Spokeshave laying on a piece of lumber

Spokeshaves are small plane blades and handles that are perfect for cutting round and curved shapes into your roughed-out workpieces.

The family of tools that is generically known as planes is pretty extensive; the next on our list is spoke shaves. A spoke shave is essentially a small plane blade affixed to a small plane body. As the name suggests, they are used for cutting round profiles and smoothing curves.

Many designs exist, mostly flat bottomed, but there are also soles that curve from front to back, and even some that are concave from side to side for small diameter parts like wheel spokes!

A spoke shave is a fast and safe tool for rounding a square blank into a rounded shape. With practice it is faster and easier then using the router table to make oval profiles or thin, tapered spindles.

Table leg blank with sides formed by spokeshave

Spoke shaves are the ideal tool for shaping irregular shapes like cabriole legs. A blank can be roughed out on the bandsaw and then the spoke shave is used to round the corners and smooth the faces.

Using spokeshave to round out table leg blank

One issue with shaping curved parts is that the grain direction can change along the length or from side to side. The small sole of the spoke shave allows it to be used at different angles and pushed or pulled as needed. Only the very tight curve of the foot cannot be quickly shaped by the spoke shave.

One or two styles of spoke shaves should find a place in your shop. You'll be surprised how often you reach for this versatile tool.