Lee Valley Veritas Small Spokeshave Kit

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Project by OSU55 posted 01-31-2014 06:01 PM 5514 views 2 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I have several cast iron spokeshaves, some small brass ones, and the wooden contour planes from Lee Valley. I really like the light weight and feel of the LV contour planes, but because of the blade tangs they are not easy to sharpen, and they tend to chatter (possibly due to the sharpening difficulties, in part at least). So, I wanted to some other wood spokeshave. I didn’t want an old one – too many unknowns. New ones are $100 and up. The LV kits looked like the best value and provided an opportunity to test the woodworking skills a bit and make part of the tool.

As is typical with LV all of the parts were there and in perfect working order. The provided instructions are thorough and accurate, but I would not call this project simple. I made about 3 passes through the instructions to understand how each step, and any mistakes, would impact the finished tool. LV does point out the critical parts of the process in the instructions.

I don’t have any exotic wood, so I chose some walnut I had. I cut 2 extra blanks in case I screwed up or decided to change the handle design later. LV provides instructions for a hand tool approach and a power tool approach. Since I was only making one, and I don’t have a small trim router, I went the hand tool route except for drilling the holes with a drill press (Strongly recommended by the instructions and I agree – the holes need to be perpendicular for blade adjustment to work correctly). If making several, the table saw method for cutting the ware makes sense, but I’m not so sure using a router as described makes sense – those that use them a lot could make a better judgement.

Cutting out the ware gave me an opportunity to try out a cheap japanese dozuki style saw I picked up at Grizzly several years ago as it is supposed to be used – there’s a reason for that saw design! I followed the tool types recommended in the instructions except for cutting the relief for the brass wear strip. I started with chisels, and knowing this needed to be flat and parallel to the bottom of the shave, ended up using an oriental ebony rabbet plane bedded at 45°. I could extend the blade out the required 0.130” with the plane sole supported by the bottom of the shave, ensuring a parallel and flat surface for the brass wear plate.

Lots of careful filing and fitting resulted in a good fit of the wear plate. Another deviation from the instructions – I threaded the adjustment holes by hand without a guide and they turned out perfect. I’ve threaded one or two holes in my time and have good skills to do it. Whether you use a guide or not, I recommend practicing the threading operation several times on scrap if you haven’t done much of it – it’s a critical operation for the project.

I chose to leave the handle fairly rectangular with rounded corners – the vertical flats give me a better feel for the tool’s orientation while cutting. One thing I didn’t do, and didn’t notice until I had topcoated the handle, I left the area between the adjustment screws on the ware (backside) of the handle straight insteaed of gently concave. More styling than anything since I pull the tool 90% of the time.

The finish is Target Coatings WR4000 stain base with Transtint medium brown and amber. Top coat is satin polyurethane, finished off with bowling alley wax.

The bottom of the blade required very little honing to get the front cutting edge flat. The blade came with a measured 22.5° bevel, and I honed a 30° micro bevel down to 0.3 um.

I’m very pleased with the flexibility and precision of the tool. I can adjust it to take wispy 0.001” or less shavings, and got up to 0.012” thick, which it handled quite well.

I noticed in other projects about this kit concerns about keeping the shave body thick enough to allow for the adjustment screw length, otherwise the blade can’t be retracted. I think these folks are confused about how the blade is adjusted. The design is for the adjustment screws ( the hollow ones in the wood, not the lockscrews on the blade posts) to be backed out some to allow the blade to be retracted. The adjustment screws are then turned into the handle to extend the blade to cut, and the lockscrews tightened to hold position.

A very enjoyable project resulting in a tool I will have for a long time. The project requires some fairly intricate work and is probably at an average level of difficulty. Just make several blanks and it won’t matter if you need to start again – it’s a hobby, right? I’d guess I put about 10 hrs total over about a week in the project, from cutting the blanks to the final wax buffing.

4 comments so far

View siavosh's profile


674 posts in 2726 days

#1 posted 01-31-2014 07:40 PM

Thanks for sharing, this is on my to-buy/do lists.

-- -- Discover the most interesting woodworking blogs from around the world

View Ripthorn's profile


1459 posts in 3840 days

#2 posted 01-31-2014 08:13 PM

I got the kit for Christmas, but being in the middle of relocation for the last month has made it so that no progress has been made, but will be shortly after I get my shop set up again. I have a hand tapping machine for my metal working projects, and plan to use that for tapping the blank. Perfect perpendicularism (perpendicularity?) without thinking about it.

-- Brian T. - Exact science is not an exact science

View fatandy2003's profile


262 posts in 3099 days

#3 posted 01-31-2014 10:14 PM

OSU55, good work. The walnut looks very nice. I received the large version of this kit for Christmas and put it together the weekend after. I love it and completely agree with your assessment of the kit. Enjoy making shavings!


-- -- Andy, “Those who expect to reap the blessings of liberty must undergo the fatigues of supporting it” - Thomas Paine

View BTKS's profile


1989 posts in 4319 days

#4 posted 02-08-2014 01:26 AM

Nice work! I really enjoy making my own tools and this looks like a fun project. I really like the walnut against the brass you used.

-- "Man's ingenuity has outrun his intelligence" (Joseph Wood Krutch)

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