Repairing and Tuning a Stanley 151 Spokeshave

I acquired (was given) a Stanley 151 spokeshave recently. I didn’t already have that particular model, so I was grateful to add one to my collection. The only thing wrong with it was that it was missing the screw that secures the lever cap.

I had a few hours to kill one afternoon so I decided to turn this old tool into a user. I started by disassembling it and sharpening the blade. I took it to my series of diamond stones to flatten and polish the back then the bevel. You can see in the photos the original factory grinding scratches revealing that the back of the blade was a little concave. This is not an ideal situation, but with a little elbow grease on some coarse sandpaper followed by the diamond stones, I was able to get it flat, especially near the cutting edge. For sharpening the bevel, I tried to use my Veritas honing guide but it was a little tricky since the blade is so short. I managed to barely get it clamped into the honing guide close enough to match the existing bevel angle. Then I progressed through the grits on my diamond stones, carefully removing the burr on the back side after honing.

The next order of business was to make some attempt to flatten the bed where the blade rests. The casting is fairly rough here and simply painted at the factory without any further machining. I dug through my ancient collection of files to find one thin enough to fit through the mouth. I wasn’t aiming for a shiny surface, just one flat enough to provide a solid bed for the blade. This helps avoid “chattering” as you use the spokeshave.

While I had the diamond stones out, I took a few minutes to polish out some deep scratches in the sole of the spokeshave. This had the added benefit of ensuring it was flat.

The final piece I needed to get this plane usable was a replacement screw. Stanley was known for using what are now obsolete thread patterns. I wasn’t sure what threads were used for this particular screw. I tried a #10 screw. Too small. A 1/4″ screw was too large. This led me to believe that is was a #12. I knew that if this was the case, I was going to have a harder time finding a screw.

I went to one of my favorite sources for oddball hardware, McMaster-Carr. Yep. They have them. But only in quantities of 50. I was at least encouraged that #12-24 fasteners are still made.

To verify that this was indeed the correct thread, I dug through a small box of thread taps I had collected over the years. Much to my amazement, one of them was a #12-24 tap. I tried it. It fit perfectly.

I dropped everything and set out on a quest to find a replacement screw. I went to my local True Value¬†hardware store that has a reputation for having everything. My first pass through the fastener aisles yielded nothing. So I thought I’d check to see if, by chance, they had a tap and die set for #12-24 threads. Yep. They did. I bought it. I figured the worst case scenario is I’d somehow make a replacement screw from brass rod or something.

Then I decided to take one last look at the fasteners. There they were. Two of those cardboard “drawers” full of Phillips-head machine screws. So I bought a couple. Later, I thought perhaps I should buy a dozen or so, just in case another orphan tool comes into my shop. You can see in the photo above the new screw compared to a #10 screw.

I was excited to get home and put the spokeshave together and give it a test run. Not so fast. The head of the screw was way too large to pass through the keyhole slot in the lever cap. Not to be discouraged, I chucked the screw into my drill press and tightened the chuck tight enough to keep the screw secure without damaging the threads. Then I turned on the drill press and used a file to reduce the diameter of the screw head.

Once everything was back together, it worked like a champ. And that brings me to my next question: Do you push or pull a spokeshave? For me, I find I have better control by pushing it. But it depends on the situation. The key is, use whatever method works for you.