Hand Tools - Working on going unplugged a little

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Blog entry by David Craig posted 06-22-2010 09:35 PM 1869 reads 0 times favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch

With the confidence gained recently with the use of properly sharped chisels, I decided to make hand tools the center of my next tool splurge. True to my word, with the great customer service provided by Highland Woodworking, I placed another order and received the following -

Dovetail saw, calipers, bowl thickness gauge

Mallet, vertitas marking gauge

The spokeshaves were an impulse purchase at Harbor Freight. Both for 12 bucks and I haven’t seen spokeshaves at any local stores. I picked up a Crown dovetail gent’s saw (good reviews on fine woodworking) but am feeling that the teeth orientation is more crosscut than rip which I feel is contrary to the purpose of a dovetail saw. I did see some online articles on refiling and will probably work on that soon. I also picked up some turning calipers and dividers, the bowl thickness gauge I found helpful over Mike’s and thought it worth picking up. I did not have a marking gauge so I picked up the Veritas which looks to be a very handy device. The brass mallet is a two pounder which I found to be ideal for chisels. Just a quick flick of the wrist for shallow cuts but has the power to drive a mortising chisel in deep when it is needed.

The spokeshaves were an interesting find. I would not put them in an official review because I think that if you are spending 12 bucks, you are not really looking for quality at this point, especially in a type of plane. These are cheap knockoffs by Windsor Designs of the Stanley 151 spokeshave that is also put out by Kuntz. The good size of this is that blades replacement blades would be easy to find. They are die cast and the blades would not make a clean cut in butter let alone wood. In all honesty, one probably wouldn’t get much better through Stanley or Kuntz without a little work. I spent a good deal of time flattiening the back of the blade and sharpening the bevel. I need to take them through a few more grits, but I inserted the blades and adjusted and could get some pretty decent shavings from them on a test board. Only concerns is the non-adjustable throat that has a pretty good sized gap, making it a potential problem for irregular grained pieces. Here are the pics when adjusted. I keep the exposed blade thin to keep the shavings smooth and the tearout to a minimum.

Pic outlining the gap -


Next blog I will begin tonight involves a collection of pine I picked up that will be worked into a chair. I have been wanting to make one and now that I have the hand tools, I am going to give unplugged a try.

Happy woodworking all,


-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

15 comments so far

View jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 5587 days

#1 posted 06-22-2010 10:02 PM

Does this mean you don’t want to work in my 90 degree garage turning sweat? Nice bunch of tools by the way, at least I know you won’t be needing mine. LOL

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View degoose's profile


7286 posts in 4695 days

#2 posted 06-22-2010 10:15 PM

I always wanted to be a galhoot but I was too attached to my electron killing tools,.

-- Be safe.

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 4456 days

#3 posted 06-22-2010 10:44 PM

that´s not bad David congrat´s with your new toys , I´m sure you can play with them
at least a cupple of hours…LOL

about the spoke shaves if you remove the paint and flatten the bed (frog on a smoothplane)
you can get a desent spokeshave out of them
and if you think the mouth is too open you can use some metalshiims in different thickness
behind the blade to tighten the mouth

now you just have to make yourself a new shavinghorse to sit on when you use them ..:—))

have fun


View Cher's profile


965 posts in 4434 days

#4 posted 06-22-2010 10:48 PM

Nice tools you got there David, I’m just past doing things by hand. I’m always short of time.

-- When you know better you do better.

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4675 days

#5 posted 06-22-2010 11:10 PM

Congrats on your hand tool purchases David, all useful stuff. I just wanted to remind you that spoke shaves should be tuned up, especially the less expensive ones. There are some good articles in past issues or FWW on this or maybe on their website if you subscribe. You can adjust the mouth opening somewhat by using a shim if I remember correctly, but I’m not sure. Tuning really made a difference for me. If you can’t find anything about the tuning I will try to get the info for you. Just ask.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View BritBoxmaker's profile


4611 posts in 4377 days

#6 posted 06-22-2010 11:16 PM

I think I’ve still got the odd chisel but I’m addicted to electrons.

-- Martyn -- Boxologist, Pattern Juggler and Candyman of the visually challenging.

View a1Jim's profile


118309 posts in 4918 days

#7 posted 06-22-2010 11:20 PM

I hope they all do a great job for you.


View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 5014 days

#8 posted 06-22-2010 11:24 PM

Sounds good!

View Ecocandle's profile


1013 posts in 4407 days

#9 posted 06-23-2010 02:19 AM

Those are some fantastic purchases. I really like your impulse buy of spokeshaves. Hand tools are cool!

-- Brian Meeks,

View canadianchips's profile


2632 posts in 4338 days

#10 posted 06-23-2010 03:57 AM

Good to hear others are enjoying hand tools. My power tools are used, BUT for some good “Wood working therapy ” I use my hand tools. They are quiet, less dust and I feel good after using them.

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

View Marc5's profile


304 posts in 4683 days

#11 posted 06-23-2010 04:12 AM

I have been transitioning to hand tools over the last year or so and have found it to be quite satisfying. Don’t sweat the gap in your spoke shave. My spoke shave has about the same gap and works fine once I sharpened the blade.

-- Marc

View swirt's profile


7141 posts in 4313 days

#12 posted 06-23-2010 05:27 AM

The gap on that spokesave is not unreasonable. I’ve got a vintage “sweetheart” Stanley 151 and I compared the gap to the one on yours. I see no difference, so your knockoff is not that bad. I’ve always meant to try shimming it, but so far have not really had good reason to. If it chatters just shift the pressure forward on the front of the sole a little bit.

-- Galootish log blog,

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2137 posts in 4449 days

#13 posted 06-24-2010 10:32 AM

Thanks for the comments all.

I enjoy my power tools as well and probably will never become a hand tool purist. Still, I like the idea of reaching a point where hand tools are a viable option on small projects and I was not totally bumming if the power goes out :)

Thanks for the comments regarding the spokeshaves as well. A few years ago, I was highly ignorant of the expectations of chisels and planes that you pickup at the big box stores. With nothing on the package indicating that sharpening or honing is required, one assumes that everything is ready to go. Since then, I have learned that items with a cutting edge might need a little (or a lot) more tlc to get it where it needs to be. I do believe the labor is a great learning experience and helps you really understand the tool.


-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View 8iowa's profile


1591 posts in 5102 days

#14 posted 06-24-2010 01:40 PM


Highland Woodworking is usually my first choice of supply. I stop in there (Atlanta) often on my trips up and down I 75. I’ve drooled over their Hofmann & Hammer workbenches.

Thanks to Chris Schwarz at Popular Woodworking I’ve acquired several new handplanes. I find that as my skills with them improve, I’m using them on almost every project.

-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4275 posts in 4505 days

#15 posted 06-24-2010 05:12 PM

Guess what the aging DIYer has hanging on his peg board….......a Stanley No. 151, Made in England. The price was marked on the sole, $9.80 in magic marker. I probably bought this in the 70’s, most likely in Madison Wisconsin, or possibly in Kentucky. There is some very superficial fine rust on it, but consistent with our humidity, not much.

It appears to have a smaller mouth than yours, but not for certain. Actually the mouth looks about right. The castings look similar, but not exact. The adjusting screws look a little more robust on mine, but that could be just the angle on the photograph

I am pretty sure it was used to smooth up the curves on the head and footboard of a cradle I made in 1974, for my middle daughter, that is still in use as a doll cradle. It may have been used again minimally, but since I didn’t wear off the magic marker price marking, two things are obvious. I never did any work on the sole, and it didn’t get an extraordinary amount of use.

I adjusted it a little and ran it over a piece of scrap pine. Bunch of chatter, and finally some curls. I think I would put some work in that thing before I used it for real, but it does function. Before last summer, what little I knew about planes and spokeshaves was knowledge from school shop classes. When I was in training and then out beginning practice I didn’t have much money, and hand tools got a fair amount of use. I am more likely to turn to a power tool now.

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

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