Published On: 13 May 2021618 words3.3 min read

Step 1: Don’t.

There are people who are very talented who will do this for you. It costs more but their time and expertise is worth something, so that’s fair. They know what they’re doing and have the correct tools. Let them do it.

Step 2: Be a stubborn pig-headed fool and decide to do it yourself anyway.

Hello! My name is Toben, and I’ll be your stubborn pig-headed fool today.

Step 3: Read all the things.

There’s some helpful info and tutorials out there, all of which assisted me in my journey to a modified spokeshave. In no particular order they were:

Step 4: Wait until it’s not raining horizontally or blowing a hoolie.

I had to undertake most of the metal work outside in our small shed, which involved having the door open and temporarily evicting our bicycles. So weather was key. Unfortunately my seasonal timing was pants, as I chose to do this in January. Working with metal on an island in Scotland in winter was perhaps not my brightest moment.

Step 5: Get filing.

Throughout this step refer consistently to Step 1 and question your life choices.

Step 6: Keep filing.

Step 7: When finished Step 6, loop back to Step 5 and repeat as needed.

Step 8: Admit defeat.

When you have either a) filed the base of the spokeshave to the required angle and opened up the mouth of it the desired amount, or b) run out of daylight on a short winters day in the north, tidy up and finish for the day. Marvel at the neat stack of metal shavings on your bench.

Step 9: Sand.

Refuse to go back out and work in the shed, and instead commandeer your kitchen countertops. Set up your sandpaper, honing oil, and lapping plate. Get sanding.

Step 10: Keep sanding.

Step 11: Refer back intermittently to Steps 1 and 10 until base is perfectly flat and smooth, and mouth is free from snags.

Step 12: Force your spouse/housemates/neighbours/postie to run their finger along the mirror-shine flat base and appreciate it’s newfound smoothosity. Accept the fact that you have just invented the word smoothosity.

Step 13: Attempt to modify the blade.

Spend a lot of time trying to adjust the angle of the blade before finally admitting this is going to take a bench grinder and not a hand file. Grudgingly accept that you have neither a bench grinder nor a bench to put one on. Do your best to just remove the sharp corners instead, and hope for the best.

Step 14: Sharpen the blade as is.

See Steps 9 to 11. Repeat until blade is terrifyingly sharp.

Step 15: Fill and flatten the bed.

Decide, for once, to just follow the easier route and use epoxy to fill in the divots in the bed of the spokeshave. Follow the instructions found in Step 3. Wonder at how delightfully easy this was.

Step 16: Try it.

Put everything back together, get out your paring surface and a scrap of leather with some onlays… and start praying to whatever deity/universal constant/house sprite you believe in.

Step 17: PARE ALL THE THINGS.

IT WORKED. REJOICE.

Step 18: Make a ridiculously complex and way over the top storage box for your new tool.

Seriously, it will still take less time than modifying the spokeshave itself. And be easier. And will protect the precious object into which you have just poured your blood, sweat, and tears.

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