Spokeshaves and Scrapers

A spokeshave is, essentially, a narrow plane, but is used for cutting convex or concave curves. It is more difficult to use than a plane, and practising on narrow softwood offcuts will help you master the necessary skills. You will probably need a pair of spokeshaves, as convex and concave curves require separate tools. The difference is the sole.



Most spokeshaves are cast metal, although you can still buy traditional tools with hardwood bodies. There are basically two patterns: flat-sole spokeshaves for cutting convex curves and curved-sole tools for concave shapes. Both are identical apart from the sole, and the sharpening technique is the same as for block planes.

The blade is held in place by a cap iron, tightened with a thumbscrew. The simplest spokeshaves have no adjuster — you slacken off the cap iron and slide the blade up or down to judge the depth of cut. Once set correctly, these basic tools can be very satisfying to use. More sophisticated spokeshaves have twin-screw adjusters, which enable you to align and set the blade precisely. More specialized spokeshaves for chair-making have half-round and radial faces. These are used for shaping chair legs and rails, as well as seats.

Standard Spokeshaves

How To Use A Spokeshave

Both types of spokeshave are held and used in the same way. With the blade set to make a shallow cut, grip the handles with your thumbs sitting on their rear edges. Push the tool away from you, making a series of short strokes. If a clean shaving is not produced, adjust the blade setting or alter the angle at which the sole meets the wood. Often you will need to do both.

A flat-sole spokeshave is used for shaping convex curves. A curved sole is slightly more versatile and is used for shaping concave curves, although can also be used on shallow convex curves if necessary.

Because of their size, spokeshave blades are more awkward to grip when sharpening than plane irons. To make this easier, cut a slot in a suitable scrap of hardwood and insert the blade, so extending the grip.

Scraper Planes

A scraper plane resembles a steel bench plane, except for the blade which you sharpen like a cabinet scraper. A handled scraper looks rather like a large spokeshave. Both tools relieve the pressure and heat on the thumbs common with conventional cabinet scrapers. Each has a flat sole and cutting depth is adjusted with a thumbscrew that exerts pressure on the blade. This is an excellent tool for finishing wide. flat surfaces without creating the burning sensation on your thumbs that occurs when using a normal cabinet scraper.

Cabinet Scrapers

The cabinet scraper is probably the simplest woodworking tool to use, and sharpened and used effectively it will produce a fine surface which needs no further cleaning up. Straight and curved scrapers enable a wide range of surfaces to be prepared.

Made from a piece of thin, tempered steel, a cabinet scraper may be rectangular or have curved edges. A correctly sharpened tool produces a shaving, rather than dust. After preparing the steel with a file and oilstone, create a small burr along its cutting edge using a burnisher.

How To Use A Cabinet Scraper

To use the scraper, grip it in both hands and place it on the timber, then push it across the surface with your thumbs exerting pressure on the middle of the blade. You can adjust the cut by changing the angle and amount of curve on the blade.

How To Sharpen A Cabinet Scraper

1 With the scraper held in a vice, draw a flat file along the long edge to get it square. Repeat on the opposite edge. Remove the scraper from the vice.

2 Hold each face of the blade flat on an oilstone and slide it across the surface to remove the burr. Change the blade position frequently to prevent a groove appearing.

3 Hold the scraper flat on the bench top and draw the burnisher firmly along the edge several times. Keep the burnisher flat as well.

4 Return the scraper to the vice. Holding the burnisher at about 85 degrees, draw it firmly along the edge of the blade to form a burr. Lean the burnisher towards you for two or three strokes, then away from you to create two separate cutting edges. Repeat the process along the opposite edge.


The tools used :

Word Discription :

Burnisher A straight, hardened steel blade set into a handle for raising the burr on a scraper. It may be oval or circular in section.

Sole The machined face of a spokeshave or plane, which comes into contact with the timber. A spokeshave will have either a flat or curved sole.

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