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.


  1. Todd Fox=- on 24 August 2018 at 1:00 pm

    Three cheers for Joseph!
    Though I doubt he’ll be starting a tool company any time soon, there are a few small batch tool makers that cast replicas in bronze. The St. James Tool company sells on ebay and will do kits or parts, mostly in bronze.

    Offerings include .. a Stanley 71 kit for $36

    ..though quantities are often limited

  2. Todd Fox on 24 August 2018 at 1:49 pm

    Three cheers to Joseph! Although I doubt he’ll be starting a tool company any time soon so we can get one.

    For those who are interested there are other bronze cast replicas and kits. I found a miniature No71 style bronze kit on eBay from the St. James Tool company. They ship worldwide and this kit was only $35 US.

    Paul, you must’ve raised quite a craftsman if your son can cast superb bronze tools and build cellos. Congratulations to you both!

    • tf on 24 August 2018 at 1:56 pm

      **edit** its the “stjamesbaytoolco”. Mostly reproduction parts and blades, but also some Norris infill kits.

  3. Doug Finch on 24 August 2018 at 4:32 pm

    Paul, how do the old AMT bronze spoke shaves (in the Stanley 151 variety) measure up against the ones Joseph made? Also, I’d be interested to see how they were made – maybe let Joseph do a series on WWMC for those of us that are members?

  4. Mike Wasson on 24 August 2018 at 5:25 pm

    I agree the 151 is probably the one I use the most but one other you should put on your list for consideration is the “cigar” plane that Millers falls made(# 1). I managed to acquire one at a reasonable price on eBay and because I do a lot of smaller projects as I get older. I find that the inside curves on small furniture is much easier to access with a circle plane. After I finally figured out the best way to get a very sharp edge on my spoke shave blades, I find that they are indeed one of my favorite tools. They do require some experience but worth the effort.
    Greetings from Texas

  5. Steve D on 24 August 2018 at 5:51 pm

    Here is copy from a 151 knockoff on Amazon:
    ❤ PRODUCT INFORMATION — Tough 46mm carbon steel blades; Size: Length: 10″. Blade hardness: 58-60HRC. Comfortable contoured handles and Corrosion-resistant epoxy coating.
    ❤ DESIGN REASONABLE — The use of double-screw adjustment screw, you can easily adjust the planing thickness lock stable planing smooth.
    ❤ HIGH QUALITY — Blade selection SK2 material and the whole after heat treatment, knife-edge with a long wear resistance. The overall product heat treatment, high hardness and toughness, longer service life.
    ❤ REDUCE WEAR — The bottom of the choice of wear-resistant material, can effectively reduce the bottom of wear, to extend the service life.
    ❤ GOOD HELPER FOR WOOD WORK — Planing the use of iron casting surface spray, streamlined design overall beautiful, easy operation.

    —- This Isa good starter/beginner plane to use. It is a Specilized handy tool for carpenter sharpener using.
    —-This Spokeshave has a steel blade and precision adjustment knobs which makes ideal for shaping surfaces,such as shaping chair seats and legs.
    —- Heavy cast iron body, high carbon heat with double handles for efficient control.

    Also includes precautions!
    1, Blade sharp, Do not touch.
    2, Is strictly prohibited planing non-wood materials.
    3, Planer in the course of the use will gradually become blunt, please at any time to keep sharp.
    4, Abuse, misuse, excessive use easily lead to planer or broken scrap.
    5, After use to wipe clean, and coated with anti-rust oil after storage.
    6, please place in children not reach the place.

    It even has a 4 star rating just like the Stanley, although the review be like they writte by the people wroting the produce prescription.

    My review: Do not touch!

  6. Keith on 24 August 2018 at 7:46 pm

    Those trays you’re making look really neat

  7. Alan on 24 August 2018 at 8:23 pm

    Perhaps the dumbed-down Setscrew and thicker Iron on the Draper, is due to different component suppliers, as opposed to a single manufacturing perspective of old?

    There are still plenty of vintage Record/Stanley 151’s out there (£10-£18).

    I’d like to know how those compare against the mix of current spokeshaves. Are we getting hung up on “vintage is best”, or are they really still superior?

    • Paul Sellers on 24 August 2018 at 8:46 pm

      In my view the older models from up to the 70s were better. The grey ‘malleable steel‘ ones made by Stanley classed as “unbreakable” were the best and you rightly say that they are inexpensive enough secondhand via eBay.

  8. Jason on 30 August 2018 at 6:05 pm

    I own the Veritas spokeshave, and it is a real pleasure to work with. I really love the wood handles, which make just make it feel extra nice in the hands. I refinished the handles on mine with tung oil and orange wax.

  9. Mike Z. on 7 September 2018 at 2:03 am

    I am certainly glad you keep up with these items, although the old ones were made in the hundreds of thousands and more likely, some items can be hard to come by globally. I struggle buying off the internet as 50 years of looking at a good or item in the hand was the best way to shop and I usually feel cheated somehow when I buy something off the ‘net that is nothing like the photo when I actually open the box. The last one of the new Stanley 151 models I saw was just not up to standards so I passed, the retail outlet was also asking twice the going rate for them too so that did not sweeten the deal. The search goes on ….. thanks for thinking of us and our needs daily.

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