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Re: [BKARTS] Spokeshave


Not finding a ready reference to cut and paste for you, I've written a short
blurb.  Simply what I believe would be the general consensus on the matter.
Perhaps it will be of some use.

Modification of a Spokeshave for Paring Leather

1. The Blade
The blade as provided by the manufacturer is setup for shaving wood with a
cutting angle ground to around 30 degrees.  This is too high of an angle for
paring leather efficiently.  The blade should be reground to approximately
10 degrees.  While the blade is at the grinding wheel, the corners of the
blade are also very slightly rounded to lessen the chance of them digging
into the leather.  Obviously the blade needs to be honed to razor sharpness.
When reinstalling the blade ensure it is oriented correctly; that is with
the bevel side down, the opposite in appearance of using a chisel or
traditional paring knife.

In addition to these basics, the blade may be replaced and upgraded.  For
example Ron Hock makes extraordinary spokeshave blades.  See his website at:

2. The Body
The mouth of the spokeshave, that space in front of the blade, should be
open enough to allow the leather parings to pass through with a minimum of
clogging.  This space can be increased by moderately filing the bottom of
the body edge of the mouth.  The ideal opening size varies with the paring
habits and leathers of the user.  The mouth should be only as open as
necessary for the parings to pass cleanly most of the time.  The body edge
of the mouth serves to hold down the leather directly in front of the blade
and if filed excessively the spokeshave will misbehave.

The sole of the spokeshave, the bottom that actually sits on the leather,
should be checked for flatness and if necessary flattened on a sharpening
stone or similar.

In general the "fit and finish" of the spokeshave should be checked for any
misalignments, burrs, or things that just don't seem proper.

3. Further Reading
The blade angle and corners along with possible mouth opening are specific
to leather paring.  All other modifications and adjustments are generic to
planes and spokeshaves in general.  More information on plane tuning is
commonly available on the Internet or in the wood working section of local


Ken Brownlow

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