One of my recent students, Aivars Krasts, mentioned while we were corresponding about his class that he had bought a spokeshave directly from Brian Boggs many years ago. One of first things I did when he arrived was ask to see the spokeshave. It is stunning, to say the least, in pristine, never-used condition. Based on Brian’s recollection of when he was making and selling these shaves Aivars probably bought it in the early 90s. Over the course of the six-day class I kept hinting that I’d like to buy the shave. Finally, on day five, I made Aivars an offer he couldn’t (and didn’t) refuse, so now I am the proud owner of an original, hand-made Boggs spokeshave.
Here’s the front view of the shave.
And a view from the back.
I asked Brian if he could remember when he made shaves like these and if he made them himself. This is what he had to say:
“I farmed out the casting and basic machining of the body, then I hand polished the outside, hand filed the frog, and hand worked the cap. The blade needed a lot of work, too, which I did in my shop. At that time I did not have an electric grinder so I ground them on my hand cranked grinder and hand flattened the blades. That would have been about 1990 as I was working out of my home shop in Berea, KY, a few years before I built the new one in 1994. I made a couple hundred of these before selling the rights to Veritas in about 1992 or 1993. I was tuning them up very well, so those that are out there and well-maintained are gems. I’d buy them all back in a heart beat if I could.”
You can see Brian talking about the development of his spokeshaves on the DVD by Lie-Nielsen, Drawknives, Spokeshaves and Travishers: A Chairmaker’s Tool Kit available here.
Here’s the shave unassembled.
And finally, here is Aivars with the shave.
One of the things that I have to keep in mind when teaching how to build a Boggs chair is that, for many people, this has been something they have been dreaming about for many years. Aivars bought this shave more than 20 years ago with aspirations of building a chair. It is only now, in my class, that he is finally able to fulfill that dream. These kind of stories remind me how much people have invested in learning to build one of Brian’s beautiful chairs, and inspire me to make the class experience live up to, and exceed, their expectations.