Renewing a Spokeshave




Introduction: Renewing a Spokeshave

I was given a spokeshave from a friend recently, since he knew I was looking for one. He had picked it up from a garage sale for $2, not a bad deal since it was in decent shape, just neglected for a few years.

Here's a quick little guide to refinishing a spokeshave. I was specifically working with a #151 Stanley spokeshave, which has since been replaced with the near identical, 12-951 spokeshave. Some would say the older 151 is preferable, as it is of higher quality, having been made in England.

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Step 1: Gather Your Supplies

You will need:
-spokeshave (obviously)
-wire brush
-cloth rag (paper towel will work)
-pliers/vice grips (optional)
-screwdriver (matched to screws)
-sharpening stone or system

Step 2: Disassembly

Spokeshaves and their cousins, planes, are simple tools usually containing only a handful of screws/thumb turns. When taking it apart, pay attention to the order and orientation of the blade and cover.

Remove all screws and place to the side.

Step 3: Cleaning

Now that all the components are apart, the dirt and rust is readily apparent, but also easy to reach. Start by taking a moist cloth and wipe down all surfaces, some of the surface rust will come off at this point. Let dry.

Take a wire brush, the smaller the better, and brush vigorously. Careful of your fingers, as the metal bristles can cause some pretty good slivers. Most or all of the rust should come off from brushing, if the surface has become pitted removing all the rust becomes difficult, and pitting may compromise the quality of the tool. Minor pitting can be later removed by sanding/grinding, if necessary.

I started with the body.handle of the tool, which is cleaned easily due to it's flat surface. When cleaning the thumb-turns and screws, be sure to get in between the threads and into all the corners, anything you miss at this stage has the potential to continue with corrosion.

The last item I cleaned was the blade itself, figuring, in a worst case scenario, I could just replace the blade.

While there was no pitting on the blade, the cutting edge had been dented and marred. Luckily, YuKonstruct (my local makerspace) has a tool sharpening system, making re-sharpening a cinch. The only problem I encountered was not having an appropriate guide for the spoke shave blade, so I had to free-hand the edge. The system comes with guides for multiple tools, including knives, axes, planes, etc. but due to the fact that the blade of the spoke shave is so much shorter than that of a planer, the guide for sharpening flat blade tools didn't work.

Step 4: Reassembly

Once everything is clean and sharp it's time to put it all back together.

Starting with the thumb screws, wind them onto the threaded rods (these adjust the depth and angle of your blade).

Then screw in the blade screw, leaving it loose enough for adjustment.

Slip in the blade, aligning the slots with the thumb turns.

Slide in the lever cap, lining up so the screw passes through the key-hole in the lever cap.

Last, screw in the lever cap thumb turn, which holds everything tight and together.

Now you're ready to adjust your blade depth and get to shavin'.

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    5 Discussions


    4 years ago on Step 4

    Just a couple of extras that might help preserve the tool for later generations.They are quite expensive to buy new of a good quality. Once you have the rust really angry with the wire brush use some sandpaper on the worst bits just to remove the worst then paint Phosphoric acid on it ands allow to sit for at least an hour . You can buy 85% acid and water it 50:50 or you can use "Ironise" or similar products. Wash the parts in water and allow to dry . Brush off any white residue and the rust should now be inert Iron Phosphate. At this point I paint my tools with a zinc based etch primer . For this I would do the blade , knurled nuts and threads as well as the handles . I would then paint it all black with a polyurethane black , not epoxy as this powders away in sunlight . I would leave the threads and the blade in primer and then sharpen the blade and face the shaver bottom with an oilstone .

    At this point I then spray the whole thing with lanolin spray which leaves a film of sheep's grease . To use -take out the blade , clean with kero ,use the tool, respray blade and bottom flat with lanolin spray. I have had 2 done like that for 35 years so far and they are like brand new.


    Spokeshave blades can easily be sharpened and honed to a very precise cutting instrument with simple scrap wood fixtures:

    It's a great tool to have, even if you don't use it every day. I favor it for blending joints that butt together like edge glue- ups, it's a lot easier to level the adjacent surfaces than a plane.

    The blade tension screw is usually an odd thread type, so don't lose it during the refit.


    Reply 4 years ago

    That's a great idea, especially now that I've removed the nicks. Seems like a great way to keep a nice sharp edge easily.


    4 years ago

    nice nice have not seen one for a long time dad had one lol nice to see one still being used thanx for making my evening


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Jesus, at least put one or two commas in there.