Making a bed

So I had purchased a Stanley 151 spokeshave off of eBay.  When I went to use it, even after sharpening the iron, it rattled and snarled, and the depth adjusters didn’t.  A little work was required before it could live in the toolbox.

The troubleshooting process in this case could be diagrammed like a flowchart.  Is the iron sharp, and the back flattened?  (Yes)  Is the lever cap tightened adequately?  (Yes)  Is the mating surface between the iron and the body clean and smooth?  (Eh, not so much…)

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This part of the spokeshave, referred to as the bed, was a fairly rough casting to begin with, and then had been japanned after that.  The net result was only a small fraction of the bearing surface was actually bearing.  Thankfully, it’s a fairly simple process to rectify.

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The file on the left is the one I use for most of my metalworking needs, from filing rivets to jointing saws.  But it is much too large for this.  Instead, I needed the little 4″ files on the right.  It’s not complicated, but it is rather painstaking to gradually true the bed.  You must be sure to keep it as level and even as possible.  You should stop when the bed is mostly cleaned up.  If you pursue the last little bit of enamel, it will require removing a lot more metal.  This will open up the throat of the spokeshave excessively, as well as increasing the risk of introducing inaccuracy.

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The problem with the depth adjusters proved to be some dinged up threads.  You will want to fix these after you true the bed, in case you nick a thread with your file.  It’s certainly possible to run a die over the threads if you have the die.  But I prefer a different solution.

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This is a thread restorer.  It has saved my bacon on numerous occasions.  It will work on external threads of almost any diameter, rather than being tied to one exact thread pitch (like ¼-20 or 10-28).  There’s a different TPI (Threads Per Inch) measure on each face.  All you have to do is gently run the appropriate teeth over your munged up threads, and they will recut the damaged portion, allowing the screw thread to work properly.

Once the bed was trued and the depth adjusters repaired, the spokeshave worked just fine.  A little bit of fettling is usually all it takes for an antique tool to perform, and at a fraction of the cost of buying a new one, which is always important in a tiny operation like mine!

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