The spokeshave rack

Spokeshaves are a must-have tool in any woodworking shop. They are incredibly useful, and they are safe to use for kids. I have a few, and I have considered making a rack for them for a long time. Time to git’r done!

The humble spokeshave does not look like much, but it is a true problem solver in the shop. You can set it to whisper shavings on one side and thick splinters on the other, thus having two setups in one tool with a gradual transition in between. Great for shaping round things, roundovers and so on. They are also very safe to use for kids. I have a couple of them (spokeshaves, too), plus a cabinet scraper and my Lie-Nielsen beading tool. All of which I want to have on the wall, ready to use.
The tools. Not the kids.

I decided to do a simple rack where the tools are stacked vertically. An easy-to-retrieve-and-put-away solution which takes up little space.

A piece of gash was retrieved from the scrap bin, and I made a test pattern by trying a 25mm (1”) Forstner bit first. It proved to be too narrow, so I tested a 30mm (1 3/16”) which was perfect. By arranging my spokeshaves on the work bench, I found that a 70mm (2 3/4”) distance gave me a compact rack without risking contact between the spokeshaves when hanging or retrieving them. Sharp edges meeting steel or knuckles and all that.

By cutting a 45° slot and drilling the center of the hole 40mm (about 1 1/2”) in from the edge, we create a groove that will hold the tools securely. A dedicated 45° miter square is a really handy tool, although the combination square can do the same job.

I marked the center of the holes. 25mm (1”) in from the edge and 15mm (about 5/8”) – the radius of the drill bit – from the bottom of the markings from the template.

A piece of OSB served as a backing board, and I set the depth stop on the drill press so that the drill bit just barely pierced through. I got almost nil tearout by doing it this way.

Using my Mora whittling knife, I chamfered the edges of the holes. I am going to sand them too. Oak can be rather sharp!

I cut the waste off with the band saw, following the lines and aiming so that the kerf intercepted the circle without making any transition marks.

I traced the holes onto another plank and rinsed and repeated until I had two identical pieces. I placed them in the vise, tapping with my hammer to align the bottoms perfectly – your fingers are amazingly sensitive and can feel the height of your fingerprints. You can feel perfect flushness very easily! I then planed the pieces flat and square so that I had two identical pieces.

I had a small plank lying around which I decided to use as the back piece, but it was slightly too narrow. A quick rummage through the scrap bin, and I found a piece I could glue to the plank to make it wider. Here I am planing the two mating surfaces at once, ensuring a dead accurate fit without having to worry about being perfectly square. If I plane at 91°, once I “open the book” (think of the planed surfaces as the spine of a book), one will be 91° while the other is 89° – and 89+91 is 180.

I glued and clamped the pieces using three sash clamps. To spread the pressure, I used a thick piece of wood to brace the thin batten. The forces from the clamp spread out at 45°, so if you draw lines from the edges of the clamp jaws at 45° you can determine how thick that piece of wood should’ve been – but for such a narrow piece, it will not matter. This will be PLENTY strong!

After the glue had cured, I cut the excess of the batten off, planed the flat faces smooth, squared off the edges and planed them parallell. The plank is slightly too short, but that does not matter for a piece of shop furniture. Good enough (read that article)!

A quick dry-test using clamps to hold the pieces, and I got a proof of concept. Even my Lie-Nielsen No.66 beading tool fits!

I gave the side pieces an appointment with my oscillating drum sander to smooth the cutouts, and sanded all the edges so that I won’t get an owie by accident.

Time for more glue. Usually when I watch youtubers gluing up stuff, they spread glue about even more ferociously than I do gravy on pork neck chops! We really do not need much! I can’t stand seeing glue ooze from joints, running and dripping all over the place “because too little glue is bad”! Learn to guesstimate better and stop wasting glue!!!!

And since I am such a know-it-all I decided to make this a teaching moment and show how to do it right! Little did I expect that I was the one getting a lesson! See this line of glue?

Yeah, that’s plenty for BOTH sides! Oh, well. I thought long and hard about the pot that called the kettle black and got on with it.

I got my trusty glue spreader apparatus mk1978tm out (I am born in ’78…) and spread the glue to a whisper thin, even film, wiping the excess on the other side (what is up with all those glue rollers, brushes and thingamajigs???):

The proof is in the thesaurus, they say – and the line of glue beads told me that I had the perfect amount of glue! Once distributed thoroughly, that is…

I waited until the glue had developed “milk skin” (hey, it is not every day you learn something completely useless trivia!!! Now you know why that brown layer on top of hot chocolate forms! In Norway, we call it “snerk”.), I scraped the excess off with a card scraper.

Four sash clamps and two pieces of gash made for an easy glueup. I left the rack in the clamps for a day. Not because the glue needed that much time, but I was busy.

Click on the image and study the medullary rays – to me, white oak is perhaps the most beautiful wood there is! I love working with the stuff.

I gave the rack a liberal coat of Osmo TopOil Natural. It is a hard wax oil with white pigment in it, which helps keeping the light color of the oak over time. Once dry, the wood texture is preserved.

I made two small holes for screws before I applied finish, so it was very easy to hang the rack on the wall. And it is just as easy to move it later on, should I want to change the placement. French cleat storage seems like a good idea, until you realize that you have created a huge pile of tiny shelves where dust can gather. I don’t think that is a good idea. The only drawback with screwing the holder to the wall is that I have to spackle and paint the screw holes if I move it. That’s a lot less time consuming and vastly cheaper than making a cheese grater wall.
At least in MY view. Feel free to disagree.

Here are a few pictures (click to expand):

It is strange how such small, easy projects on the to-do list keeps getting pushed down on the same list. For every small improvement, my shop becomes more and more organized and a better place for creativity and making of the things I dream of creating. For years and years, I dreamt about having a woodworking shop. That dream is a reality, and it keeps getting better. Especially when I decide to just get one more item on that “shop improvement list”, done.

I could’ve made a much simpler rack: a board with a row of headless nails. All of those tools has holes in both handles, except for the Lie-Nielsen one. And that is nothing a drill bit can’t solve (oooh, I hear fanbois screamin’!). But there is something to be said about having the tools presented in a nice manner – it gets my creative juices flowin’ just to look at a chisel or a plane – I start thinking about how to use the tool to create something. That’s something I have never experienced with a power tool.

Anyway, It’s time to rack this article up and call it done. The spokeshave rack certainly is!

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