New life, to a bunch, of metal spokeshaves.

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Blog entry by mafe posted 08-13-2019 02:44 PM 795 reads 0 times favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch

New life, to a bunch, of metal spokeshaves.
a good deal, became a lot of work.

A few weeks back I stumbled over a good deal on ten metal spokeshaves and as we say in Denmark; once you said A, you got to say B…
So this blog is about bringing them back to life, thoughts on restore and how I think they should be fine tuned.
Let’s jump right in:

Here the photos from the add.
This photo makes them look quite nice, but…
It was especially the two on top, that I found to have a special charm to them.

From the back it’s more easy to see, that some work would need to be done and perhaps one or two had to be trashed, if the rust was too deep into the soles.
The guy wanted 35 dkk / 5 usd / 4 gbp, each including shipping, so I kind of had to say yes, even I have a few spokeshaves already…

So they arrived and I could see they were just as bad as I had expected. :-D

Left them in plastic bags with WD40 over night.

I had the joy of spending the days in my dear friend Ty’s summerhouse (thank you TY).
So a comfortable chair, under a tree in the hot sun.
Different grades of sandpaper, WD40, oil, steelwool, towel and elbow fat.

Unpacking and I’m less worried.

Some worse than others.

The truth shows up on the sole and when you take out the blade.

Flattening the back of the cap iron and removing all rust.

All the worst rust are also removed from the blades.

One by one.

Overall the bodies are fine.

The soles also get a tour with sandpaper, grit 120 – 240 – 320.
This is before. ;-)

Hmmmmm, wonder where that goes!
Some have surprises inside, like this heavy rust on the blade.

Well, well, well, some heavy sanding and it looks like it’s possible to recover the beautiful old iron.

Ok after a good day of cleaning and sanding, it looks a wee better.

All soles are able to be restored, they will need some more work, but the rust is not too deep.
4 flat soles and 6 rounds – lucky me.

Back in my workshop.
Drawing by my girlfriend Yeli, she offered me as a gift – I’m a lucky man.
(She keeps impressing me, with her many talents).

Here on my table, spokeshave mania.
I’ll give a few of my old once a tour, while I’m at it.

Remember the old one I liked and were one of the reasons for buying them all?
Yes this one, I replaced the bolts, they were different and in bad condition, so I made some brass threaded rod, to fit in the body, two brass washers and had these two beautiful old brass wing nuts in my box of madness (they came from an old toilet seat). So now it can be easily adjusted.
Finally the iron in it was a standard spokeshave blade, but the body was made for a 6cm wide iron, so I cut up a block plane iron and gave it a new cutting edge, so the spokeshave could get back to former glory.

I love when people use my shavinghorse outside the shop, it’s become the bench of the street – here grandparents, taking care of a baby, in a lift.

On the old types, there can be many issues, that will prevent them from working properly, on this old one, it was the sole on the cap iron, that needed a flattening and a fresh hollow, before it would work. It was one of the first tools I bought many years back and I never had it work before, it took ten years to get the understanding of the planes before I could figure out this bastard… Laughs.
I made the hollow with a Dremmel tool.

Here it is, the beautiful old monster spokeshave.
Now working like a dream, after a wee tuning of that cap iron.

Compared to the standard size spokeshave.

Back to the restoration:
I start with the soles. After the cleaning and sanding away any rust, it’s time to make them dead flat.
Here on a diamond plate, but you can use sandpaper on glass also.
After 25 passes, it’s clear, that this baby need a wee love.

35 more…

50 more…

And finally after another 40 passes, this baby is flat!

On the beltsander, I go, 600 – 1200 – 2500 grit, just fast so I don’t deform it again and then finally a tour on the leather strop.

That’s how a sole should look!
At least I’m happy. Smiles.

Here we take the favorite apart, for some tuning.
With a file, the bed (where the iron rest) is made flat, sideway passes with the file, so you dont deform the bed.
In my book this don’t need to be all sanded down and shiny, just that the surface is all flat, so the blade can be held down firmly.

Flattening the cap iron on a stone.

Making some shaves with the new iron.

Ohh yes, I coat the blades with Camelia oil, to prevent rust and to make the shaves fly off.

And now to something completely different.
I drill a series of holes 5 cm / 2 inches apart, in an angle, in a piece of pine wood…

Look to the right, the spokeshaves will now have a place to hang. ;-)
Yes and some on the left also, and some in my green woodworking tool bag and a few can be sold…

Let’s talk about the most important part.
The iron or blade, what ever you prefer to call it.
I’ll jump a little around here, so bare with me.
Here the bevel side after it has been resharpened on a water grinder, you can see it needs more work.
But now we have the new cutting angle set and all old chipping in the blade grinded away.

The back how ever looks a mess.
As long as it’s flat we don’t mind the grinding marks, but at the part that are touching the wood, we want it all flat and no marks, as this will make lines in the wood and make it less easy to cut.
So more work to be done.

I start with grit 1000 Japanese waterstone, home in the pond. ;-)
Keep going forward and backward, use the full length of the stone and turn it once in a while. Also rinse surface and keep it wet, with water, during your work.

This one too quite a few passes.
But we are getting closer.
Only the sides are still not ok.

As I use my finger as a guide on the side of the stone, I usually also wear off my skin…

Once you bleed to much, put on a sexy band aid.

Hell yes!
I have app, 3 mm of completely flat all the way now.
That’s fine for now and when you sharpen the blade you only sharpen the back every 5 – 10 times, so it will slowly get away as you use it.

So time to work on making the grinded side into a sharpened side.
Here the surface of the blade does not matter, as it will have no contact with the bed or the cutting, so it just need to be rust free, flat and in a fair shape.

First 20 passes on the 1000 grit stone, then 25 on the 8000 grit.
We have a wee hollow, a heal and a cutting edge now, just perfect.
Yes I sharpen these blades free hand, as I have set the angle on the wet grinder and the hollow makes it really easy to huld it flat.

The newer blades are easier.

This old beauty have a lot of pitting / brust on the surface and that will give a terrible cutting edge, so that will need some more work.

I go back to the belt grinder, to go as deep into the metal I need, before all the pitting is gone.
This can be done on stones or with sandpaper also, this is just fast and I restore 14 blades today, so I need to be sweet to my arms.

Now at the wetgrinder, the blade gets a new 25° bevel and I put Sharpie on the edge, to see when I have a all new cutting edge, that all dings in the edge are gone and that it’s straight.

Yes still on my good old cheapo wet grinder (10 years and several thousand sharpenings later), even I gave it a new stone today, for the fourth time, since I bought it. The stone had become so small, that I could not make a 25° edge on the small blades. ;-)
It was hell to get the stone out, as the crank had rusted into the stone and I had to break the stone, to get it away, then minor repair of the housing and finally the new stone in place. 2,5 hours… But now it can work a couple of years again and I do love this old fellow, as it has been with me through all my cutting tools and it’s yeas ago I lost count of the numbers.

Just set blade in jig and sharpen.
Make sure it’s straight and make even passes or uneven when you need to correct an old blade.

Using one of these, to keep an eye on the cutting edge.
But also feeling on the back of the blade, when the magic burr are there and that it’s even from side to side, before you stop.

That’s how we can get a sharp line cutting edge like this.

If you don’t have a steady hand, you can use a jig, look in my projects and you will find my blog about this one.

It works with the sharpening jig and you can set a digital angle on the metal washer.

But I like to use my hands. :-D

But when sharpening a low angle plane iron, I like to use a jig….

Almost there.

Back to the pond…
8000 grit on all the irons backs also.
I like to go 1000 – 3000 – 8000.

Honing seven passes all flat, with carvers gold polish on a leather strop.

Once the bevel edge is done also, it gets seven passes also, be carful not to pull too hard.
Now we have a blade that are so sharp, that you can cut a hair down the middle.
(But who on earth would do that?).

Some acid free oil for the screws.

Camelia for the blades.
I actually also wiped all the spokeshave bodies with a Camelia soaked cloth, for rust prevention.

Let’s do some shaves, curly because I skew the blade as I cut.
When you put the blade in, the bevel goes down, flat side up.
Set it a wee too deep in the body, tighten screw, but just gently, then tap it down, with a small hammer, if you get too deep, you just tap on the body behind the blade and it will move back up, for side to side adjustment, simply tap on the sides of the blade, until you are happy, once happy tighten the screw completely.
Some prefer the types with adjuster screws, I prefer these, I have both and use both.

Testing them all.

Cutting edge and sole protection.
You can take a piece of cloth, leather or what ever you have and cut off a piece a little bigger than the blade with, then make a cut down to split it like I show here.

Then simply roll it around the spokeshave and use the ends to tie it up.

Or hang them in your cabinet.
Now the hanger are really in use.
I like to hang them like this, so I can see the soles, as they are different and I will find the right one for the job easy.

A few on the other side.

Cheers says the happy monkey, this was quite a lot of work, but I think it was well worth it.
(As long as you are not payed by the hour).

My scraper shaves are also still happy. ;-)

Hope it can be to some inspiration, perhaps something can be learned, or at least you smiled.

Best thoughts,


-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

14 comments so far

View Dave Polaschek's profile (online now)

Dave Polaschek

4074 posts in 1037 days

#1 posted 08-13-2019 03:41 PM

Nice recovery and restoration of some solid old shaves.

-- Dave - Minneapolis

View kaerlighedsbamsen's profile


1304 posts in 2168 days

#2 posted 08-13-2019 03:50 PM

Can almost feel how you enjoyed doing this project. A fine result and – again – thank you for the one you left me!
(der ser ud til at mangle en del billeder ud fra teksten)

-- "Do or Do not. There is no try." - Yoda

View drewpy's profile


938 posts in 1812 days

#3 posted 08-13-2019 03:54 PM

Your restoration work continues to amaze me. Great job!

-- Drew -- "The greatest wealth is health".

View mafe's profile


12096 posts in 3544 days

#4 posted 08-13-2019 04:12 PM

So sorry guys, I have corrected the mistake with the missing pictures now.

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

23009 posts in 3560 days

#5 posted 08-13-2019 04:51 PM

Those spokeshaves sure found the right home. You worked your magic on them and they are new again.
You are a rhykenologist as a collector of planes what is a collector of spokeshaves called??

cheers, Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View mafe's profile


12096 posts in 3544 days

#6 posted 08-13-2019 05:33 PM

Ok, just had one more go, I really messed this one up, due to the fact my mobile calls the files jpg and my cameras JPG, combined with the fact that html is case-sensitive…

Guess we cant hit the bulls eye each time…
Hope it’s all ok now.
Big smile.

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View tyvekboy's profile


1917 posts in 3468 days

#7 posted 08-13-2019 05:33 PM

Great restoration picture/story. Thanks for sharing. Beautiful results.

-- Tyvekboy -- Marietta, GA ………….. one can never be too organized

View pottz's profile


5791 posts in 1439 days

#8 posted 08-13-2019 05:52 PM

so nice to see rusty old tools being brought back to life,nice work mads.

-- sawdust the bigger the pile the bigger my smile-larry,so cal.

View lew's profile


12823 posts in 4210 days

#9 posted 08-13-2019 10:15 PM

Judging by the bandaid on your finger, I’d say you got them sharp!

I love the hominess and warmth of your shop.

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View MrWolfe's profile


260 posts in 578 days

#10 posted 08-14-2019 01:14 AM

Thank you for sharing your process!
It is great to see someone painstakingly go through all the steps of a restoration or a build.
Your shop and your studio look very cool!!! Nice art.
Your restorations are top notch!

View swirt's profile


4072 posts in 3427 days

#11 posted 08-14-2019 02:33 AM

Woweee that’s a lot of spokeshaves. Nice restoration on each and every one.

-- Galootish log blog,

View madts's profile


1903 posts in 2795 days

#12 posted 08-14-2019 08:50 PM

Way to much fun. But congrats on all the spokeshaves.


-- Thor and Odin are still the greatest of Gods.

View Brit's profile


7753 posts in 3298 days

#13 posted 08-15-2019 06:42 AM

OMG Mads! I know how much work that was to do. I have spent many hours moving metal across stones of all description and wishing I’d never started. Aching skinless fingers and sore feet from standing all day. If I wore a hat, I’d tip it to you sir.

It always amazes me though that after restoring a bunch of tools and spending all that time doing it, the pain is quickly forgotten and all that remains is a smile and shavings on the floor.

-- Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10669 posts in 4507 days

#14 posted 08-16-2019 04:09 AM


Very GOOD!

I have an old spokeshave…

No matter how I install the blade, it ALWAYS ends up GRABBING the wood BIG TIME…
... Very figity!

Sometimes I wonder… Bevel UP or Bevel DOWN… I get the same results either way I have it!

Thank you…

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:

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