The Devil the Travisher and the Forkstaff Plane

The devil and the travisher share the form of the wooden spokeshave. The devil has been around forever—ever since we broke open that first stone and cut ourselves on the sharp edge. The chair maker's devil is a scraper in spokeshave form. As with any good scraper, it doesn't scrape as much as it shaves. The vertical iron is ground at 60 degrees and may be lightly turned to hook forward with a few strokes of a hard steel burnisher. In spite of its name, the chair maker's devil is a sweet-cutting tool and can shave any grain perfectly smooth.

The travisher is now the name for a high-handled spokeshave with a convex iron and bed used for smoothing Windsor chair seats. My old sources also tell me that a travisher is an ordinary-looking, straight spokeshave for spindles. The curved spokeshave now called a travisher was known to English chair makers as a smoker-back-hollow-knife.

Here's my theory. Smoker-back armchairs never became a part of the Windsor chair making revival. The curved shaves remained, however, still burdened with the clunky and now meaningless name smoker-back-hollow-knife. What to call them? Well why waste that leather-jacketed cool name, "travisher," on a regular-looking spokeshave? Sorry pal, the cool name now goes to the guy with the round bed.

It could also be that my old sources are askew. It happens. Still, a few years ago, some modern timber-framers, working with huge beams, began calling themselves joiners instead of carpenters. If this catches on, a thousand years of meaning will have shifted in our lifetime.

A short plane can follow curves and contours; often though, you want a tool with even less freedom. When you want to shape a straight piece, a longer bed will carry the iron over hollows, shaving only the hilltops until the high places are made plain.

Among countrymen, there's usually someone who supplements his farm income by making rakes, hayforks, and grain cradles for his neighbors. The forkstaff plane may be the only plane in his workshed. Concave in cross section but long in the bed, it will plane the staff of a hayfork round and straight. The forkstaff plane is the country cousin of the molding planes of the joiner, its iron contoured to match the shape of the finished product.

The devil — a scraper mounted in a wooden stock.
Use a forkstaff plane for long, straight handles.
Drive the peg almost through the dowel plate, then start another on top of it to knock it out.
Pull long, small rods of split wood through the dowel plate . . .

... shaving it through progressively smaller holes.

... shaving it through progressively smaller holes.

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Woodworking Tools and Installation Tips

Woodworking Tools and Installation Tips

There are a lot of things that either needs to be repaired, or put together when youre a homeowner. If youre a new homeowner, and have just gotten out of apartment style living, you might want to take this list with you to the hardware store. From remolding jobs to putting together furniture you can use these 5 power tools to get your stuff together. Dont forget too that youll need a few extra tools for other jobs around the house.

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