Ebony Spokeshave

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Project by Chiaroscuro posted 11-25-2017 07:21 AM 1937 views 2 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch

So when I was building my perch stool, I very much missed having a spokeshave to help fare the outside curves. The other piece of equipment I felt I needed and didn’t have was a travisher, but I’m still working on that one. At some point I had had a metal one (a Stanley copycat I think), but after tearing my shop apart in the middle of the build I have decided it walked out on its own somehow. Anyhow, I had been eyeing the Veritas kit for the large spokeshave on Lee Valley’s site for a while, and after my frustration with the build I ordered the kit. I had also been wanting to make a tool out of ebony ever since seeing a bow saw made out of ebony. When I priced out the wood for a bow saw I nearly had a heart attack.

This was for sale on Jim Bode tools (it’s been bought) and it was posted on Pinterest under woodworking.

Anyway, I had a little extra funds available for woodworking so I splurged on a blank of ebony. Not an easy wood to work with hand tools (or any tool for that matter). At first I thought I couldn’t cut it with my low angle jack plane, but after sharpening it I was able to take shavings, but only for 20-30 passes before I had to hone the blade again. I couldn’t get my #4 (Veritas with a PM-V11 blade) to take a cut at all. It’s bedded at 45 degrees and the low angle jack actually had a high bevel blade in (I think the combined angle was 55 degrees). I had a hard time with my chisels too (PM-V11, the O1 steel wouldn’t cut at all) and splintered a cut at one point. The directions from Veritas were very complete and had power and hand tool options, but I don’t think the design was made with such a hard wood in mind.

These are the only pictures I took of the build.

-- Todd

9 comments so far

View Brit's profile


8168 posts in 3691 days

#1 posted 11-25-2017 09:32 AM

Nice shave. Sounds like you learnt a lot along the way and ended up with a great tool.

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

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 3715 days

#2 posted 11-25-2017 01:34 PM

These are all wonderful shop made tools and so nicely done. They are real eye catchers.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View ColonelTravis's profile


1976 posts in 2742 days

#3 posted 11-26-2017 12:22 AM

Great job. I haven’t used ebony much but I love working it with hand tools. It can be silky smooth to plane, or chip out on you, it’s a genuine challenge. If you’re patient, the end result is beautiful, as you’ve got here.

View Tim Royal 's profile

Tim Royal

320 posts in 2335 days

#4 posted 11-26-2017 03:07 AM

VERY nice tool. Great work

-- -Tim Royal -"Pride makes us artificial and humility makes us real." -Thomas Merton

View JADobson's profile


1449 posts in 2959 days

#5 posted 11-26-2017 05:44 AM

Looks really nice. I’ve asked for that kit for Christmas…forgot to ask for an ebony blank. Wonder if its too late? :)

-- No craft is very far from the line beyond which is magic. -- Lord Dunsany — Instagram @grailwoodworks

View Chiaroscuro's profile


130 posts in 1623 days

#6 posted 11-26-2017 08:09 AM

Thanks all! JADobson – getting the right piece was actually not the easiest find, you might need to be involved.

-- Todd

View Chiaroscuro's profile


130 posts in 1623 days

#7 posted 11-26-2017 10:00 PM


After trying the spokeshave for a while I realized the mouth was too tight. In full disclosure, I didn’t actually follow the instructions there and actually had made it tighter than instructed. It wasn’t taking the shavings I wanted even with the blade extended. With the build, there was a bit of a ledge between the 45 of the tool body and the 45 on the brass wear plate. I also noted the right side was maybe a 32 to 64th wider (the plate was slightly angled). I had gotten some planemaker’s floats from Lie Nielsen for my birthday from my family and used the small cheek float to bring the bed down toward the brass. Then I took down the left side of the brass plate slightly to even up the opening.

You can see how I took off material. The brass looks uneven but now presents a flat even register to the wood. I now need to re-sand and re-coat the area in BLO and Paste Wax.

Oh, and it cuts like butter now :)

-- Todd

View Chiaroscuro's profile


130 posts in 1623 days

#8 posted 11-26-2017 11:23 PM

Left side set for thin cut (soft and thin, they crumple when compressed), right side for thicker/coarse cut (thick and hard, they break when compressed).

-- Todd

View Chiaroscuro's profile


130 posts in 1623 days

#9 posted 03-18-2019 12:29 AM

Just used it to taper my Mahogony end table legs… working great when not cutting up hill. The grain direction changed so much though it was a bit of a pain.

-- Todd

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