Metal Spokeshaves

                                        METAL SPOKESHAVES

What must be the earliest of MARPLES Iron Spokeshaves was Patented on 12th March 1885, Patent # 3227. I only have the photos below of this fragile looking shave and I note that it does not appear in the 1897 Catalogue. [See the Wooden Spokeshave section for a Wood equivalent shave]

The ‘M‘ Iron bench planes were introduced in February 1933 with no mention of any forthcoming additions to the line until in the December 1934 Pocket catalogue,  wherein it is stated: ‘Also Routers, Scrapers, Spokeshaves, etc.’ This continued in the Pocket catalogues until only in that of March 1936 are we actually shown a full description with drawings of the Spokeshave line. It is stated that  ‘Cutting Irons of Marples Special Edge Tool Steel. Crucible Cast.’, as shown below.  What you see here was the full line of MARPLES Iron Spokeshaves, as no others were ever introduced and there was only a line reduction from this time forward.
The March 1938 Pocket Catalogue does indicate that the base castings were of ‘Best Grey Iron’ with the cutters still being supplied as above.​ PLEASE NOTE here that the Spokeshaves of pre-war production were manufactured at the ‘Northern Tool Works‘ [a facility owned by Turner Naylor & Co Ltd.   a  Company very closely associated with Wm. Marples & Sons] and it was not until after the war that production was started at ‘Hibernia Works‘.

The chart below will show the availability of the Iron Spokeshaves over time, shown with prices:

  • No.              M51      M51R     M151     M151R     M53     M64     M63     M55
  • Date
  • 3/36           1/6d       1/6d       2/3d        2/3d        2/-        1/3d      1/3d      2/-
  • 9/36          2/-          2/-         2/9d       2/9d        2/6d     1/6d      1/6d     2/3d
  • 3/40          2/-          2/-         2/9d       2/9d        2/6d     1/6d      1/6d     2/3d
  • 12/49        5/-          5/-         6/3d       6/3d        —-    3/6d      3/6d    —-
  • 11/51          6/-         6/-          7/3d       7/3d        —-    4/3d      4/3d    —-
  • 4/52          6/-         6/-          7/3d       7/3d        —-     4/3d      4/3d    —-
  • 9/55          6/9d       6/9d      8/3d       8/3d        —-     4/9d      4/9d   —-
  • 12/59        7/6d       7/6d       9/-         9/-          —-     5/3d       5/3d    —-
  • 4/61          7/6d       7/6d       9/-         9/-          —-     5/3d       5/3d    —-
  • 4/62         7/9d       7/9d       9/6d       9/6d       —-     5/6d      5/6d    —-
  • 1/64          7/9d       7/9d       —-      9/6d       —-     5/6d      5/6d    —-
  • 3/64         7/9d       7/9d       —-      9/6d        —-    5/6d       5/6d    —-
  • 4/65         —-      —MA 12/6d MA 12/6d —-   —-      —-   —-
  • 11/69        —-      —-   WITHDRAWN         —-    —-     —-   —-

RECORD took over MARPLES in 1962 and consequently withdrew the M151 Flat Bottomed Adjustable Shave. Apparently they must have re-introduced that style as the MA151 (and the Round Bottom variety as MA151R) prior to 4/65, these being the only ‘MARPLES‘ Spokeshaves then produced.
Do not forget that RECORD also produced Spokeshaves in direct competition to MARPLES, so this was just a fading out of the MARPLES name.  Sometime before the Price List of November 1969, these MA examples were themselves phased out of production.

So now I will try to Analyse each Iron Spokeshave in order for you to gain a greater depth of understanding.  Please Note: that the information to be found below under ‘M51 and M51R‘ spokeshaves applies to all of the shaves, so reference should be always made back to this section.

M51 and M51R:

This was the standard large non-adjustable spokeshave produced in both Flat and Round base varieties. Manufactured 1936-1964, the Iron body remained unchanged throughout its’ history. As with all the spokeshaves they were initially introduced with a Black body and a Red Lever Cap, changed briefly
c.1942-4 to a Green colour and around 1944 to a Red Body and Black Lever Cap. It is difficult to determine any closer dating.  The body was 10″ long and the Cutter was 2.1/8″ wide. The bolt running through the Lever Cap, and thereby applying pressure to the cutter edge, was 12mm diameter and had vertical parallel knurling on the side, which was 4mm thick. As with all the shaves, the water transfer was applied to the Left Hand Side handle on the Black Body shaves and to the RHS handle on the Red Body shaves.
Now, due to the fact that the only other distinguishing feature to help us date shaves is the marking on the cutter, and given that the cutters can be so easily replaced, we cannot place good faith in the cutter markings to establish a date for the shave and neither the Body nor the underside of the Lever Caps had any markings.
The undersides of the Lever Caps were always un-painted.
At some time these spokeshaves were released having the body painted a Gold colour and having Red Lever Caps.  I had always thought that these shaves were made of Malleable Iron, but I am unable to find ANY reference or Price Listing for such an item.   Other Manufacturers [e.g. RECORD] offered Malleable Iron shaves but these were always at a higher price. If the MARPLES Gold shaves are Malleable Iron, I would expect a similar pricing difference to show up in the Price Lists. But no such reference can be found. I believe that the Gold shaves were produced after 1944 because the Water Transfer seems to occupy the RHS handle [as with the Red body shaves].
When the Body colour was changed c.1944 from Green to Red I think that the Red was initially a Maroon colour and then changed swiftly to a real Red. [I have a Gold M51 with a Maroon Lever Cap, and a totally Maroon M53  {with a transfer on the RHS handle}.]

Transfers: The usual transfer found is the round ‘MARPLES‘ only transfer [below Left] but an earlier one may be the transfer shown on the middle and right below.

The 2 photos above right are of course confusing as the same transfer appears on an early Black bodied shave and on a much later Red bodied M55.  But between these 2 shaves appears the Round transfer above Left!      I cannot explain this.
At some time the Black bodied shave was replaced by a Green body with a Green Cap and I now have surmised that this occurred in the ‘Green‘ time of MARPLES .  The cutter markings seem to back up this fact and it is therefore possible that the Black body was changed to Green c.1942 [and then to Red around 1944/5?]  The ‘Green‘ castings seem quite rough, as if cast my unskilled hands and this may have been due to the fact that many of the ‘apprenticed’ expert male personnel were conscripted into the Forces and women had to be quickly introduced into the MARPLES [and other manufacturers] foundries having literally to learn on the job, with little expert guidance.  See below.

I have found two cutter markings on the ‘Green’ spokeshaves and the earlier one [left below] shows the trefoil, whereas later this is omitted:

M151 and M151R:

These spokeshaves were the Adjustable brothers of the M51 and M51R.     The M151 was produced from 3/36-1962 and the M151R from 3/36-1964.
All the characteristics described under M51 apply to these adjustable spokeshaves.
Obviously the castings were different because the M151 had to have threaded rods inserted into each side handle and also provision was made here for a Thumb Rest each side of the cutter. This makes guidance and control so much easier that I wonder why this feature was not incorporated in all the other spokeshaves.

What may be the very first M151 Flat bottom Spokeshave is shown below….please note the transfer….

Below  you will see the ‘Maroon‘ version c.1944, just before a real Red colour was adopted.

Above is an MA151, produced by RECORD/MARPLES approx. 4/65-11/69.

The above ‘Gold‘ coloured variety is actually a Brown/Gold variety and I have no idea where this fits into the pattern! [Maybe the very first introduction of the ‘Gold‘ colour?]

Above here is one of those Green painted MARPLES spokeshaves [repainted], but judging by the Cutter blade mark seems to put it around 1944.  The castings are not as good as usual for MARPLES , but this may be explained by the date.   MARPLES did go through a GREEN phase which I am presently investigating to narrow down the date. c.1942-44

M63 and M64:
These 2 spokeshaves were again introduced at the onset of Spokeshave production and lasted until circa March 1964. The M63 was Round faced and the M64 was Straight faced. Both of these smaller shaves were described as ‘Straight handled’ and were 9″ long,  having a 1.3/4″ cutter width. The pressure applied by the Lever Cap always seems to have come from a Wingnut [pushing against the back frame], not a Round knurled headed bolt [which pushes against the cutter face], and the cutter has a vertical slot in it to accommodate this Wingnut.

The M53 was the only Spokeshave that had an Adjustable mouth width and it was produced first around 1936 and was phased out around 1944. This latter date I have established because though the Price Lists that I have only show a production period to March 1940, I have a MAROON coloured example [below] which I believe is the first colour introduced by MARPLES after deciding to transition from Black to a Red bodied handle. [Maybe a ‘Green‘ variety was never produced].
The shave was 10″ long and had a cutter width of 2.1/8″. The pressure bolt diameter was 9mm. and impinged directly on the back frame, not the cutter. [much like the M63 and M64 above]. The cutter was held directly captive by a Round headed slotted bolt.

The M55 Spokeshave was introduced at the beginning of MARPLES Spokeshave production c.March 1936 and lasted until at least 1944 and maybe later, as it is not shown in the 12/49 Brochure. This minimum 1944 date is established because I have a photo of an M55 with Red main body paint [Shown below] and this paint configuration was introduced around 1944 as a transition from a Black body paint. I have also seen an M55 with the Maroon body paint…c.1944. [Again, I have yet to see a ‘Green‘ variety of this shave]

Once again, I simply cannot explain why this presumably very early MARPLES transfer would turn up on a c.1944 Spokeshave. If you have any ideas, please email me!

The above tool is in my collection and denotes a pre-war edition.

Cutter Markings:
I have placed here drawings and photos of the Cutter stampings that I have seen on MARPLES Spokeshaves.   I have tried to identify a proposed cronological date of issue, but I may, as always, be wrong!  As I have previously stated, the markings, though present, may well not identify the dating of Spokeshaves, because the cutters may be so easily inter-changed and the Spokeshave bodies give us no clues as to production dates, apart from the paint colour.

I think that the above is the first mark to be seen on spokeshave cutters.

Note the rounded corners to the rectangle in this rare mark [above].

This mark above is around 1944 as it is seen on both Black, Red and Green handled shaves.  Note the Square corners to the rectangle.

This mark is seen on the shaves having either a Maroon cap or a Maroon body and on the early ‘Green’ shaves.  Square corners.

This mark above also occurs as 5mm x 12.5mm, which is earlier, and is seen on Black body shaves. Rounded corners.

Only seen on Red body shaves so far.
Rounded corners…..which I had thought was an earlier shape to the Square corner variety??

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