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Spokeshaves Rule!


J_48_Johnson
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Short story...

My Dad has had a spokeshave for years, and I think when I was a kid I messed around with it once trying to figure out how to use the darned thing while working on my pinewood derby car. All I did was gouge the wood and I gave up. Anyway, I've seen people post about using them for making your own necks. I bought one along with other tools when I was gathering things for my next build.

I am now in the process of making my third guitar, a neck through LP. This morning I started to cut the neck profile. Set up with the spokeshave and some rasps, I started work. Following Melvyn Hiscock's directions from his book, I made the profile, (rough), at both ends of the neck and started using the spokeshave to bring them together.

At first, I tried to cut too much. Then, too little. Then I got the right amount of curl from the blade, but it went out of tune somehow. I messed around with it and figured out how to lock the blade in place and I was set.

I can not believe how nice it cut the wood, and how fast I started making a very nice neck profile from a block of wood. It was a delight to use.

After I had it roughed in, but pretty darned close to the profile, I rough sanded with 80 grit on my orbital sander, then block sanded with a long block, 10"-12" long to make sure I didn't have any high spots, and it was smooth along the entire length. I left it at that because I still have work to do on it, but if you have never worked with a spokeshave, by all means try it.

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I am quickly learning the joy of hand tools. I use them whenever I can anymore. They usually don't take much longer than power tools, are easier to clean up chips, and I think just plain fun. Pick yourself up a scraper, and you won't even need the 80 grit paper anymore. The scrapers leave a finish on the wood bette than sand paper, and with a little practice the neck will be smooth enough to apply finish right after using the scraper.

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I use my curved-bottom spokeshave first to give the neck a very basic curve. I have it set up to take pretty big ribbons of wood off with each pass, so the neck goes from a block to a cone pretty quick. Next I get the heel and behind the nut with rasps. Then comes the straight-soled spokeshave. This is where the real "shape" of he neck is determined. Then I get out the scraper to really sculpt the heel, behind the nut and make sure I've got no high posts on the bulk of the profile. Shoe-shine it with progressively finer grits, and I'm done.

So I guess that's what the curved-sole spokeshave is for. Imagine yourself spending more time with it on necks that are meant to be thinner.

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Interesting. I've only gotten good use out of it for running up into the heel from a ready sculpted neck. I found that the flat soled spokeshave was more "consistent" than the curved sole for profile shaping. Equally, the curved sole worked adequately in pulling out belly contours. Ugh! You can tell i've not done any reasonable amount of building for a while as i'm talking in the past tense :D

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