Converting a flat bottomed spokeshave to round bottom.

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Established Member
24 Aug 2008
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Essex/ Suffolk border
Before I wreck a perfectly good but quite worn wooden spokeshave, has anyone done the experiment of converting from flat bottomed to round bottomed? I really can't see why it wouldn't work. The work should still present at the front edge of the blade at the same angle, it's just that the back edge of the spokeshave base would be out of the way. I accidentally won multiple spokeshaves on an Ebay auction last year, and now have a whole bunch which are pretty much all the same. A round bottomed one would be very handy, and converting one of the excess flat bottomed ones makes more sense than going out and buying another tool.
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I've never tried, but I can't see any reason why not either.

But which approach will you take?

Saw off a wedge which could be glued back if the conversion doesn't work?

Or gradually remove a little, test, remove a little more, test, repeat, stop?
Assuming the blade is narrow enough not to interfere I think it would be fine. I would have thought it might be easier to convert a metal spokeshave though since the blades are angled, unless your wooden ones are different from the type I have seen (only own 1 myself and 1 missing a blade).
I rounded the bottom of one once, went too far right off the bat and it didn't work very well. So if you decide to modify one file it a little at a time, use it a little and file some more until it works the way you want and then sand and polish it.

Well I've done it and it works. The bearing face just in front of the blade hasn't changed, but the front edge, which would otherwise get in the way on a tighter curve, now clears the work. Only thing is I picked a really lightweight spokeshave, and it chatters a bit in anything which offers a bit of resistance.
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@frank horton, MikeGs perfect tool kit is one that fits in a carrier bag and that's the one they use for loose veg. read his signature ;)
I did it once, long ago when I needed to fit inside a curved rocker base, so the resulting radius that it needed to cut was quite generous.

I decided to sacrifice an old metal Stanley that I'd bought new in the '60s, that never worked well (probably because my sharpening skills in those days weren't up to getting it right). The mouth is rather wide on this shave.

Anyway, I found out that the curved profile needs to be straight across, gradual in shape, but still enough meat left to support the blade so that it doesn't dig in...... and that was the problem.
After a fair bit of experimenting I got the shape right enough but then found out the 'Golden Rule of Monkeying-Around With Spoke-shaves'. That is to keep a flat registration area, about 1/8 inch or so wide surrounding the mouth. Begin the curves from these points onward.

Do I still use curved spokes now? As a last resort, I may once in a blue-moon, but my go-to implement now final shaping of for flat curves such as rocker sections is a Stanley 82 scraper with an aggressive burr on the blade. It is controllable..... fast...... cuts......gets into curves both inside and out.....

Sadly, they're very rare in the UK - not marketed here for some reason - but a brilliant bit of kit. I think that Veritas make something similar, but a little smaller.

But, to sum up, I found that a small, flat area around the mouth section is essential to support the blade tip in an approach that allows cutting to take place instead of the dreaded dig-in. Resist the temptation to curve the whole sole in one sweep.

Good luck
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