Friday, June 8, 2018

A Funky Spokeshave

One of Orvil Heft's tools was an interesting spokeshave.  I'm hoping some of you can help me identify it.  It has no markings on it anywhere - neither on the body nor the iron.
The mystery spokeshave
The front of the body is a bit ornate, which is unlike any I've seen remotely similar to this.
Front part adorned with fancy design
I had never seen a spokeshave (or ever heard of one) that had an adjustable mouth, but that's what this one has.  After some internet research, I see that Stanley made a #53 with adjustable mouth.  This one has a very similar mechanism.
Top screw changes angle of front of mouth
The screw at the top raises or lowers the upper part of the front of this shave.  And because of two pins that pivot the front of the shave, this lowers or raises the front of the mouth.  Springs provide resistance to the pivot action.
Red arrow points to the end of a pivot pin
Yellow arrow points to spring
Unfortunately the pivot pins are not in the best shape.  One of them is bent and this causes the front of the mouth to be a bit cock-eyed.
Bent pivot pin is on left side, causing mouth to be wider on that side
When the top screw is screwed all the way in, the mouth is tighter and the sole is flat(ish).
Sole mostly flat
With the top screw screwed out, the mouth opens up and the front part of the sole is at an angle to the rear part of the sole.
Front of sole angled and mouth opened up
I'm not certain of the purpose of the adjustable sole.  But when it is at an angle, I can get into concave curves much better than a flat-soled spokeshave can.

Here's another interesting thing about this shave.  The 2-1/16" wide iron had a definite camber at the cutting edge.
Cambered iron
The previous owner of this tool (long deceased) was a carver.  He carved birds as a hobby in his retirement.  Perhaps there is some reason a bird carver needed an iron with such a camber.

If anybody has any information about this spokeshave or about its use, please let me know.

EDIT:  Bob Demers came through with all the information I needed.  See his blog entry here.  Apparently this is an E. C. Stearns #8 spokeshave.  Great info - thanks Bob.


  1. I was going to say Stanley until I saw the filigree around the front. None of my Stanley catalogs show fancy work on any of the spokeshaves. The Sargent, Sandusky, and Chapin catalogs came up dry too. Maybe it's an English import?

    1. Interesting. Thanks for checking on that, Ralph.

  2. That filigree looks like a Stearn, but normally it would say so on it. It is a copy of the Stanley original No 53 spokeshave. Will look in my American patented spopkeshaves book and get back to you if I find anything else on it

    Bob, with the grand kids this AM, the boy (Rudy) is all wrapped up on the couch with them and loving it

    1. Thanks, Bob. Hadn't heard of Stearn - I'll hit the internet and look for them now.

    2. Update: I found an almost identical (but not exactly) photo from an eBay sale in January and the seller said it was an E. C. Stearns spokeshave, though it had no evidence of the Stearns name on it in the pics. That spokeshave also sported a Stanley iron, further throwing doubt into the mix.

  3. Confirmed EC Stearns spokeshave No 8. The No 7 was similar but had gull wing.
    Ill explain shortly in a blog


  4. Replies
    1. Bob - you've outdone yourself. Thanks so much for the great information.