Chapin Tools USA, LLC

Block Planes

Stanley Planes


Making and Using Tools - Planes, Scrapers, and Shaves

  Spokeshaves - Use and Maintenance by Kevin Brennan


We equip our shaves with a pre-sharpened, A-2 Steel blade. A-2 is used because of its ability to hold an edge and because of its durability - especially in green oak.

The Standard size blade is hollow ground on both sides, like an old fashioned straight razor. This profile produces a smoother cut with less friction and makes the blade easier to sharpen. We want to be sure of your satisfaction so please read these instructions for getting the most out of our tools.

The shave comes sharpened and tested and ready to use but may need some adjustment to work correctly.  Please be careful to avoid cutting yourself on the sharpened edge and also don't let the blade drop onto a hard surface or come in contact with anything that might nick the edge.

In our shaves, depth-of-cut is changed by removing the blade and adjusting the "Jackscrews" found under the blade tangs.  While some other methods of adjustment have been developed we prefer this method because of the following:

  • Once adjusted for the cut, the Jackscrews give the blade a stable bearing surface, reducing the chance of chatter

  • The blade can be adjusted for a fine cut and quickly adjusted to cut thicker shavings temporarily by loosening one nut by a quarter or half turn; then returned to its original setting quickly, by re-tightening

  • Once adjusted to the user's particular needs the blade is usually left in that position and always returns to exactly the same place when returned from sharpening.

Removing the Blade for Adjustment

Hold the tool over a bench with the blade pointing away from you.

Spin off the brass nuts and let the blade drop to the bench.  Sometimes the blade will not fall completely out of the "Stock". 



If it still remains in the stock flip the tool over, so the blade remains pointed away from you, and lay it on the bench.

Carefully grab the tips of the tangs with your thumbs and forefingers and lift the blade out.

With the blade is out note the two Jack Screws just inside each tang stud hole. Take a standard Phillips head screwdriver and turn the screws clockwise to lower the blade for a smaller cut and alternately counter-clockwise for thicker cut.

A very little change goes a long way here - as little as a 1/12th turn can make a difference. Carefully replace the blade and nuts (these should be snug to avoid chatter) and test. Repeat as necessary until you are getting the shavings you expect. The tools are tuned with the goal of giving the user a cut across the full length of the cutter.


Many people like to have a blade set a little higher on one side to give a deeper cut on one side of the blade. Figure 4 shows the blade slightly higher on one side.


The following is important for getting the most out of this tool. When you are cutting a very tight inside curve you will need to let the blade out a little so it can bite into the work.

Holding the Tool

When using the shave it is better to "choke-up" on the stock to get the best control.

Experienced users tend to hold the shave with their first two fingers on the square part of the stock on either side of the blade, with their thumbs on the opposite side. Their other two fingers wrap around the inside curve of the handles.

This technique works best on a push stroke, especially when "lifting" the shaving by bringing the front of the tool up at the end of the stroke.

When pulling the shave across the work spreading your fingers on the back of the shave helps in control.  Apply even pressure to the tang studs to push the blade down and out.


  • Tip: Other things to consider are material and application, i.e. if you are working green oak you can cut a thicker shaving than in dry oak, and, while you will want a lighter cut in general in softwoods, you will want a finer cut in a chair seat while finishing than if you are shaping.

  • Tip: When loosening to get a temporary thick cut, add tension to this by tightening the other side a little.

Kevin Brennan of Kansas City Windsor Tool Works

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