Brass Wear Piate

arc two ways to go—recycle an old blade from an antique spokeshave or buy a new blade. I prefer an old traditional blade that has two square tangs that fit into the wooden body of the spokeshave. You can find these blades in antique shops and flea markets that sell old tools, or perhaps on an old spokeshave with a worn or damaged wooden body. (I wouldn't recommend sacrificing a good wooden-bodied shave just for the blade.)

The spokeshave you see here (in the procedure photos) has an old blade I found at a ilea market. The blade has two tapered, square tangs bent at right angles to the cutting edge. The tangs fit tightly into square holes in the wooden body of the shave—just as they do in the antique wooden shaves.

If hunting for an old blade doesn't appeal to you, you haw a couple of choices. A British tool company has begun to make reproductions of the old tanged blades ($19.00 from Bristol Design Tools, Ltd.. 14 Perry Rd., Bristol, BS1 5BG, England, Phone: 01144272-291740). Or, you can buy a new blade with adjustable threaded posts instead of tangs. This blade comes in a kit that includes two knurled brass nuts for the posts, two brass adjustment inserts and a set of instructions ($24.95 from Conover Woodcraft, Division of Byrom International, P.O. Box 246, Chardon, OH 44024, 800-722-5447).

I've written this article about how to make a spokeshave to accommodate one of the old tanged blades. If you want to use a new blade with a w threaded post, the procedure is es-

sentiallv the same—but vou'll need

to drill the holes larger for the brass adjustment inserts and you won't need to file them square. The instructions that come with the kit explain the process.

Choose a close-grained, split-resis-tant hardwood like hard maple, apple or pear for your wooden shave. Boxwood and beech arc the best choices but may be hard to get. I made one of mv shaves from a choice piece of curly persimmon given to me by a friend. Persimmon has a special quality for me that even the most exotic wood can't match.

Making the Body

First, select and square up a block of wood to match the size of the shave you want to make. The exact dimensions aren't critical. Most typical shaves are 12 in. to 15 in. long. I started with a Va-in. x 1 J/«-in. x 147j

Trace the contour of the handles on the spokeshave blank with a paper pattern.

Shape the tapered tang holes wtth a square needle fite.

Pit the tangs into the tang botes, then tract along the edge of the btode to mark the edge of the throat

Trace the contour of the handles on the spokeshave blank with a paper pattern.

Shape the tapered tang holes wtth a square needle fite.

Pit the tangs into the tang botes, then tract along the edge of the btode to mark the edge of the throat

in. blank to make the shave shown here. The shape is inspired bv the hundreds of shaves I've looked at over the years, but I lean toward giving mine a lighter and more delicate appearance. Shape the length and contour of the spokeshave handles to fit vour hands.

As a guide to the cuts you'll need to make on the bandsaw. cut out paper patterns of the curves on the handles. (See drawing.) As shown in the photo on page 18. trace these curves on the spokeshave blank—use one pattern for the top and bottom, and one pattern for the front and back. You'll cut out these handle curves in a later step.

Before this, you'll need to mount the blade and cut out the throat of

To mount the wear plate, I apply Hot Stuff cvanoacrvlate glue (available from Woodcraft Supply, 210 Wood County Industrial Park, P.O. Box 1686, Parkcrsburg. WV 26102, 800-225-1153) or epoxy glue, and clamp it in place. To add a finishing touch, I install three thin brass pins through the wear plate. (See drawing.) I cut the pins from '/i6-in. dia. brazing rod about xh in. long. I drill pilot holes through the wear plate into the wood, drive in the pins leaving them slightly proud of the plate, then carefully peen the ends of the the shave. Begin by laying out the tang holes. Lay the blade on the bench with its tangs up (or posts up if it's a blade with threaded posts) beside the wooden blank, centered along its length. Mark the location of the tangs across the top of the blank. Now draw a longitudinal centerline on the top of the blank, as shown in the drawing. Mark the centers for the tang holes where these lines cross.

Drill the tang holes undersize, and file them square and tapered to match the tangs. A square coarse needle file works great for this, as shown in the photo. The filing and fitting of the tang holes is the most critical step in the process. Take your time and work carefully. You want the tangs to seat in the holes with a tight press fit when the blade is fully inserted. Too loose, and the blade won't stay adjusted; too tight, and the tangs could split the wood.

To press the blade in, insert the tangs loosely in the tang holes, then grasp the blank in your hands and push down on the spokeshave with the blade Hat against the benchtop. To remove the blade, turn the blank upside down and press the tips of the tangs down against the bench.

Once vou fit the blade in the ar spokeshave blank, you're ready to saw and chisel out the throat and the tiny mortises for the narrow section of the blade near each tang, as shown in the exploded view of the drawing. To do this, insert the blade until it lies flat against the wooden blank. Trace around the edge of the blade to mark the edge of the throat and the tang mortises. (See photo, page 19.) Remove the blade, and with a small saw cut out the throat by making several saw kerfs along the angle of the throat, as shown in the photo. Chisel out the waste and clean up the throat's angled surface with a file. (See photo.) This open throat leaves space for the shavings to escape.

Now cut the small mortises for the tangs with a small backsaw and chisel. (See photo, page 19.) Pare away the bottom of these mortises and fit-the blade until the blade sits flush with the surface of the wooden body.

Making the Wear Plate

I use a piece of '/la-in. thick brass for the wear plate. You can sometimes find brass stock at hardware stores or hobby shops (also available from Small Parts, Inc., 6891 N.E. Third Ave., P.O. Box 381736, Miami. FL 33238, 305-751-0856). Cut a piece of brass to fit the space between the a dM.

cutting edge of the blade and the edge of the wooden body, as shown in the drawing.

To fit the wear plate, pare out a shallow recess for it on the bodv and smooth the recess with a file. Be careful not to cut too deep—the wear plate should be installed flush with the body and right up next to the blade edge. Test the fit of the wear plate by installing the wear plate and the blade and holding a straightedge over the two surfaces —they should be parallel to each other in the same plane, as the photo shows.

pins to sccure them. Clean up the wear plate's surface with a file.

Finishing the Spokeshave

Now it's time to cut out the handle shapes you drew earlier on the wooden blank. I like to use a bow saw to cut away the waste portions of the handles, though a handsaw is faster. Saw out the two waste pieces from the sides and two from the bottom. This provides finger clearance and a contour for the handles.

Next, I simply work the handles to a finished shape, beginning with a rasp and then a fine mill file. I draw a football-shaped profile on the ends of the handles to guide the shaping process, as shown in the photo. Mv handles are onlv about xh in. thick at their ends when I've finished shaping. I smooth all the contours of the wooden body with the file, followed by a cabinet scraper and sandpaper. When you're satisfied with the shape of the body, apply a finish if you like. Beeswax and the oil from my hands are all the finish I've needed to give a warm patina to the dense, close-grained woods 1 use. Try an oil finish or any finish of your choice. Personally. 1 think modern finishes like polyurethane seem out of place on a traditional tool.

Using the Spokeshaw

After all this work, vou're readv to make some shavings. First, you'll

need to fine-tune the tool. Do this by filing evenly across the top of the wear plate to open up the mouth of the shave bit by bit. Before you start filing, the mouth of the shave between the cutting edge of the blade and the wear plate should be nice and tight—the spokeshave might not cut at all, yet. That's alright because it means you can adjust the shave to make very fine shavings. Use a smooth file to evenlv trim off a little brass from the wear plate, then try the shave. Take your time, and remember, you can take more brass off later, but you can't put it back on. Trim the wear plate in tiny increments until you get a good shaving with the blade fully seated. (Of course, the blade must be sharp.)

Once I have the tool tuned up. I adjust the dcpth-of-cut by tapping the tangs lightly against my vise. This moves the blade out slightly to allow for thicker shavings. If I want a thinner shaving, I gently tap the blade back in. If you fit the tangs well, they'll still hold tightly in the square holes. (If you're working with a Conover blade with threaded posts, adjustments are made by turning the set screws in the brass adjustment inserts.)

There are no rules when it comes to pushing or pulling the shave. Grain direction and the way vou r v hold the work are the determining factors. If you want to hold the piece you're working on in a shaving horse, you should pull the shave toward you. (See AW, #14, page 39.) When I use a spokeshave. I hold the work in my bench vise so I'm well above it. I put my thumbs behind the tangs and push away from me. If the grain direction changes. I reverse the shave and pull. Holding the tool at a skew angle seems to make the best shavings—curly and perfect —leaving a smooth, polished surface. A

Andy Bornum is a professional turner it i New York state. He is a founder and president of the Nutmeg Ubod-turner's League. He makes and uses wooden spokeshaxvs out of a low for old tools. As he puts it, "For me, hand kxjIs symbolize empouvrtnent—the ability to make things—and / like that.'

I . vcn if you're not into herbs, you're sure to n . find a use for this dry-J^—^A ing rack. Designed by the editors of Rodale's Organic Gardening magazine, the drying arms lock in an up, out-of-the-way position when they're not needed. Lifting an arm releases it to swing down to the horizontal position for use. In the kitchen, the rack is useful for dish towels when it's not covered with drying herbs or flowers. In the bathroom, perhaps with shorter arms, you can use it for hand towels or

Arms Fold Down When the Hangest Coinés 'Round

FIG. 1: HERB DRYING RACK

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