I know some people use a spokeshave to shape their necks, and I’m about to get one because my old Dremel-and-file method isn’t working for me anymore, and anyway I don’t want to get tennis elbow again if I can possibly help it, so I’ve got a Q maybe some of you can A:
Spokeshave: do I get a flat or curved blade, or does it even matter that much? There seems to be about a $20 price difference between the two, so if I can get away with the less-expensive option, I’d rather.
I have a straight blade spoke shave, but I doubt that it matters if it is straight or rounded. Mostly it seems to be a matter of developing a technique for using the tool. It will remove a lot of material in a hurry and leave a very course (choppy) surface until you get a feel for both the tool and the direction of the wood grain.
It is definitely worth picking up and learning to use. You can produce a nicely rounded neck in a short time once you get the knack.
My favorite neck shaping tool is the Y handled vegetable peeler. I have tried a few brands from a $2 one from Kmart to the Thai made Kiwi brand to a fancier looking metal handled one from Ikea. They all handle a little bit differently but all do the job.
Go for a flat blade, and get a decent quality tool - a used Stanley or Record is your best bet rather than brand new no-name Chinese one. Don't expect a new one to cut well straight out of the box - the blade will most likely need sharpening and you need it adjust so that it is only taking a very thin shaving. The Stanley 151 pattern has two thumbwheels which make adjusting the blade easy. There are 3 main styles of spokeshave - straight (flat) , round (concave) and curved (convex) base - stick to the flat base one.
Here's how I carve my necks - the spokeshave work starts at around 6min 50seconds
Yes chickenbone, good advice. Cheap tools are just as such- cheap & no good for any kind of longevity & lack finesse