The Stanley 151 Spokeshave Works Great

I was a little surprised that the Stanley 151, red and black version, could still be had new. I’m not sure why but Stanley upped the anti with their most basic spokeshave. Following the poor work of Draper spokeshave I asked Izzy to buy in a new Stanley. People new to woodworking need a good quality affordable model and this one will do everything I want of a flat bottomed spokeshave without faltering. Cost? £17 via Amazon with Prime for free next day delivery. I read the revues on Amazon and they were silly. One suggested paying a higher price and possibly being ripped off  not knowing whether it was some kind of knock-off. It’s an authentic Stanley spokeshave.

On an 8″ and greater radius the Stanley 151 spokeshave shown, flat bottomed as it is, cuts the concave radius just fine and of course any convex you care to need.

Out of the bubble wrap it felt sold and I liked what I saw and felt. For £17.71 and free shipping I think that it’s a very fair price and I have used this specific type for many years.

I didn’t need to do anything to make it feel like my own except sharpen it. That said, it did cut straight from the bubblewrap which surprised me. Following a decent sharpen the spokeshave cut very finely and nothing dug in at all. In times past I have found the leading edge at the forepart of the spokeshaves usually are quite angular and dig in ahead of the blade, tripping into the work before the cutter can cut. This one didn’t using it on oak, pine and walnut. I continued using it on my project, a tray for woodworkingmasterclasses and YouTube. I felt that the knurled adjusters work very nicely and with ease. there was little play in them so little whiplash between forward and backward adjusting. The knurling was neatly done. The setscrew centred in the spokeshave body wiggled only a tiny bit (as I found it does in premium models too) and felt solid when the cap iron was in place and tightened down.

The mouth was ground out accurately too and I liked that it was just the right amount as I don’t find tight mouths of any real value in a spokeshave as you can’t take the heavy cuts you often rely on to get into the work rapidly.

All in all I am glad we went this route and I can recommend this tool for anyone new to woodworking and then the well seasoned and critical woodworkers too. There is no point spending more than you have to unless you simply want to. This is the result of me playing around in some oak.

Concaves, bevel edges, end grain chamfers and coved ones too came readily from the new spokeshave and, the left surfaces needed no more treatment.

So in my view this spokeshave is equal to any task I pit it to. I shaved some mesquite, twice as hard as oak, and it had some wildish grain in there too, no problem.

Mesquite can be hard but the spokeshave never balked at all.

I will reserve more endorsement and see if anyone elsewhere buys one and finds serious fault with theirs.Curly ripples made no difference and `i peeled off layer after layer.

I know that it is not a pretty spokeshave but it is a good working model and I will be using it as much as I can just to make sure.

44 thoughts on “The Stanley 151 Spokeshave Works Great”

  1. I have one of these. Need to get a good sharpening stone still. But I was definitely pleased with it, newb though I am. Glad to see it passes muster here for you as well.

  2. It’s nice to know Stanley is still producing tools that can be used to get professional results…. It would be even better if they were still made in the UK.

    One of problems with some of these Amazon reviews regarding bladed tools; is that the buyer either doesn’t have the facilities to sharpen the blade, or are doing so incorrectly. I recently read a review from a disappointed purchaser who seemed to be under the misapprehension that a smoothing plane blade will remain sharp indefinitely, and a sharpening stone was an unnecessary purchase if the blade had been sharpened correctly by the manufacturer.

    1. That’s the human condition in a culture that believes it’s more intelligent than say a hundred years ago or five thousand years ago where the blind lead the blind ever more into believing they see all things because they have degrees proving it. More kids leave home and school nowadays where they have never touched a sharpened edge because culture and education makes people scared.

      1. Our ancestors, whether of five decades or 5 millenia, were definitely not stupid. What they had were minds, and curiosity, and imagination just like us. They understood the fundamental machines – lever, wheel, screw, pulley, etc. – and made good use of physics, perhaps at first intuitively.

        They were invested by their Maker with every bit of talent they needed to move mountains and make their own mountains, without the help of “ancient aliens” as some TV shows are wont to say. Maybe they hadn’t put together lightning from the sky to turn a motor to actuate a lifting or digging mechanism, but they soon enough figured it out – little by little. And figured out why.

        Our ancestors worked hard so we could work more effectively. Never forget who they were, and always be curious about what they did. Their intelligence is the reason we are here today.

  3. A few subtle differences between a crapola spokeshave (Sylverl…) and a workable one are:

    1) a slightly conical hole for the set screw in the cap iron, combined with a “oval or raised head (US)/ raised countersunk head (UK)” set screw.
    This prevent the cap iron movement/loosening while retracting the blade.
    To circumvent this default on mine, I have made a recess in the cap iron for the flat-head set screw. It is better done with a drill press and its vise.

    2) having reduced play between the knurled adjuster and the corresponding threaded rods and/or some friction between the adjusters and the blade. This to prevent Knurled adjuster to rotate by their own.
    I have put some heat-shrinkable sheath (electronics usage) on the adjuster barrel which provide some friction between the blade and knurled adjusters.

    3) The picture of the Drapper adjuster on a previous Paul’s blog (10 August 2018) shows poorly made adjusters which would give an excessive whiplash between forward and backward adjusting.
    Maybe inserting a few washers might cure the problem but it might be exasperating to get them in place each time you have to put back the blade after sharpening.

    My spoke-shave is now useable but it has been frustrating at first.
    I know Paul advised against Sylverl…. products.
    I have bought 90cm clamps from them which were satisfying(I used them to build my workbench). I then bought 60 cm ones which, although the same at first glance, were of a much lower quality.


  4. Glad to see you are putting it through it’s paces Paul. The curved new Stanley spokeshave I saw didn’t look that great with the finish versus the cost- maybe I was being to picky at the time given the comparative prices on older versions which haven’t been that hard to come by. I just checked the price online in for availability in Australia , seems to range widely from $50-$103! for the curved so $50 was a good price? and the 151 was going for up to $99AUS. I am happy to be swayed by what you say as with your other purchases you have been straight up with faults etc and the testing is carried out for a decent period. Can’t say much for the state of retail in Australia though . The more offshore operators move in the more the existing are going to get hammered, generally I think a lot of consumers here are sick of being stitched up price wise.

  5. Paul’s pictures are always so much more informative than those of the actual retailers. It’s currently thursday morning and the #151 price is still ~$18 dollars in the US (from some vendors). It will be interesting to see how quickly the prices (and quality?) change, and whether different vendors are carrying different grades of a similarly labelled item.

  6. I bought one of those a little while ago as it looked like a good deal.

    However, as a beginner, I was a bit too enthusiastic and rushes straight to the diamond stone to sharpen the blade.
    Had I paid more attention, I would have noticed the blade came entirely coated in some sort of resin, and before I knew it so were the diamonds…

    This is the only true fault I could find in it with my limited experience.

    As for the resin issue, I later found out it was also on Stanley-Bailey chisels I bought, and even on the entire blade of a Thomas Flinn handsaw I got later… (the whole thing turned out to be shoddy, I had to destroy the handle eventually)

    1. I had this layer on a flinn saw -tried white spirit but still quite a bit on. Any advice most welcome!

      1. In my case I managed to remove it using a biodegradable acetone replacement on a rag. Took a bit of elbow grease.

        Was the handle on the saw you have also stuck because of the manufacturing process?
        On mine, both the handle and the steel were drilled at once, so steel basically merged with wood in every hole.
        That alone was strong enough keep the handle on it no matter what I did. I tried putting the saw in the vice and pulling, all I managed to do was lift my workbench…

        1. Fraid they’re not drilled but hydraulically punched, hence the indent into the wood.

  7. Keith M Walton

    Has anyone complained yet that the tray youre making will be too simple of a project for them on masterclasses 😉

    1. I’ve never understood why folks complain about things being too simple. There are all kinds of ways one can increase the complexity such as using a more difficult wood to work with, adding inlay, using a smaller set of tools such as saw, chisel, hammer, starting from a felled log, etc.

      Oh, one could always try and do the whole project with your non dominate hand as well.

      1. It’s not that projects were too simple to ACCOMPLISH Keith, everyone acknowledged there’s always something new to be learnsd, and it’s enjoyable viewing. They were just too simple, too infrequent, and too drawn-out. They’re Masterclass Subscriptions remember. If the class had concluded a year ago, perhaps 35,000 subscribers should have been told?

      2. I really love the simple projects. As Joe hints, these provide instruction on fundamentals while also giving me (the slightly better than novice) craftsman room to add my own embellishments or twists. After all, I assume part of what we are trying to learn is how to be creative and not just produce copies of Paul’s items for ever and ever. At the same time, I do think the “complex” projects are valuable too. These projects tend to have a lot of rich little details that one can observe and learn from. I’ve learned a lot of fundamental skills watching Paul’s videos. I’ve also learned a lot of technique across a wide variate of applications. The complex project do add a lot of the latter. I do love (and think I always will) “simple” work like making spoons. Then again, is a spoon a simple project just because it only involves a couple of tools and doesn’t have moving parts?

    2. Actually, nope, and they most likely won’t because it’s actually a free two-part project for any and all subscribers to and subscriptions are totally free as everyone knows. This is simply my way of not being exclusive and contributing to future generations so as to always be encouraging those new to woodworking or woodworking with hand tools. Maybe you’ll be the first and only one to complain there, Keith. Oh, and does this have something to do with the spokeshave blog that’s also my contribution to the same people for free too? Not altogether sure where you’re coming from really!

      1. Paul, I think he was taking your side, and being sarcastic against the complainers. Thanks for another great blog article; a spokeshave has been on my short list, and this Artois quite helpful, thanks.

        1. I saw the shelf pieces I. The background and got excited to make one, and instantly thought, oh boy, hope it’s not too “simple” for the folks who haven’t been happy lately. I will enjoy making one. Thanks

          1. You see with that attitude you will enjoy it. Not only that you will then adapt what you learn to larger and different ones. Those who have learned from us over the years have gone on to make more complex pieces using our work as the foundational launch to develop from.

  8. Thanks Paul. I have been looking to build a second set of tools to take with me when I go to my fathers place. A big tree crushed his garage and he built a 4 car garage in it’s place (he has several classic cars he stores in it). He was kind enough to carve out a space in the garage and even installed a workbench for me so that we can woodwork when I visit.

    I’m looking for tools that work but don’t cost a lot since this is a second set. I trust your judgement.

  9. Been using it for 3yrs now after your sharpening instructions. Nice little tool. Finding a lot of uses & adjustments go it. Also built a different one from a kit. The Stanley is my go to.

  10. I purchased one about a year ago and I had to do some sanding to the frame so the blade would lay flat.
    My cap iron seems to be a bit too small and tends to rotate a little on the center screw. Leaving a gap on one side or the other. It doesn’t seat well like the old 151’s.
    It still works but definitely not the same as my older, much older 151.

    1. @Tad – Can you provide details on how you sanded the frame? The new one I got has rounded corners in the mouth, so the blade does not touch the bed, but rather rides on its extreme edges in the center of the opening. I’m wondering if this is typical, and whether there is a simple repair for it.

  11. Loïc,

    That is a an important object lesson. I just ordered one from a certain… Orange vendor. I will try to remember and soak it in solvent before sharpening it.

    Also, many thanks to Paul and crew for testing this tool out for us.


      1. Thanks Paul. I tried to buy it but they said they didn’t ship to Australia so I went to the Australian site and it costs $60 as opposed to $40 on the UK site.

        1. There are such differences between countries importing goods. Politics, economics, global economies and no one seems to see the discrepancies.

  12. I was pleased to read that you got the Stanley 151 flat bottomed spokeshave for 17.71 GBP. Thinking that it might be a bargain for me in the US, I checked Amazon prime and was disappointed to learn that it sells for $38 USD and change. I then checked the exchange rate, dollars to pounds, and found it to be 1.303 and a bit. Doing the math(s) indicates that Amazon should be getting less than $25 USC. I wonder what the ~$13 USD premium is for.

    Is this spokeshave still going for less than 18 GBP in the UK?

    1. It is going for that and up to around £21 depending on the seller. they always go up for a couple of weeks after my blog but then they settle down again. That said, I just bought two Stanleys secondhand for under £20 and then one for £9. One was in prime condition the other has a missing or wrong screw which is fixable. I will be blogging on this shortly.

  13. I will have to look around here because the last time I actually held this unit in my hand the price was roughly $40 US. It looked alright but I was hoping to find an older used tool for a bit better price (maybe just a bit better fit and finish too) but that has yet to happen. Used tools are a strange market here in the US right now with many buying them up to re-sell on the internet for a substantial mark up. Fine … all is fair in love and commerce but it does make life hard for those of us who were used to buying with a buck that had better buying power. Thanks for this review as always and keep up the good work!!

  14. Ja, I bought my old stanley spokeshave years ago from ebay, paying a lot for shipment, import taxes and all of those things (well, not A LOT compared to other things like the vise, but you get the point) that are an obligation when you live in a country far from where all this beautifull tools where made (or sold). However I remember seeying this spokeshave in a hardware store, I wish this article was around years ago.

    Well, doesn’t matter now, I’ve been always pleased with my spokeshave. If for whatever reazon I need a second one someday I’ll buy this one.

  15. Just bought a new , old stock 151 and all looks good except for the blade. I have stones and a diamond hone plus jigs for plane irons and chisels. I couldn’t use the jigs for the spokeshave blade. Any advice other than a high priced sharpening system?

      1. I had to get creative and spend some time but I did manage to get a good edge on my blade. I will certainly try your method. Thank you much.

  16. This is curious, especially the Amazon part. Timing of me finding this old blog post is right as well as Amazon just announced “Project Zero” to fight counterfeits on Feb 28th. As far as I know, Amazon also has a problem with mixing stock where multiple seller’s stock can all be housed in the same place in the warehouse and good sellers can be selling counterfeiters stock without knowing.

    Now I do not know if that happened or what exactly the difference is between a STANLEY 12-951 that I bought off Amazon and the 151 you mentioned work beautifully. My 12-951 however was awful. It stuttered and I was never able to do anything with it at all really (I wanted to make a longbow and started with a red oak board bow to train). I tried sharpening the blade. To no avail. I tried to get rid of the excess paint that ensure that the blade was never actually fully touching down, no matter how much you tightened it all up. Nothing worked. I gave up and sent it back and thought I was just too dumb to use a spokeshave.

    I don’t remember how but somehow I wanted to try again and bought a Veritas block plane and a Mora splitting knife. That block plane, without any sharpening on my end just went through like butter (after learning what grain direction is :))! I use the splitting knife both like a draw knife and as a scraper and I’ve finished my first bow.

    Also, I just LOVE planing! It just feels awesome. You have ignited something in me. I am off to buy wood for making your workbench right after this actually.

    Thank you Paul!

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