Learning the Spokeshave

For some reason, I’ve been intimidated by the spokeshave in the past, and really haven’t used mine much.  I figured that since I’m not a chair maker (yet), I really did not have much use for one.

Over the past few days though, I’ve needed to true-up and smooth out the gentle curves that make up the bottoms of the drawer faces on my G&G desks.  I had been using sandpaper to do the final fitting of the faces to the drawer openings (after having cut the drawer faces by using pattern-routing on the router table), but sanding is slow going, messy, and not much fun.

I reached for my spokeshave, and took a few easy passes, and whammo!  The  drawer front was finished.  Smooth, gently curved and ready for use.   Spokeshaves are good for cabinetmaking too…if you have curves.

The spokeshave is remarkably easy to learn and use…much easier to learn than traditional planes.   No need to be intimidated like I was!   I see many more uses for this tool now that I have made my breakthrough.

The more woodworking that I do, the more that I appreciate hand tools.  As these desks have progressed (over the past year or more), I find myself reaching for hand tools more and more…and killing fewer electrons…and the work is coming out better!  Some times that old ways are the best (but nobody better touch my Dewalt thickness planer!!!)

About mattsanf

Matt Sanfilippo is the Chief Partnership Officer (CPO) for the College of Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) and Co-Director of its Engineering Research Accelerator. In this role, Matt coordinates and enables strategic and sponsored research opportunities across the college, and stewards the development of proposals for major research opportunities along strategic themes. Additionally, he enables collaboration among the college's research institute/center executive directors, and industrial and government relations personnel in the pursuit of opportunities with industry, federal and state governments. Before becoming CPO for the College, Matt was the Senior Executive Director for Research Initiatives, the Executive Director of CMU's SII (Smart Infrastructure Institute) and ICES (Institute for Complex Engineered Systems), and Associate Director of PITA (Pennsylvania Infrastructure Technology Alliance) and RAMP (Research for Advanced Manufacturing in Pennsylvania). Before CMU, Matt was Managing Director of Applied Technology for Michael Baker Corporation, an engineering and energy services firm. Matt managed Baker's technology division including Geographic Information System (GIS), software and web development, multimedia, virtual reality, visualization, Global Positioning System (GPS), mapping and surveying services. Before joining Baker, Matt was an Innovation Director for Redleaf Group, a Venture Capital/Operating Company focused on information security, supply chain and mobility solutions. While at Redleaf, Matt managed technical due diligence for seed-stage investments and coordinated relationships between Redleaf and their partner companies. Prior to Redleaf, Matt was CIO of GZA GeoEnvironmental Technologies, an infrastructure engineering firm, and operations manager for their Internet start-up that focused on web-technologies for health and safety and manufacturing metrics. Matt is on the board of Larson Design Group (LDG), past Chairman of the Board for the Pittsburgh Botanic Garden, current board member of the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation (PHLF), current Vice President of the Sewickley Heights Gun Club (SHGC) and former member of the Information Sciences and Technology Advisory Board for the Pennsylvania State University Beaver. Matt is also former Vice President of the Pittsburgh Chapter of the Association of Internet Professionals and former Vice President of the Board of Trustees for Baker Combined Charity of Pennsylvania.

Posted on July 19, 2007, in Tools and Shop, Woodworking. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Dear Learning to Spokeshave – I too am just learning to use the spokeshave. I’m working on a windsor seat, but am getting a lot of chatter and break out. Do you have any tips on getting smooth, curly cuts? I’m going both with and against the grain and having problems with both.

  2. Hi,
    I think that I am too new to this to offer any real help….
    My thoughts are though that the spokeshave needs to be fully tuned and SHARP!!! If it is anything less than razor sharp, I get chatter. I would suggest talking to the folks on the Oldtools email list (http://people.iarc.uaf.edu/~cswingle/archive/faq.html) instead of me. They are truly experts on hand-tool use.

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