tools & Education Learn more about Highland Woodworking View our current woodworking classes and seminars Woodworking articles and solutions Subscribe to Wood News
Tool Review: Veritas Low Angle Spokeshave
By Jeff Fleisher

One of the most frequently overlooked tools in the shop is the spokeshave . If you are considering a project where you will need to shape either a concave or convex surface, consider the benefits of using a Veritas Low Angle Spokeshave for the initial shaping.

A couple of years ago I built a Sam Maloof rocking chair which is known for its flowing lines and gentle curves.

When you look at a project like this, which has the need to sculpt the surfaces to blend together, most people think...rasp. You can certainly take off a lot of wood with an Auriou Rasp but that is not necessarily the first tool you should use to start the shaping process. I recommend you reach for a spokeshave which removes wood much like a hand plane . Long variable sized shavings will produce a beautiful surface with much less dust and in a much shorter amount of time.

The Veritas Low Angle Spokeshave is based on 19th century wooden spokeshave designs with modern technology upgrades. First, Veritas realized that it would be much easier to adjust the spokeshave by fixing the blade in place and adjusting the toe piece instead. Therefore, the depth of cut is adjusted by moving the toe piece. You can also change the orientation of the toe plate for concave versus convex work. In one orientation, the toe piece can be set for convex or flat work, or flipped 180 degrees for concave work.

To demonstrate, I put a convex shape on a piece of walnut. Shown below is an 8/4 piece of walnut fixed up in my vise so I can put the curve on the top surface.

Hold the tool with a light overhand grip with one handle in each hand. Starting on the edge, pull towards yourself and start to take off shavings to create facets along the surface. The key to a very smooth surface is to make smaller and smaller facets. The spokeshave can take off a lot of material very quickly.

Repeat these types of cuts to create multiple facets and begin to create a rounded or shaped surface.

Once you start to get comfortable with the feel of taking a large shaving with the spokeshave you can change the toe plate setup to make it even more flexible. Instead of a consistent gap between the blade and toe plate you can offset the toe plate and create a variable depth of cut.

In the photo above, you can see that the gap or depth of cut is much wider on the left side than on the right side. This gives you the ability to vary the size of cut without having to stop and reset your blade. If you need a deep wider cut just slide over and use the left side of the tool. If you need to take a lighter cut just slide over to the right side of the tool. In the picture below I created a shaving from each side of the tool to show the difference. It is hard to see but the cut on the right is narrower and thinner than the cut on the left.

Besides creating a shaped surface very quickly the spokeshave creates a high quality surface...much like a smoother plane blade. In the picture below, you see a very smooth surface with no visible facets or roughness. The spokeshave creates a surface that requires only modest, if any, sanding.

Obviously, there are small shapes and deep curves that a spokeshave cannot create and that is where you will want to use rasps and files of various grits. But it is very hard to beat a spokeshave when creating those long flowing shapes. There is also a very calming, Zen-like, feeling as you gently guide the blade over the surface of the wood and see that silky smooth shape appear. I highly recommend adding the Veritas Low Angle Spokeshave to your collection of hand tools.

Find out more and purchase your own
Veritas Low Angle Spokeshave

Jeffrey Fleisher has been a woodworker for approximately 20 years and a professional woodworker for the past 6 years. He is the president of his local woodturning club, the Woodturners of the Virginias and past president of the Northern Virginia Carvers. You can see some of the furniture he has made at www.jeffswooddesigns.com . He can be reached by email at furnmkr@gmail.com

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