I am never sure what to make of thick thin, hard, softer when it comes to plane irons and spokeshave blades. They have all worked for me through the decades but many reviews are biased one way or another depending on whether, hovering somewhere in the background, you actually derive income to some degree or other. Thankfully I can test out unbiasedly because I bought all of these spokeshaves apart from the two bronze ones Joseph made for me ten years ago.
What I did was measure the thickness of the irons and noted them down. I was surprised at the differences in thickness. Because these spokeshaves are all bevel down types the thickness makes no difference in terms of effort because the angle of presentation is not altered by the slope of the bevel as is the case with bevel up spokeshaves.
I sharpened all of the blades to the same level using identical methods. I set each one to take a .13mm thickness shaving. Pushing them along the same strip of wood they spokeshave felt identical except for the Draper which felt marginally different but still worked very well. I could use any one of them but with prices ranging from £10 to £80 and most of them under £25 I was happy that people could indeed get a useable spokeshave at a fairly modest price. Record Irwin and Stanley are in production still and I did like the Stanley version straight off.
I asked Hannah to try them and give me her point of view in an identical trial and she too felt that they all worked fine but picked up on the Draper one in the same way that it worked but she could feel the difference. She also commented on the Veritas but that was because it was a first time use for her and she found it different and therefor more unusual. The one we both seemed to like the best was the one Joseph made for me in bronze.
It’s always surprising to me to see what companies like Draper, Silverline, Harbor Freight and Faithful do with regards to changes. On the first Draper version of the spokeshave I was able to recommend some months ago the screws were just fine, heavy enough and well fitting. I liked it. Then they dumbed down the quality of the setscrews and ruined it. The funny thing is that the new version has thicker steel in the cutting iron by an increase 20% give or take. That makes no sense to me.
It’s been interesting seeing the difference between the different spokeshaves and seeing how I feel about them. I am happy that just about any one of them will work just fine with some giving good or better value for money. My favourite will always be my bronze ones for several reasons. The bronze seemed to me more solid, absorbing and with less of the rattle as did the Veritas which has wooden handles and do the same to absorb and cushion. Starting out you should consider the Stanley as I think it will serve you both as an intro tool and for long term use. It’s been around for at least 40years to my knowledge without change.