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How to sharpen a spokeshave blade

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flat, convex and concave spokeshave blades The following are mainly hints for the sharpening of a flat spokeshave blade, but the process, if not the actions, are the same for convex and concave blades.

There are specific tips for convex and concave blades further down the page.

spokeshave blade Spokeshave blades should be kept even and sharp, this means they may need sharpening quite often and also when first purchased.

If the tool is not working as well as expected this may be an indication that the blade needs sharpening.

The blades should however last for a long time, when they do not sharpen in to the correct shape they should be replaced.

Sharpening tools

different grades of sharpening stone There are various sharpening tools you can use on spokeshave blades.

Whichever sharpening tool you have, It is recommended to use a selection of grades, progressively getting finer to achieve the best results.

whetstone, sandpaper, bench stone, water stone Some of the possible sharpening tools include whetstones, bench stones, sand paper and Japanese waterstones.

These should be prepared and used according to their instructions.

Before you begin

homemade spokeshave blade jig To sharpen a spokeshave blade, you can also use a jig to hold the blade, this provides a larger area to grip, making sharpening at an angle easier.

Jigs can be purchased or homemade, by using a large dowel or piece of wood with a split for the blade to sit in. A spokeshave blade must be sharpened on its bevel, which is what makes a jig necessary, but it can also be done by hand.

wonkee donkee top tip Before each stage of sharpening, apply marker pen over the whole area to be sharpened.

Then, after you have ground down the blade, you will be able to see low spots where the marker is still present. Once all the marker is filed off, the surface should be much closer to flat.

Sharpening the back

lay blade flat on sharpening stone The flat side of the blade, without the bevel, is simply sharpened by placing it flat on your chosen sharpening tool.

It is then pushed around the tool in a motion that is most comfortable, whilst applying a downward pressure to the blade.

smooth back of blade This is then repeated on finer sharpening tools until the desired smoothness is achieved. This method is the same for flat, convex and concave blades.

Sharpening the bevel

tilt blade on to bevel Most spokeshave blades have a bevel of around 25° – it is important that you try to keep it at as close to this angle as possible.

Place the blade bevel side down on the sharpening tool and then tilt it forward on the heel until the bevel is flat on the tool.

move blade around sharpening stone on bevel Keeping firm pressure on the bevel and the angle steady, move the blade around the sharpening tool in a comfortable motion.
shiny, sharp, smooth blade Repeat on finer grains until the blade is shiny and smooth.

Removing the burr

feeling the burr on the back of the spokeshave blade Sharpening the bevel will produce a burr on the edge of the blade. You will be able to feel this by running your finger down the back.

Remove the burr by quickly grinding the back of the blade on the chosen sharpening tool.

Convex and concave blades

sharpening back of concave blade The back of the convex and concave blades can be smoothed in the same way as the flat ones.
curved sharpening tool It is more tricky to sharpen the bevel on convex and concave spokeshave blades.

There are curved sharpening stones available, but a normal square-shaped stone will need to be rotated around the shape of the blade. This requires some skill to achieve an even finish.

using curved wood and sandpaper to sharpen concave blade Another option, for the concave blade, is to use the spokeshave to create the correct curve on a scrap piece of wood.

Then stick sand paper over the top of the wood, and use this to sharpen the bevel on the blade.