The spokeshave is an interesting tool; boatbuilders, luthiers and furniture makers have utilized this humble tool for centuries to chamfer, shape and smooth all manner of parts, from cabriole legs to guitar necks. Master bowyer Tom Turgeon needs a spokeshave to ’tiller’, or shape the longbows he makes. Finding all of the commercially available spokeshaves inadequate, Turgeon set out to make his own, and now offers three beautiful versions for sale through Turgeon Tools. The tasks spokeshaves perform are impossible to replicate with any motor-driven tool. While Turgeon didn’t invent the spokeshave, he has certainly come a long way to perfecting it!
Turgeon Tools offers three models to address a variety of surfaces and cutting needs: a flat-sole, a curved-sole, and a concave-sole. The profile of the handles was inspired by an old rolling pin passed down through the Turgeon family. The handles are African Padauk, a rich, dense, burgundy colored hardwood. The cap and sole of each spokeshave is computer carved to extreme tolerances to ensure the blade nests tightly and does not chatter when cutting. The knurled knobs are easy to tighten with the thumb and one finger, and are as finely machined as the cap and sole. The fit and finish of these spokeshaves is amazing.
These spokeshaves are designed for premium anatomical comfort. The handles angle downward and backward, which makes them look a tad unconventional. But in use, the shape and design need no explanation. The positioning of the handles offers premium comfort for this delicate work, even for my big hands. Each of the spokeshaves comes ready to perform straight out of the box. The blades are razor sharp and require no tuning at all.
All three blades are cryogenically treated A-2 steel and hardened to a Rockwell hardness of 60-62. Oh, and the blades are thick! This thickness provides superior cutting mass and longevity as the blades are sharpened over time. At .140 inches, the blades are so thick they practically cast a shadow on the quarter I have included in this image.
Spokeshaves are quite versatile tools. I first used the concave-sole spokeshave to smooth the curve of this arched stretcher, then I used the flat-sole spokeshave to chamfer the sharp, curving edges. The spokeshave produces silky smooth shavings off the corner. This tool invokes the essence of traditional woodworking; I love that I don’t need to wear hearing protection or a respirator while executing this task, and I can use sight and sense to size up the chamfer.
Operations like this tapered radius are really challenging, if not impossible for a motor driven tool. But a dozen strokes with a Turgeon Tools spokeshave makes quick work of this nuanced wood shaping. My favorite part is the tiny, beautiful facets the tool leaves, proof of the hand-work involved. The fit, feel and performance of each of these spokeshaves is impeccable, and will make a great addition to any shop.
Photos By Author
Turgeon Tools Spokeshaves
Flat Soled Spokeshave, $125.00
Curved Soled Spokeshave, $125.00
Concave Soled Spokeshave, $125.00
Spokeshave Kit- Set of Three, $350.00