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Veritas Hardware Kit for Spokeshave Handles Review

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Alf

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Not so much a review this really, but a follow up to a throw away comment I made in another thread. Round handled spokeshaves and I don’t really get along, so an opportunity to try out this Handle Kit to create some custom handles for a Veritas shave was too good a chance to turn down. The kit itself is pretty basic; a couple of hanger bolts (or wood/metal dowels as they get called over here), a pair of brass washers, and a mandrel and bolt to install the hanger bolts with - and hold it on the lathe.



And right there is the challenge. Really this kit is a doddle to make as a simple turned handle, but making asymmetrical handles requires slightly more thought. The instructions, which can be seen here, helpfully suggest “Lathe work may be combined with other woodworking techniques, such as strip laminating and carving to create the desired shape, texture and appearance”, but the detail is left to the imagination of the handle maker… :roll: Heigh ho. About three feet of sycamore blank seemed to provide enough raw material for a practice or three, so I started to play. First up, the basics common to any handle made with this kit:



First task was to cut a couple of blanks and mark their centres in the usual way.


Don’t tell me; funny looking sycamore. It’s the camera… :wink: By some quirk these ended up at almost exactly 90° to each other, but it can vary considerably

Regardless of the finished shape you want, you need to start with a square blank as there’s no means of knowing what orientation it’ll end up at when you’ve screwed it onto the shave body.



Next I taped the necessary 3/16” diameter drill bit for 5/8” hole depth, which I find easier than fiddling with the depth stop on the drill press.



I squared off both ends to make drilling for the bolt a simple matter of standing the blank on end under the drill press, but the instructions suggest a couple of methods for holding it square (and more safely, if I’m honest :oops: )



Before insertion in the blank, the bolts need cleaning.



The hex bolt is tightened right down in the mandrel and the machine screw end of the hanger bolt is screwed in just finger tight, snug up against the base of the hex bolt. Two spanners are needed to tighten the hex bolt fully; I only have one 7/16” but found a 11mm did fine for the other.



Then it’s “just” a case of screwing in the hanger bolt into the blank. Practicing this bit turned out to be vital, especially if you intend to follow the advice and epoxy the bolts in. Luckily I didn’t, and I’m not really sure it’s needed, for what it‘s worth. Probably depends on the wood you’re using though. I managed to waste two blanks because I screwed the bolts in too deeply, and had no means of removing them without destroying the blank.


You can see the shadow where the washer won’t go quite flush with the wood

It’s a little tricky because the instructions suggest there should be 7/16” to ½” of machine screw thread protruding, but I found if I did that the thread brass washer doesn’t rest flush on the end of the blank. So of course you screw it further in, and before you know it you’ve gone too far.



I tried making a little flag of tape to act as a precise stop, but in the end I found threading the brass washer onto the bolt and then screwing it in until the washer was flush with the end of the blank was by far the easiest method.



I decided to try a simple turned cone to start with, and then adapt from there. Using the mandrel mounted in my drill chuck worked just fine. A drawbar to prevent the drill chuck working loose is essential. Instructions are given for mounting it in other chuck types too, as well as on a face plate.



Turning down the blank to create a smooth transition from the brass washer to the wood is easy enough, and I used that technique even on the otherwise unturned handles, but it could be done without a lathe if you took care.



The cone was surprisingly comfortable, but a little bulky for my hands, so I decided to have a go at shaping it a little.



Now this is where the difficulties for the non-round handle maker appear, and where we depart from the basics. You need to install the blank on the shave and then mark up where the sole is in relation to the blank. I tried a couple of methods. In this example I simply rested the sole of the shave on the bench, put a rule on edge on the bench, and against the end of the handle, and marked a line. By coincidence it went right through the centre, so I had to mark which way was “up” too. Also mark left and right handles too! DAMHIKT…



Then it’s a “simple” case of work with the spokeshave (with its stock handles) to shape it freehand. Really I’m more at home with definite guidelines to follow than just using artistic flair, but it wasn’t too bad. I found the lathe was the best means on holding it steady while I did this one.



On this cone-shaped handle I marked a couple of lines parallel to the reference line, and planed the top and bottom down to them to make a very basic flattened paddle shape.



120g and 220g on the drum sander cleaned them both up very nicely. And no, a drum sander isn’t very neanderthal, but it freed me up from worrying about finish and allowed me to concentrate on the artistic shaping stuff :wink:

But neither of these handles really grabbed me much; they come out straight from the sides of the shave, rather than the “gull-wing” design I’m more used to, so another approach was needed. Besides I wanted see what could be done without using a lathe - by and large. Thanks to Rob and BriMarc, I was provided with more than one kit to muck up, which helped. :D I decided to use the shape of handle from the Wooden Spokeshave Kit and see if that was better. Again, there’s no means of knowing in which orientation the blank would end up once it’s screwed onto the body of the shave, so despite only needing an oblong of wood I had to start with a square blank again, and reference off the sole of the shave in order to cut it down to the required shape.



A rule laid along the sole with its end pushed up against the end of the blank worked pretty well, as a variation on the other method.



A parallel line was struck with a bevel to give the required finished size and then I set up the bandsaw at the necessary angle - which varies for each blank of course - and cut the reference face.


One side done, the other yet to do

Then a simple move of the bandsaw fence, cut the other face parallel and you have an oblong blank. You could just as well plane them down, but the bandsaw was quicker. From then on it’s very much the same as making the wooden spokeshave; As they were available I even used the same templates to give me an idea of shape.



The waste was bandsawn away, the bulk of the shaping done with rasp and file, and then everything cleaned up with the drum sander (see the link above for details). The handles were a little small to hold on their own safely, so I screwed them back onto the body. The tape helped a lot in trying to protect the shave body and brass washers from the abrasive, and I recommend it, but even so I managed to, er, shape the washer a tad... :oops:



The finished handles worked out only slightly bigger than the stock ones, but the extra width felt much better. Definitely the design I liked best, but maybe a bit longer would be an improvement…

I decided a rather more exciting timber was called for to make the finished article, but suitable square blanks of exotics are a little thin on the ground chez Alf. However that mention of laminating in the instructions suggested a possibility...



There’d be no means of knowing how it’d turn out, but then there never is as soon as you shape something laminated, so it’d certainly make it interesting. I had a piece of nutmeg that I’d been itching to try for ages, a resinous brown tropical with a spicy scent that I can’t identify (could be Wenge? Bocote? Answers on a postcard, if you know), and maple for the central lamination to take the bolt threads. Because of the oiliness of the nutmeg and unidentified stuff, I used epoxy for the laminating.


Left to right: Reference line marked from the sole, blanks sawn to size and required orientation to the sole, transition from wood to brass turned on the lathe, rough shape bandsawn out, close up of bandsawn shape

Other than the blank being slightly longer, and the workshop smelling like a spice market by the time I‘d finished :D , I followed what I’d done with the sycamore practice handles.



A few wiped on coats of blonde shellac, and the result is certainly striking! I rather like them; they're much more comfortable than the stock handles and it’ll certainly make that shave the easiest one to find under the shavings… :wink:

So, the verdict? Bloomin’ good fun, actually. Making a simple turned handle is easy peasy with this kit; making something a little more ergonomically friendly requires a tiny bit more effort and some thinking ahead to make sure you have your handles orientated the right way, but nothing too desperately difficult. A practice run in a friendly and easily-worked wood is essential, and a drum sander makes life a lot easier if you want a really slick finished look. You end up with a unique, customised tool, and there’s nothing like that to give you an extra buzz when you come to use it. :wink:

Spokeshave Handle Kit £4.88 from BriMarc

Big thanks to Rob and Lee Valley for dropping this on my doorstep earlier than expected… :roll: :wink: and to Martin and BriMarc for rushing me extra supplies in double quick time.

NB: In the interests of full disclosure, I should say that in this case Lee Valley have very kindly said I can keep the spokeshave and handle kit, and BriMarc kindly allowed the "spare" kit to go as a prize on the forum, for which many thanks to them both. I have made every effort to not let this affect my review, and I hope this is self-evident, but you, the reader, will always be the final judge.
 

wizer

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wait while I pickup my jaw from the ground :shock: :shock:

Looks amazing alf!
 

Adam

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Very Snazzy and functional.

Adam :D
 
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Thanks Alf, up to the usual (professional) standard :wink:

Just got a spokeshave last week and off work for the next two weeks, maybe I should contact Brimarc and............
 

Chris Knight

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Alf,

What a thoughtful and interesting article! It is a shame(?) that the final handles did not end up aligned in the same direction but as you make clear it is hard to get the hanger bolts exactly where you need them.

I wonder if the back of the brass washer were relieved somewhat in the centre, if this would be easier? It would still lie flush at the perimeter and perform its job but it would allow some flexibility in the exact depth to which the hanger bolt is screwed.

PS I do think your brown wood could be Bocote - see here http://www.hobbithouseinc.com/personal/ ... bocote.htm
 

Philly

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Alf
Great stuff! Glad to see you spending quality time in the workshop (when not working on ultra-fine shavings.... :lol: )
Keep up the good work, Ultra-Mod
Cheers
Philly :D
 

Gill

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Well done, Alf :) . Another great review and another great piece of woodwork.

Gill
 

DaveL

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Yes well done Alf, nice handles. :D

Makes me want to buy the shave so I can have a go at the custom handles. :shock:

I think I will start a wish list, just not sure where to pin it up. :?
 

Alf

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Ta muchly, peeps. 'twas good fun to do, so no real hardship :D

waterhead37":2xjtb2j0 said:
It is a shame(?) that the final handles did not end up aligned in the same direction but as you make clear it is hard to get the hanger bolts exactly where you need them.
I did wonder about trying to line them up by starting with a plain square blank as before, cutting it down to form the central lamination once I had the orientation right and then laminating. That would appear to be the only way you could get them to match. But to be honest it made it more interesting just seeing how it turned out; and after half a dozen previous handles, a bit of novelty was appealing... :wink:


waterhead37":2xjtb2j0 said:
PS I do think your brown wood could be Bocote - see here http://www.hobbithouseinc.com/personal/ ... bocote.htm
Mmm, it did seem to be the likeliest. Trouble is I don't ever remember buying Bocote... :oops: Of course it could be my habit of buying mixed packs of unmarked blanks coming back to haunt me. :roll:

DaveL":2xjtb2j0 said:
Makes me want to buy the shave so I can have a go at the custom handles. :shock:
Mwahahahahahhahahaaaaaaaaaa :twisted:

Cheers, Alf
 

bugbear

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Again, there’s no means of knowing in which orientation the blank would end up once it’s screwed onto the body of the shave
But you could control it, by using a washer; careful reduction in thickness of the washer (e.g. on a SS surface) would allow control of angle.

BugBear
 

Alf

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bugbear":39vv97gu said:
Again, there’s no means of knowing in which orientation the blank would end up once it’s screwed onto the body of the shave
But you could control it, by using a washer; careful reduction in thickness of the washer (e.g. on a SS surface) would allow control of angle.
Well you can also screw the bolt in a bit more too, come to that. However, the amount of difference you get from a small removal/addition of washer thickness/bolt length is, to be honest, not that much help. I did briefly consider playing about with that some more, but I'd sooner adjust wood than metal when all's said and done. I know we tend to differ in that. :wink:

Cheers, Alf
 
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