Make a Spokeshave





Introduction: Make a Spokeshave

About: I have been working with wood since I could stumble into the shop with my dad. About a year ago I moved into a house with no space for a full shop so I decided to take up all hand tool wood working. That sta...

Spokeshave is a fantastic tool to play with and a surprisingly easy tool to make. There are only two parts to a traditional spokeshave. 1. the iron, 2. the body.

You can find the irons on eBay from time to time or at your local antique store if you know what you are looking for.

or you can buy threaded irons here.

Tools needed:

Hand saw:



File and rasp set:

(optional) Spokeshave:

Step 1: Chose Your Wood

The body can be made out of most any hardwood, but traditionally, European Beach one of the best. In this case I used White Oak which works very nicely as well. One of the most common Woods used today hard maple.

Step 2: Mark Moles for Iron

First, choose a blank that is approximately 8 inches longer than the iron you want to use. The blank I am using is approximately 1-inch square by 11 inches long, as I'm using a 3 inch long iron. Position the iron centered on one side of the black, and then with light taps use the iron to Mark out the locations for the tangs that need to go through the body.

Step 3: Drill for Iron Tangs

Next, drill two the holes all the way through the blank. Make the hole diameter approximately the same with as the Tang, but that can vary as a square tang will shape its own hole.

Step 4: Make Way for Chips to Be Ejected

Next, Align the iron in the two holes that you made, and mark on the blank where the front of the iron is. Also, mark the sides of the iron so you know how wide to make the slot. Once the marks have been made and take the iron out and then cut two stop cuts on either side of where the iron will be at 45° back from the tip of the iron. Then remove the waste with a chisel. This will create an opening for the chips to eject from iron.

Step 5: Fit Iron to Body.

Next, You need to cut a small Groove from the hole you drilled to the mouth you cut so that the iron can't fit all the way down flat to the blank. Then, test the fit of the iron. The first time you drive it down it will be tight and will probably need small adjustments to make it fit all the way down.

Step 6: Shape Handle to Desired Feel

Next, shape the sole if you want it rounded or flat. This can be made any way you want to fit your uses. The handles also can be shaped with chisels to remove most of the waste. And then rasps and files or another spokeshave. There you go. A functional spokeshave.

if you want to find out more about spokeshaves, what they do and how to sharpen them. here is a second video that may help.



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    28 Discussions

    my dad used to have those some 50 years ago. I wonder where they went. As a kid I used them often. worked very well

    1 reply

    They are so much fun to play with. it would be cool if you could find them

    Seems like people really like your stuff here too. Glad we could help get you over here.

    Yours was a very well-done instructable in most every aspect and should be a winner!I I would have liked it better if you began with even only 45 seconds of an explanation about what a spokeshave is, what it does and how to use it. The video portion to go along with the text should contain close-ups of the tool and a pointing device (slender contrasting colored stick made with a spokeshave?) "touching/sliding over the parts as you speak and of course, you actually using the tool in different ways on an actual project with the words such as you briefly did at the end of the video. It does not need to be long for this type of intro. In fact, you did well with brevity, yet clarity--just reorder your video and elaborate on the portions as I expressed above. Another really nice "bonus' would have been to include a few shots of ways the average Joe (or Jane!) could use this tool around their house/yard. I am thinking of uses such as to shave off a small splinter on a fence or planter, or get into to tough to reach places on a project. (Unless I am wrong about this).

    I am a very beginner woodworker, and I had never heard the term "spokeshave". If you made these changes as I delineated above, i It would excite me (and others) into thinking --"Hey, I could really use one of these. I am going to make one this week!" Nevertheless, since my mind is always whirring with ideas, I will make one!

    3 replies

    I suspect that most of today's beginning woodworkers have never held a spokeshave unless when visiting a very well furnished shop, or when perusing items on sale in a woodworker's specialty store, or as fortunate as I was, when, despite being enrolled in an academic program during the 8th grade, 60 years ago, was instructed on the use of the spokeshave and the drawknife. I suspect that I won't likely need one unless I eventually build the great wooden clock movement that has one very large wheel which would look much more elegant with spokes. None-the-less, if I were to find a suitable very small iron, I would pick it up. I had enjoyed carving odd things back then, including two wood chains, a combination lock, and a few years later, a walnut capo with band of very heavy monofilament and peg of carved walnut for my guitar.

    very true. in the modern shop it is not very common, but once you learn it it is a lot of fun to use. I often find I am reaching for it when something else will do just as well. and that is only because it is a joy to use.

    Thanks. a lot of what you mentioned was in my second video on how to sharpen and use the tool. Unfortunately, a lot of the videos I make are geared toward a woodworker with a few years experience. I am trying to occasionally make more entry level videos, but there are not many woodworkers that start with all hand tools. again thanks for the great comment and great ideas!

    I find myself motivated to comment on JamesGannons concerns. Craftsmen often make their own tools. The small tweaks create a tool that is just a little better in some way than the factory product. Often the homemade tool has a special purpose not envisioned by tool manufacturers. Usually the craftsman uses the materials at hand to create tools. The woodworker uses wood and the potter uses clay. I possess several block planes and clamps ( inherited) that were made by my ancestors. I find that buying or making your tools is a lifes work or even more than one lifes work. One adds tools as the projects demand. One does not buy a table saw for a single project but rather as an investment in the future. As time passes more tools accumulate and more projects become possible. Spreading the cost over time and projects makes things reasonable. In time JamesGannon will find that his projects require fewer or no new tools and his wallet will fatten in a most satisfactory way. By the way, I loved your instructable.

    1 reply

    No offence meant here but buying even one of the tools listed is far far pricier than just buying a spoke shave. Yes making your won tools is far more satisfying and probably much higher quality but the idea of an instructable is not to blow your wallet.

    3 replies

    I disagree. The idea of an Instructable is to instruct on the processes and methods behind projects. Many people already have many of the tools listed. If you don't have a specific tool, there might be an Instructable on how to make one of those, as well.

    Right on. There are many things that are made because I want to make them. even when using a $300 tool to make a $1 trinket. This whole place is all about how to make whatever you want. you will find someone with the information you are looking for.

    This tis something someone makes once they have been woodworking for a while so those tools are usually things that someone has on hand already.

    Perfect timing! I need one to make tomahawk handles. I watched a demo, making bent back chairs. Started with an oak log, shaped all spindles. I have to make one!? The Woodworker Shop has them for $40+. I may have to make a blade too. Thank you very much. Stevep

    1 reply

    Thanks, Making the blade would be a lot of fun. that is on my list once I get a forge up and runnign.

    very nice - great job! send me an iron and I'mm make one for myself.

    1 reply

    I wish I could but after posting the video ebay sold out of the decent priced irons.