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A group of Spoke Shaves

Posted by is9582 on April 20, 2014 with 2 Commentsas , , , , , , , , ,

During the build of my Les Paul styled guitar, there were a few different areas on the guitar that I ran into that didn’t fit the tools I owned, making them tougher to work with a cutting type of tool. Some of the curves had a radius smaller than the spoke shaves I had in my kit, so I had to fall back to using rasps and sandpaper to handle them.


I was again thinking about making another guitar, so the other day I ordered a set of three small spoke shaves. One has a flat sole, one has a small round from front to back, and the last has a small curve outward from left to right (as opposed to the inward curve for working legs or round rods).


When I saw the set online, I assumed the one with the curve from front to back would likely be too gradual in it’s present form, and planned to modify to suit my needs. The other two shaves were basically just icing on the cake, and I’ll likely tweak them at least a bit, too.


I received the spokeshaves while I was “lounging” in the hospital, so I had something to take my mind off of my lower back. As this set was fairly inexpensive, I didn’t expect there was any way I’d receive shaves that were super high end, and some aspects were more “finished” than others. Just so everyone knows, I am sharing details and have no intent on ragging on these tools. If they had been a lot more expensive, my intent may have been different. Ok, so two of the shave bodies were nicely finished in all aspects, but one (the one that had the sole that is radius from front to back) had  a much rougher and less consistent grind on it’s sole.

Compare the sole of the two shaves, and you'll see the front right is much rougher.

Compare the sole of the two shaves, and you’ll see the front right is much rougher.

As a comparison, the rough one looked as if the sole last touched some fairly rough sandpaper and the other two nicely finished and smooth to the touch. Luckily, since I’d planned to modify the curvature on the bottom of the “rough” shave, it is no big deal and I’ve already made some beginning adjustments with my Bastard file that eradicated the rough surface (even though this file doesn’t leave the smoothest surface) while doing the initial shaping.

I've already shaped the sole of the right shave, with my Bastard file.

I’ve already shaped the sole of the right shave, with my Bastard file.

I’ll come back with a range of sandpaper grits up through around 600 to remove the scratches left by the file, and leave a very smooth sole.


The irons on each of these shaves will require a fair amount of work on a range of stones to prep and then bring up to a razor sharp edge. Again, the inexpensive nature of these shaves should indicate elbow grease is likely needed, to obtain a fully honed iron. The surface of the backs on the irons was not dissimilar to that on the one rough sole I discussed earlier, and it could be the same level of grit that was used on both.

Two of the irons, showing their backs and the coarse lines when received.

Two of the irons, showing their backs and the coarse lines when received.

Plan on spending some time at your most coarse stone, or quite a bit less time like I did on, by using my DiaFlat sharpening plate which is flat to .0005″ (which means it is crazy flat)! In the photo below you can (hopefully) see the scratched portion of the iron’s back, which is the only area that was touching the DiaFlat plate at the time I took this photo. The dark looking area at the cutting edge and the outside edges, is lower than the area with the scratches.

This scratch pattern shows distinct high and low areas on the iron back.

This scratch pattern shows distinct high and low areas on the iron back.

You need to continue to work the back until you have a consistent scratch pattern over all the area you have over the stone/plate. What I mean by this is, if you only have 3/4″ from the cutting edge back, over the stone (with the rest of the iron positioned so it is off the stone), then only the front 3/4″ needs to have the scratches. Just make sure you don’t leave any area, at the cutting edge, with less scratches or no scratches. **IMPORTANT (If you do, you’ll spend more time at the subsequent stages, as the less coarse stages remove metal slower). After you have a consistent scratch pattern, its time to move up through the sequence of stones (or sandpaper) you ultimately intend to use to hone your iron’s back.


The bevels were created using a coarse grinding wheel, which isn’t unusual, but on my set, a couple had huge burrs on the tip of the bevels. The extra large burr might make it a bit tougher to set the angle of the iron in a honing guide. This is because it can cause it to look like it is at too high an angle, since it would hit only at the very tip, even though the guide might be set exactly spot on. If you have a grinder, you could lightly remove the large burr, and then move back over to the stones/plates. Take both sides of the irons up to 8000 (if you don’t have a stone that high, just up through your finest stone).


As my back is still early in the healing process after surgery, I couldn’t handle standing and working on these spoke shaves for too long, but will post additional related information over the next few weeks.


Please let me know if you have any questions or comments. I hope you’ve enjoyed this article.


Lee Laird

“Back” and at it, sort of

Posted by is9582 on April 15, 2014 with 6 Commentsas , , , , ,

I wanted to post a quick note relative to my back surgery on the 7th. Everything went well, and I’m doing much better than after my similar surgery in 2012!  Even though the initial surgical pain is still hanging around, since I’m not using a walker or cane, it truly feels similar to where I was about a year after the last surgery!! So glad I didn’t have the same response as last time!

I apologize for not having posted anything since my surgery, but between the meds and trying to let my body do the recovery thing, as might be expected, the blog was low on my to-do list. I’m hoping that as I start to feel more like my old self, that I’ll again start flowing with ideas and articles. Feel free to drop a comment if you have any suggestions or just want to say hi.


Lee Laird

Tomorrow is the big day

Posted by is9582 on April 6, 2014 with No Comments

As I’d mentioned in a previous post, what was upcoming back surgery, is now upon us. A bit rough thinking about all of the rehab again, but we’ll make it through again. I hope everyone will continue to stop by the new blog site. I’ll try to post on a somewhat regular basis during my recuperation.


Thanks to everyone who’s wished me well during my recovery.




Lee Laird

Floating Shelves (the install)

Posted by is9582 on April 3, 2014 with No Commentsas , , , , , , , , , ,

In my previous article on the Floating Shelves from The Container Store, my focus was primarily from a woodworker/furniture maker type of view. During a couple of conversations I had about the article yesterday, I thought it would be useful to provide some additional information relating to the actual install/attachment choices to the wall, and […]