Tool Highlight: Spoke Shave
For years I have been insistent that the three essential tools in bow making were the hatchet, rasp, and scraper.
I would now like to add spokeshave to the list.
During a workshop in the fall one fellow brought his spokeshave with him to the workshop. I was a bit hesitant at first because in the past I have found the bladed tools (spokeshave and drawknife) to be overly sensitive to changing grain direction and knots. Of which yew wood has lots of both.
The advantage to the spokeshave is that it is so easy on the body to work with. Using both hands with the bow clamped securely there is very little fatigue to the bowyer. Which is great after spending many hours rasping. I still find there to be many situations where it isn't the right fit, but when the wood is fairly straight and you are working down to the line, it is now the go to tool.
I purchased a Veritas brand from Lee Valley tools and haven't looked back. The feedback from others using them at workshops has been great, especially when the forearms are sore and weak from hatcheting and rasping. We will be picking up a couple more to have on hand for the upcoming year.
They should be kept very sharp and with the guide set very low, so they only take off thin thin shavings, and use many light strokes to make progress.
On the downside it can be easy to not realize how much wood is being removed and go beyond what is desired. It can also be challenging to keep perspective and ratio on the wood when it is clamped to the bench. So, it is a very effective tool for the bowyer, but it also needs to be treated with respect as it can remove too much without due care.
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