For more information on spokeshaves, see our beginner site Common Woodworking.

Three years ago a woodworking guru in a British woodworking magazine gave advise to  a new woodworker because he had asked why he couldn’t get good results from his Stanley #151 The tool kept digging in and gouging the wood. The guru gave no remedial advise to the writer. He actually stated that you cannot get a shaving with this spokeshave and that he should buy a xxxxxxx make. I wrote to the editor mad as could be. He could do no more.  Had I had internet blogging in place I could have responded as I did to the editor:

Fact: The #151 or similar metal-cast spokeshave have been in every carpenter’s and furniture maker’s  tool boxes for a century. Fact: I bought my Stanley #151 malleable iron spokeshave in 1965. I have used it almost every day for 46 years. Fact: Woodworkers for a century were not waiting for someone in 2008 to tell them that what they were using didn’t really work that well and that they should switch to buy a model XXXXX. Fact:Woodworkers for a century, perhaps a hundred thousand of them, had owned and used the #151 spokeshave successfully. Fact: Wooden spokeshaves were not inferior to model XXXXX, just different. Fact: Model XXXXX is an excellent spokeshave and I own and use one of those too. Fact: There are things I can do with a wooden spokeshave much more effectively and efficiently than I can do with my model XXXXX. Fact: There are things I can do with my wooden boxwood spokeshave that I cannot do with my model XXXXX or my Stanley #151.


Fact is that this is not an either or but an all. I have accumulated a dozen spokeshaves and I use them all, I like them all and I have special ones that I sharpen to task. Don’t be fooled by those who tell you that the old timers didn’t use them because they didn’t have them or because they were resistant to change. A wooden jack will hog-off ten times more than any Stanley Bedrock can and a Lie Nielsen 4 1/2 is still one of the best engineered 4 1/2 planes on the market though it is somewhat heavy and a cumbersome too. A Stanley 4 1/2 secondhand will achieve the same results but I do like the Lie Nielsen range of planes also. Its very rarely an either or when it comes to tool choices. The very best engineered tool may not do what a a lesser quality tool will do sometimes. Keep an open mind when it comes to real woodworking everyone. That’s what it takes to become a craftsman.


  1. ScottV on 26 February 2014 at 7:53 pm

    The pictures are no longer showing up on these old blog posts. It is a shame since there is a lot of useful information packed into these posts.

    • Paul Sellers on 26 February 2014 at 9:42 pm

      I will look into it. Thanks for the heads up.

  2. Darrell V on 16 April 2014 at 4:41 pm

    How would you rate the new Stanley Spokeshaves (#12-951)? Would it be an acceptable starter, or would you recommend getting a #151 from E-bay?

    • Paul Sellers on 16 April 2014 at 5:16 pm

      I just bought half a dozen 151s on ebay this week because we are a bit low. These are guaranteed tools. I love em. we have a series of videos coming out on these tools on woodworkingmasterclasses so you might want to subscribe for the free membership as they will be free vids for signed in supporters. here is the link.

      • John Taylor on 26 July 2014 at 10:01 pm

        Hi Paul have I missed the videos or are they out soon…..thanks john

  3. Don on 27 May 2014 at 4:39 am

    I purchased a Stanley 151 when I was 10 years old from an old-fashioned hardware store long ago closed in Plainwell, Michigan. I am in my 60’s now. I love this old tool. I only wish I had a concave and convex to go with it.

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