I know some people use a spokeshave to shape their necks, and I’m about to get one because my old Dremel-and-file method isn’t working for me anymore, and anyway I don’t want to get tennis elbow again if I can possibly help it, so I’ve got a Q maybe some of you can A:

Spokeshave: do I get a flat or curved blade, or does it even matter that much? There seems to be about a $20 price difference between the two, so if I can get away with the less-expensive option, I’d rather.

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I have a straight blade spoke shave, but I doubt that it matters if it is straight or rounded. Mostly it seems to be a matter of developing a technique for using the tool. It will remove a lot of material in a hurry and leave a very course (choppy) surface until you get a feel for both the tool and the direction of the wood grain.

It is definitely worth picking up and learning to use. You can produce a nicely rounded neck in a short time once you get the knack.

Good luck

My favorite neck shaping tool is the Y handled vegetable peeler. I have tried a few brands from a $2 one from Kmart to the Thai made Kiwi brand to a fancier looking metal handled one from Ikea. They all handle a little bit differently but all do the job. 


Go for a flat blade, and get a decent quality tool - a used Stanley or Record is your best bet rather than brand new no-name Chinese one. Don't expect a new one to cut well straight out of the box - the blade will most likely need sharpening and you need it adjust so that it is only taking a very thin shaving. The Stanley 151 pattern has two thumbwheels which make adjusting the blade easy. There are 3 main styles of spokeshave - straight (flat) , round (concave) and curved (convex) base - stick to the flat base one.

Here's how I carve my necks - the spokeshave work starts at around 6min 50seconds

Yes chickenbone, good advice. Cheap tools are just as such- cheap & no good for any kind of longevity & lack finesse 

CBJ is wise... I love my spokeshave.  Keeping the blade razor sharp is worthwhile effort.   I use mine on Maple...

Thanks for weighing in, all.

I got an okay-quality flat spokeshave.

And then I realized this: I don’t have a bench with a vise. So I can’t even use the thing until I figure something out.

I am beginning to suspect that I am not a genius.

Hi Clint, My suggestion may only apply if you also plan, at some time, to carve shapes like the heal of a guitar, or to blend the roundness of a neck into the square features of  peghead. Go for a curved style. 

My two shave's were over 50 years old, when I dropped one [about 15 years ago] and it shattered the handle of the flat sole spokeshave and ever since I have been using the curved sole one for all my shaping. In fact I just had to go and check to see which one I had been using.

But that is not all I use, I use my drawknife even more. See photo. However one does have to be more aware of grain direction so as to maintain a good surface. If the grain gets difficult I bring in the Spokeshave, and of course my Japanese hand cut rasp. 

No vise?......in the photo I show one of my systems for shaping necks. Instead of the vise shown you could clamp the neck to your worksurface.

Cheers Taff

Wow, you build nice ones.

Maybe I can clamp ‘em to the lawn tractor. (In addition to a vise, I don’t even have the bench said vise would normally be attached to. I’m really winging it here. Furiously winging it.)

  • I like my spokeshave ok, but what Taffy is showing I always knew as a drawknife and I find it a much superior tool for necks.  They work great unsharpened too, and can round a neck in a couple minutes. Sometimes the grain will fight it but most oak pieces can be made smooth enough to not really need sanding. I was given a huge one and bought another smaller one at an antique store.  Both will outlive me without question.

Thanks for the input, folks. I think I’m on a very different level, as an instrument-maker, than just about everyone. And I don’t mean a higher level, either.

After all of this, I think what’s going to probably happen is that I end up huffing away with a rasp to rough out necks while the spokeshave quietly rusts at the bottom of a toolbox, having never even been sharpened. I know me.

I had forgotten that anything related to woodworking is exactly like collecting vinyl records: you can’t just get a damn record. You gotta get outer sleeves and brushes and cleaning systems, and IKEA shelves, and by the way, what kinda stylus you using? Howzabout your speakers? Turntable looks a bit basic, too, while we’re at it...wait, you don’t have a 30-band EQ?!...

I’ll give the spokeshave a shot once I get the rest of the New Yankee Workshop set up, I guess. I’ve got blueprints for a DIY workbench, but I might be better off with a trip to Memards.

(Clarification, just in case: this is all written in the spirit of self-deprecating humor; I know that doesn’t always translate into text, and what with the rest of the internet being a brimming rage toilet, I’d hate for anyone to think I’m over here gnashing my teeth and making animal noises while standing on a milk crate.. I’m having a blast. Best forum I’ve ever been a part of. By the way, anybody wanna buy some records...?)

Hi, maybe your question could  have been, " should I get a spokeshave or a bench first?" . Any old table or chest of drawers or kitchen worktop/unit or desk can be made into a cheep bench.


Or even more fundamentally: “How do I make a CBG?”

(I’ve been doing this for six years. I think I may actually be getting dumber. Or I’m psyching myself out comparing my work to others’.)


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