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Veritas Wooden Spokeshave Kit Review - immensely long!

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Alf

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Another review, or how it never pays to say to oneself “Self, why not do a quick review of your Veritas low angle spokeshave, just to complete the canon?”. It merely resulted in El Presidente saying “We'll have to get you off a "make your own" LA spokeshave kit next week”. I thought he was kidding, so didn’t mention that making a spokeshave included some of my all time least favourite woodworking activities (i.e. the ones I‘m even worse at than all the others and avoid like the plague), plus I was just plain scared of even attempting it. I’d forgotten Rob doesn’t make idle threats. Three days before Christmas my hitherto unplanned first project of 2005 arrived via the UPS man and I had no visible means of escape. :shock: I completed it in dribs and drabs of time spread over a fortnight, taking my time and the odd “eeek, I don’t want to go on” break, and here’s how it went. If you want to singa-longa-Alf, class, please take out your textbooks and turn to “Instr“. :D All thumbnails can be clicked on to open a larger version in another window; I figured that was the best way with over sixty pictures… :shock: Are you sitting comfortably? Let us begin:

Here’s the kit all laid out, along with the two blanks I prepared. Two, because I didn’t doubt my ability to screw up at least one of them. I chose apple wood for a variety of reasons; it’s a traditional timber used in tools, it’s air dried which is nicer to use with hand tools, this particular piece came from a source here in Cornwall that ceased to trade last year and I thought it’d be nice to have a memento preserved in a (hopefully) working tool, and most importantly, there was enough for a spare blank… :wink:



I followed the instructions to the letter (one of those things I'm no good at) and squared a line right round the middle of the length of the blank and then drew round the templates provided on the top and bottom. I made a copy of the template and glued it to some card; the former in case I mucked up the original, and the latter ‘cos I had a feeling I might be doing this step more than once… Also as instructed, I carefully marked the top, bottom, front and back.



The next step was to mark the location of the blade holes. Rather than measure the given 1 13/16” from each side of the centre line, the instructions called for using the blade itself to mark the second. So first up I had to screw in the posts; a 6mm spanner fitted just right. The blue tape is a visual reminder to avoid the sharp edge of the blade. :shock:



Then one post is located in the marked hole, and the other post tapped to mark the second one. I’d expect that to be necessary for a hand forged blade where the width is likely to differ from blade to blade, but I was interested to find it recommended for a machined product like this. It worked, so no worries, and there‘s a lot to be said for marking from the workpiece rather than using measurements. And of course I managed to mark the top first time round, but it needs to be on the bottom as that’s the side you drill from. D’oh.



Now the vital bit; boring the holes for the adjustment thumb wheels. Number two in my least favourite woodworking tasks; accurate drilling. The instructions called for the blank to be firmly clamped, not moved between changing drill bits and so forth. I ignored them. I trashed the first blank. :oops: I stopped ignoring the instructions and made a simple clamping jig :shock: from a piece of ply, a scrap fence and a couple of toggle clamps. It all worked perfectly. Firstly a 3/8” forstner bit set to bore a hole just a fraction deeper than the blade is thick. Eventually that’ll form the ends of the blade recess.



Then, without moving the blank, I switched to a brad point bit to make the hole all the way through the body for the thumb wheels. The instructions called for a 5/16”, which I don’t have in a brad point, so a test or two was called for and I found an 8mm brad point did the job fine. The 5/16” size in a jobber bit was a disaster, and contributed to ruining the first blank :evil:



And it should look like this. If it doesn’t and the blade posts won’t fit in properly you’re stuffed. No option but to get another blank, just like I had to. :cry:



Then the blank needs to be flipped over and the exit holes on the top lightly chamfered with a countersink to allow easy exit for the tap later. The instructions call for an 82° countersink but, after checking first, a 90° is fine, which seems to be the type generally available over here. Subsequently I fell over 82° countersinks in quick chuck systems designed for cordless drills, but only the day after I’d finished with the countersink on this shave. :roll: It’s not vital for this step anyway, but later it might have made a difference. Maybe.



Now number three in my least wanted; tapping threads. The correct tap is provided in the kit of course, which is great, but you’ll need to provide your own means of turning it. I have a tap wrench, but you could use a brace, chuck it in the drill press or whatever. You thread the holes from the bottom up, which gives you a fighting chance of having decent, straight threads near the top where they have to do the most work. If you’re out of practice, do yourself a favour and practice on some scrap from the wood you’re using first. You do not want to mess it up.



The instructions suggest removing the tap handle frequently to test for square, and I found that pretty helpful. I don’t know if it’s standard tapping practice and no-one’s ever told me, but I took the tap right through the blank and let it drop out at the other side, rather than backing it out, and it seemed to give a better result. Like I say, maybe everyone knows that, but in case there’s someone out there like me who didn’t, fwiw.



Et voilà! The slipper fits, Cinderella. Starting to look a bit purposeful now.



So now the recess for the blade needs to be marked. A marking knife along all the straight sides, apart from the sharp edge, quickly took care of that. The curved ends are already dealt with by the 3/8” forstner holes.



Then, with the metalwork removed, the lines marked along the sides of the blade are extended to the back edge of the blank and on across the back “face”. These mark the sides of the “ware” where the shavings pass between the blade and the body of the plane.



With a marking gauge the top and front edges of the ware are marked at the required distances.



Before the ware is cut, the front edge of the shave’s sole has to be bevelled to allow the shave to be tipped forward slightly to engage the cutting edge of the blade. According to the instructions I should have ended up with a 2° angle, but I think it turned out a bit more than that, despite my new-found love of doing exactly what I’m told.



Now the ware has to be cut, using a series of parallel saw cuts first. A dozuki was recommended, so that’s what I used, having first put tape along the previously marked front and back edges of the ware to give me a more obvious visual stop so I didn’t cut too far. Even so I was sufficiently out of practice with the Japanese saw to almost overshoot on one cut. :shock:



Next the waste was removed with a chisel. Holding the blank at the right angle in the vice was a major pain, and it periodically popped out. If I was doing another of these I think it might be worth trying keeping the blank over long and using the waste area thus created to screw it to an appropriately angled block in order to hold it more firmly. Might be fun to try it with the Woodrat too…



Lastly I cleaned it up with files and abrasives.



The next task was cutting a recess to take the blade. It has to be slightly deeper than the thickness of the blade so the blade can be fully retracted when not in use; 1/32” extra it says, so that’s what I did.



A ¼” paring chisel made short work of cutting the recess, although a #271 router might have been easier still.



And here it is, spot on.



Looking very serious now, and I’m tempted to have a go… But no brass sole yet, so I mustn’t.



Now this is a kit for a brass-soled, or plated shave, so a recess for the brass is the next to be cut. Firstly extending the lines from the sides of the ware over the angled front area of the sole, and then marking the front face 1/16” up from the sole.



Then the waste was removed with a #71 router and the V blade, taking care to apply pressure over the angled area of the sole to ensure the recess ended up at the same depth and angle all the way across.



Resulting in this. You can see where the sole’s been rubbed by the sole of the router plane.



The ends then have to be bevelled to make the recess into a very wide, very shallow, dovetail shape. I used an block cut at the specified 10° angle clamped to the blank to guide the chisel; the block is used again for making the corresponding angle on the brass strip.



Enough length of brass is provided to make two soles, ostensibly so you can re-sole the shave when the blade becomes worn and opens the mouth, but I definitely looked on it as a back-up… The piece needs to be at least 2 7/8” long, so I taped to that mark and cut slightly into the tape to allow a safety margin.



One edge then has to be bevelled at 45° to line up with the angle of the ware, so it was jig time again. The 45° edge to guide the file, and a rebate to hold the brass strip



Some strong double-sided tape to hold the brass firm without a clamp in the way, and then some steady work with a file.



Then check two or three hundred times that everything’s going to end up angled the right way, and use the earlier 10° block to guide the file in filing the ends to match the recess in the shave. That went a lot easier than I expected, by following the instructions carefully and testing the fit frequently, so I didn’t need the back-up. Yay! :D



Final adjustment of the placement of the brass sole is made with the blade firmly in place and flush with the bottom of the shave. The space between the brass and the blade is supposed to be the thickness of a business card, so I adjusted it against one that should be guaranteed to provide the correct opening… :wink:



It was about this time that I started to worry about the step I had between the edge of the brass sole and the ware, and wondered if I was going to get a choking shave. I looked at the only commercially plated shave I have and it had a step too, so I decided to leave it and see, even though the only relevant drawing in the instructions seem to show no step. It turned out I was right to worry as it choked like crazy until I removed virtually all the step. Maybe it’s me or something I did wrong, I don’t know, but I would have welcomed a little more guidance on it in the instructions. Yeah, I could have asked Lee Valley, but I try to do these reviews from the POV of the ordinary woodworker at the bench who doesn’t like to bother people! :wink:



I’ve lost count of how many things on my list of pet hates I’ve had to do so far, but drilling through metal is another one of them. But I had my jig, and by now an upgrade in my drill press clamping arrangements too :roll: , so I bravely bored and countersunk for the two screws.



The countersinking depth was altogether too hit and miss for my tastes, but it did the job. I was torn between leaving them shallow enough so the slot would entirely vanish away like toolmakers or yore used to do, or deep enough so the sole could be removed fairly easily at a later date. Because of the slope on the sole I managed neither one nor the other, as you‘ll see. D’oh. :roll: The candle is to wax the screws in a bid to avoid the dreaded broken screw situation. Needless to say I didn’t have a steel screw of the same size to “pre-thread” the holes with so I went very carefully. :roll:



The protruding heads of the screws then get abraded flush with the sole on 120g laid on a flat surface



And now you can see the result of the slope. Rats. Distinctive though, and that‘ll be the story I‘ll stick to… I think a 82° countersink might have resulted in a better fit round the perimeter of the screw head too.



But who cares anyway?! Time for the first test cut. Whoohoo! It’s a million to one chance, but it might just work! :Shock:



Really starting to look the real deal now, so I don’t want to mess up the shaping stage. Have I mentioned there are one or two woodworking related skills involved in this kit that I’m not awfully good at? Yep, that’s another one; so falling back on accumulated knowledge from elsewhere is called for. The first dodge is to make cutting internal curves easy peasy by boring them out with the appropriately sized forstner bit; ¾” in this case.



That also gave me somewhere for the bandsaw blade to go as I cut away the rest of the waste, and as tight curves were no longer an issue, I could use my usual ½” blade. Cut round the front profile first; if you do the top profile as the initial cut you’ll lose your lines on the front… (and yep, that was jolly nearly a DAMHIKT) Taping the waste back on supports the blank where otherwise it’d be left unsupported by the wood removed with the first cut.



And it should look something like that.



As a guide to shaping the contour of the handles, an “eye” shape is drawn on each end. Not very well in this case… :oops:



The instructions also stress it’s important not to remove too much material on the top of the shave as that’d play havoc with the thumb screws and depth adjustment, so I drew round them to give me a guide as to which areas not to touch except in the final cleaning up stages. The diagram here shows how the depth adjustment works much better than I can describe it, btw.



The rear corners of the ware were chamfered as suggested, to “avoid them getting worn”. Well if they’re not there, I s’pose that will, indeed, save them from wear… :?



But on to the fancy shaping stuff. My kit for this kind of thing is based on a suggested selection made on the old Badger pond forum and consists of a cabinetmaker’s rasp and half round files in 8” turnip and 6” second and smooth cuts. As it turned out I didn’t need the scraper and I couldn’t really justify the Auriou rasp I‘d briefly considered… :(



Using the rasp, I worked the rough contours to my pencil lines.



Then followed up with the files, using them like consecutive grits of abrasives. Just like abrasives it really doesn’t pay to skip a “grit”. Also keep a file card handy to keep the teeth cutting cleanly and unclogged. You can see the old shave I used to guide me as to where, and what, to shape which helped quite a bit.



Then I came over all non-neander and chucked up my 50mm Carroll drum sander in the drill press with some 220g. And what a superb job it did. They really are the Festool of drum sanders.



Unfortunately I don’t have one of the mini ones, so when it came to cleaning up the internal curves I had to get creative. Luckily BugBear had recently reminded me of a technique where you saw a slot in a metal rod, slip the end of the abrasive in it and then wind it round, chuck it in a drill and Robert‘s my father‘s brother. I turned up a quick version in pine dowel on the lathe, using a dowel screw for the shank and a tenon saw to make the slot. No cloth-backed abrasives available, so a run of duct tape along the back to reinforce some HCAB, cut a strip, end into saw slot, turn it round the dowel, in the drill press, turn on, watch the paper unwind all at once…D’oh! Put the paper in the other way and try again, and success! It’s not a Carroll, but it did okay, and you can‘t beat the price. :D



A certain amount of hand sanding to clean up and a wipe with a tack cloth later, and the first coat of blonde, de-waxed shellac is applied.



Quite a bit of time and shellac coats later, and a little wax and a dome drill brush to finish off. I’ve found the Chestnut wax dries so hard, so quickly, I’ve had to resort to powered means to buff it out. :shock: The albino hedgehog is great, but I’d have never bought it at full price. Having tried it, once it’s become bald, I’ll not hesitate to replace it. (Lucky for you blokes that’s not so easy in life generally eh? :wink: )



Time to put a wicked edge on the blade before final assembly. Being able to remove the posts make sharpening a whole lot easier than on an old tanged blade. The A2 steel blade comes with 20° primary bevel and 25° micro bevel and was quick to prepare, although as the actual cutting edge is 2 ¾” long skewing was needed to get it all on the stone. The syringe is for applying the oil to the stone, before you ask about my neatsfoot oil habit…



At last, the moment of truth.



Well I dunno. What d’you think? :D




So a review? Not really, more of a how-to, but hopefully enough information to show whether it’s the kit for you. As we’ve come to expect from LV, all the components are good quality, everything does what it ought to and the instructions are excellent. A drill press is essential and you'll have to be able to cope with the imperial measurements, which could cause trouble for the more metricated. Considering I approached this kit with considerable trepidation, not to say dismay, I’m really pleased the way it’s turned out. As far as using the tool goes, the adjustments are very easy to use and the resultant finish is excellent. Does a wooden shave need such fancy adjustments? Probably not, but it isn’t too painful to use so I’ll forgive it. Ergonomics are up to you, but I’m generally happy. :wink: Time will tell if the knobs get in the way of my usual grip though... Tool making can be pretty addictive, and I can see myself easily being tempted to make another; maybe something with a round sole using bone instead of the brass… I wouldn’t class it as a relaxing experience, but that may have more to do with stopping to take pictures and knowing I’d have to show the results. :shock: :wink: I’d quite like to see a smaller blade available too; this one’s pretty wide and makes for a fairly beefy shave, and yet it’s the smaller wooden spokeshaves that are so hard to find these days. All in all I enjoyed making it an awful lot more than I expected too, and learnt to love a few woodworking skills I couldn’t stand before. All in all a pretty good way to get on the tool making Slippery Slope. :D




Veritas Wooden Spokeshave Kit £24.80

Thanks to Rob Lee and Lee Valley for providing the kit.

Available from BriMarc

Edit - the round-soled remix can be found here.

NB: In the interests of full disclosure, I should say that in this case Lee Valley provided this kit, while the subsequent round-soled shave was made from a kit I purchased. As always, 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.
 

Neil

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I haven't read it yet, Alf, but just to let you know - it downloaded fine, even on dial-up :roll:

Neil

<edit> I've read it now - brilliant write-up, Alf - must have taken hours! The shave looks very tasty, too - are you taking orders? :lol:
 

Adam

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Very good ALF - I'm extremely impressed. It's nice that you documented the mistakes and the learning process. That's the most interesting bit for me, how different people solve the challenges they come across.

A proper job. (to use an ALFish phrase!) :wink:

Adam
 

Chris Knight

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Alf,

Fabulous job! On broadband it downloaded quickly and completely.

If you don't already earn a good deal from writing, you are missing a trick I reckon. A beautifully crafted (written and woodworkingwise) , witty, succint and very clear explanation of what looks to be a lovely kit.
 

cambournepete

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That looks interesting - downloaded fine on our super-quick work connection :wink: . have printed it out for perusal at leisure.

Which took longer Alf - making the spokeshave or writing it up for our benefit?

A big thanks for your time (yet again) :D
 

Alf

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Neil":2hbbico3 said:
are you taking orders?
Gosh no, you'd miss out on the satisfaction of making your own. That's the fun.

Adam":2hbbico3 said:
It's nice that you documented the mistakes and the learning process.
One day I'd like to make something where there aren't any to be documented... :roll:

Rob Lee":2hbbico3 said:
Want a job as a writer?
Do I have to move to Canada and like ice hockey? :? :wink:

Phew. Well that's a relief I must say. Everything seems to load okay, and I don't seem to have committed any faux pas. 'Scuse me while I go and collapse in a heap for a moment. Then I've got a couple of hammers that need some more progress made on them. Told you this tool making thing was addictive... :oops:

Cheers, Alf
 

Rob Lee

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Alf":2zeky7q5 said:
(snip)

Do I have to move to Canada and like ice hockey? :? :wink:

(snip)
..well - if you DAGS, you'll find there WAS a UK team called the "Lee Valley Knights"....
:lol:

Cheers -

Rob
 

dedee

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Brilliant Alf thanks. Downloaded just fine got through all the proxys and firewalls without a problem.

I especially liked the way you got the screw slots to be parallel.


Andy
 

Alf

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Rob Lee":1sd49afd said:
..well - if you DAGS, you'll find there WAS a UK team called the "Lee Valley Knights"....
:lol:
Lee Valley Whalers... (do you do A2 steel harpoons yet, btw?) The Knights seem to be a, or have been, a cycle speedway team. Nice outfits... Sorry, I nit pick; can't help myself. :oops:

dedee":1sd49afd said:
I especially liked the way you got the screw slots to be parallel
:wink:

Cheers, Alf
 

bugbear

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nice drivebys on the LN chisels, the new LV marking gauge and double-square!

You mean you don't OWN a #271?!?

No wonder you haven't made a proper sharpening jig yet...

BugBear (who thought he originiated the rod-with-a-slot sanding drum trick)
 
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brilliant Alf. Absolutely brilliant - I am truly jealous of your talent for reviews (you'll see why soon when I write and post the triton one :roll: )

Take Rob up on the offer :D
 

Alf

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bugbear":25noz39i said:
nice drivebys on the LN chisels, the new LV marking gauge and double-square!
Axminster double square; review in "Tool reviews", if you're willing to venture out into the darkness. Thanks for noticing. :wink:

bugbear":25noz39i said:
You mean you don't OWN a #271?!?
Wash your mouth out! Of course I do, but I was following the instructions, wasn't I, and no such suggestion was made. I imagine that could be changed in the fullness of time, when router planes start appearing in black, brass and bubinga...

bugbear":25noz39i said:
No wonder you haven't made a proper sharpening jig yet...
Couldn't I just send you my router cutters to sharpen? No amount of jigs will get them as sharp from my inept hands <grovel, grovel, fawn, fawn> :wink:

bugbear":25noz39i said:
BugBear (who thought he originiated the rod-with-a-slot sanding drum trick)
So did I, until I found it amongst the ancient hints and tips section of the Best of FWW CD and suddenly had a feeling I'd seen it somewhere else before as well. But you can have UK credit for it if you like; it certainly saved me a headache or two so your name was loudly blessed chez Alf.

I dunno, you get a name check in a review and not even a grudging "not bad" in return? Jeez, you don't half remind me of my old chemistry teacher... :p

Tony":25noz39i said:
Take Rob up on the offer :D
I'm still researching the Canadian position regarding cricket. Could be a deal breaker :? :wink:

Cheers, Alf
 

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Alf,

thanks for taking so much time for the benefit of the rest of us.

Can't beat a step-by-step tutorial, particularly when it's as well-written and usefully illustrated as yours.

In a word? "Great".

Jeremy
 

Rob Lee

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Alf":3c5gia3l said:
(snip)

Tony":3c5gia3l said:
Take Rob up on the offer :D
I'm still researching the Canadian position regarding cricket. Could be a deal breaker :? :wink:

Cheers, Alf
Geez - you can write there....and send it here.....!

Or as they'd say in Newfoundland... "Stay where you're to."...

Cheers -

Rob

(PS - it was the "Lee Valley Lions" of the BHL....1987-88, so we were both wrong....)
 

Shady

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Very nice Alf: I know what you mean about the trepidation factor when it's gonna be 'offered up' for all to snipe. That's why my HNT Gordon Block Plane kit is not yet visible here - gimme a week or two, however, and it will be.

Looks like a very nice finish - how many coats of shellac, and did you oil it at all first?
 

Alf

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Rob Lee":1l5w08k1 said:
Or as they'd say in Newfoundland... "Stay where you're to."...
They do? And people understand them? :wink:

Rob Lee":1l5w08k1 said:
(PS - it was the "Lee Valley Lions" of the BHL....1987-88, so we were both wrong....)
D'oh.

Shady, I lost count on the shellac but at least four or five I think. No oil at all; didn't want the yellowing. Looking forward to seeing what the Gordon kit actually consists of; you're guaranteed at least one sympathetic reader at any rate. :D

Okay, enough with the nice words, folks, I have hats I have to fit into. :p But your appreciation is appreciated; if it ain't no use to youse guys, it's just an ego trip, and that's no use to anyone.

Cheers, Alf
 
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Alf, that was superb! You are truly a very talented writer.
I really liked your choice of apple for the stock and I appreciated your idea of a round soled shave with bone insert. In fact, I have some Osage Orange drying and gathered some pieces of bone just for making a shave later on.
As you use it more, please let us know your impression of the depth adjustment knobs vs. the old fashioned tanged blades. This is something I've wondered about.
Again, my applause for an outstanding job!

PS: Hey Rob, nice avatar! Are they shipping yet?
 

bugbear

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Axminster double square; review in "Tool reviews"
I just paged through all the items under the "Reviews" box and found nowt.

"Tool Box" doesn't seem right either.

Should I be looking somewhere else?

BugBear
 
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