Thursday, May 17, 2007


Above you see a few inshaves. Really, the only one that I use is the one on the left. It is available from Highland Hardware under the name "oxhead". I have seen all types of inshaves and found this to be not only my favorite for its shape and ease of sharpening, but also the value. While it is not a "beautiful" tool I have found it to be easily tuned and just the right shape for the job. The inshaves on the right are antiques (you can see the imprint "cast steel") and I think that their shape is very telling. You may have noticed that the inshaves generally available have a tight circular radius, yet the shape of these old tools is relatively flat. What gives? Somehow, I think that the toolmakers today have looked at the windsor seat and decided that to carve it takes a tight radius. I haven't found this to be the case. The shame is that these inshaves are often beautifully made (with a cost to match), although I find the geometry tough to sharpen. Here is the difference, imagine trying to flatten a board with a small blockplane. It would take a great deal of care because it could only take a small cut and a limited amount of information about the surface. The idea is generally to take a larger plane that will take in more information and "map" its shape onto the wood. The same goes for carving seats. An inshave with a tight radius may be more suitable to bowl carving. If you already own an inshave with a tight radius, you don't "need" to buy any other, but if you are in the market for one, I've found the "oxhead" to be a great buy. I'll go into the use and sharpening of this often misunderstood tool in another post.


Anonymous said...

I agree with you Peter. The tighter radius curves near the back of the seat can be done using the corner areas of the inshave, so the circular types I have seen advertised are not necessary. Then again, I don't use an adze either as I can rough out the seat with an inshave in about the same amount of time it takes when using an adze and I don't have to worry about ruining a seat with a missed stroke of the adze.

Russ said...

Hi Pete,
I just bought the Oxhead inshave and was wondering why the handles interfere when in use? The inshave came with a 30 deg. bevel on the outside of the blade,and the handles angle up 105 deg. from the back side of the blade. I was thinking of putting a 10 deg. outside bevel and a 20 deg. inside bevel on the blade, in order to get the handles up higher for clearance? Any thoughts on this solution and sharpening the inshave would be appreciated.
Thanks and Happy New Year

Peter Galbert said...

I don't think that I would alter the blade like you are suggesting. I am not sure, but I think that the handles may be hitting because you are pulling the tool in a direction parallel to the handles. I always use this tool by pulling it sideways across the grain. The two handles seem to beg to be pulled evenly and straight but the results suffer. So try letting one side lead and keep the blade at an ange to the direction of the cut. I will measure my inshave to see that it has the 105 degree angle. Feel free to call me if you would like to discuss it further. I will do an entry further explaining the technique that I use.