American Woodworker

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Woodwork 

Winter 2013-2014

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Chairmaker's Delight

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by Tom Caspar

 

 

 

 

 

Imagine a spokeshave that never tears out the grain, no matter which direction you go, and you have the essence of this wonderful new tool, the Veritas Scraper Shave ($59). 

The Scraper Shave is a straight-handled spokeshave equipped with a scraper blade. As with all scrapers, the cutting edge attacks the wood at a very high angle in order to prevent tearout. You can make a continuous cut the entire length of a curved surface without having to worry about grain direction. 

This type of tool has a long and venerable history. Before the machine era, chairmakers made their own scraper shaves with a variety of flat, convex and concave bottoms. Antique artisan-made scraper shaves are difficult to find, however. Mass-produced scraper shaves, such as the Stanley 62, are very rare. My set of artisan-made shaves, which took a long time to assemble, is an essential part of my tool kit. I’ve also made my own scraper shaves, but now that’s no longer necessary.

This is a beautifully made tool. I found its straight handles more comfortable to pull than push. Its brass bottom, which is flat, would be easy to file or grind into a slight concave or convex shape to improve the tool’s effectiveness on curved surfaces. Unlike most scrapers, the blade is very hard, so it cannot be sharpened with a file. You must use stones or sandpaper.