View Full Version : Shaving horse

Andy Mac
20th Sep 2005, 09:53 AM
Here's a shot of my latest shaving horse, using a different pattern than the previous one, which was a European-style "Dumbhead". This one has the moving jaw frame straddling the fixed jaw, instead of going through the centre. The beast is big and heavy, made from recycled hardwood and has a padded canvas seat. The fixed jaw is adjustable to allow for different thickness work, as opposed to the dumbhead, which has the adjustment holes on the moving jaw frame. The best feature is the moving jaw itself, with pivots on lathe-turned tenons, so it conforms to the shape of the workpiece. The option then exists to modify all 4 faces for different tasks: one I have chopped a "V" into, for better grip on sticks and branches.

20th Sep 2005, 11:06 AM
Nice one ! :D :D :D
I can vouch for the comfort and usability of this shaving horse. I had a 2 min try a couple of weeks back. Very easy to use and would be comfortable for prolonged use.
Tom :D

20th Sep 2005, 06:43 PM
...Here's a shot of my latest shaving horse....

I don't know about you but I shave in the bathroom with no animal life present :D

20th Sep 2005, 09:40 PM
Andy that looks like a great way to spend a couple of hours.

Watching peolpe use a shaving horse it looks almost meditative.
Tai Chi with wood.

Green Woodchips
20th Sep 2005, 10:35 PM
I built myself a shaving horse a few weeks ago. To make my shaving horse more portable, I just bought a cheap sawhorse with the folding legs, and used those for the legs on my horse (after shortening them with a hacksaw).

Now it all folds up nice and neat, and is a very stable little unit. Very fun to use, even though . I keep wondering what other applications could be found for it ... maybe a suitable surface for mortising, if the ramp is laid down flat?

Cheers -- and good on you for reviving interest in this simple but effective invention.

Green Woodchips

21st Sep 2005, 10:25 PM
I have looked at all the pic's and I still cant figure out how to strap a horse on that thing?

Andy Mac
21st Sep 2005, 11:55 PM
Hi Green Woodchips,
Good on you for that adaption of a sawhorse:D ! I've tried a couple of times to make a shaving horse with folding legs, using wood, and they never quite fold up properly, and always seem a bit wonky. The last couple have ignored the portability issue, and feel much better for it!
I take it you're into green stick stuff? What timber do you prefer? My favourites for green work are privet and cotoneaster, lovely exotic pest trees:eek:


Green Woodchips
22nd Sep 2005, 12:10 AM
Hi Andy.

If I'm truthful, I don't know very much about green woodworking at all. I made a shaving horse because it looked like fun, and I could see much potential use for it.

I'm intrigued by your two timber suggestions, and can readily obtain both. What types of work do you use these timbers for?

The timber I'm working with at the moment in a green state is what my dad calls 'Cypress Pine', but what I think Americans call 'Eastern Red Cedar' or 'Juniper'. In any case, it's a large conifer. My parents have a farm full of them, and they're getting old and are gradually blowing down in the storms.

I'm just starting to build my first stool from Jack Hill's chairmaking book using this timber. I'll be interested to see how it goes. I sawed up a little of it on Monday, sealed the ends with PVA, and will work on it over the coming weeks.

This horse is really nice and stable -- far better than I expected.

Cheers and look fwd to your reply,

Andy Mac
22nd Sep 2005, 12:46 AM
Green Woodchips,
I think I've got some idea of the tree you're talking about, and if its like most cypress the number of knots will cause havoc using a drawknife. Lots of slicing action to get through them. Sounds like the trees are large so maybe short sections between knots will provide timber for chair seats and backs?
Privet is easy stuff to work, and moderately strong, wheareas the cotineaster is very hard, especially when seasoned. Its a good strong stick for rustic furniture, and the bark peels easily when green. Privet is OK for furniture too, but I don't think its as good. Both of these can be selected with few branches/knots, and regrowth even better (copsing?) They're much nicer to work on the shaving horse than Eucalypts, which can be very unforgiving...wavy interlocking grain causing lots of hassles.

Green Woodchips
22nd Sep 2005, 09:55 AM
Thanks, Andy, for the tips on cotoneaster and privet. Duly noted.

The wood I'm working at the moment seems to be pretty knot-free, probably because the trees are so large, and I've cut right down into the heartwood. There are a few issues with grain changing direction, but it's working pretty nicely over all.

Now all I need to do is buy a drawknife! It takes forever to rip these down with spokeshaves ...


Andy Mac
22nd Sep 2005, 10:16 AM
Green woodchips,
Here's a chair made using my shaving horse. The frame timber is cotoneaster, with a back and seat of red cedar.
You need a drawknife or 3!!:D


Green Woodchips
22nd Sep 2005, 11:13 AM
Andy --

Wow! What a wicked looking chair! Very creative and imaginative!

I take your point with drawknives, though I will have to see how the budget handles it. I don't have the furnace facilities to make my own, although I wonder if an old file could be used to make one, if it were trimmed to shape, and a bolt welded to each end? Would it need to be retempered?

Cheers again,

Andy Mac
22nd Sep 2005, 11:21 AM
Avoid files for this one I reckon, although you can make tools from them. I have a set of woodturning tools, but you need to remove all sign of the teeth/grooves from the surface, or else they apparently form stress raisers (local weak spots). The steel has too high a carbon content for this use, and welding & tempering is difficult. Buy a short length of new, annealed leaf spring stock from a auto springworks, and cut, grind and weld that instead.
Good luck!

Green Woodchips
22nd Sep 2005, 11:34 AM
Thanks, mate.

I'll think about your suggestion there. What equipment (besides welder and grinder) do I need for this?

Just out of interest ... now that you have both British and Continental styles of shaving horse, which do you find most versatile and potent in its grip?


Andy Mac
22nd Sep 2005, 12:25 PM
Green W,

The welder and grinder will put bring it to shape, then you need some controlled heat to temper it. Without a forge or oxy-acet, the next best is one of those plumber's MAPP torches, about $120 for a kit. Watch out for refillable and non-refill bottles with them.
Regards the two types of shaving horses, its almost a case of horses for courses:o. The Continental one is quick to get work in and out of, although some bent stuff is awkward to sit in the jaw properly, being offset. The profile of the clamping edge is critical, sometimes a sharper edge will bite better, but consequently marrs the surface. The English pattern seems better once the work is in, but long stuff can be a real hassle to fit...you've got to get off your butt and kick it open and use 2 hands to feed the stick in. Also limited to width of board or stave, whereas the European has no limit, they push under the jaw as far as the central moving bit and gripped over the whole jaw. This is only a factor if you intend to shave flat stuff, like a cooper. I just roughed out some boards before carving, and they fitted into my new horse no worries, and easier to work than if I'd tried the bench vice, even edge-on.
I hope this helps.

Green Woodchips
22nd Sep 2005, 01:05 PM
Thanks again for all the info. Much as I would like to invest in a MAPP torch, I don't think I could justify the expense at the moment. Think of all the ready-made drawknives I could buy for that money! Although there's not the satisfaction of having built one yourself ... and I guess a MAPP torch would be useful for other toolmaking applications.

I'll meditate on it.


Andy Mac
22nd Sep 2005, 02:08 PM
Green W,
Yep, about 1 1/2 new drawknives by my reckoning!!:D Try eBay or the fleamarkets.

12th Oct 2005, 06:20 PM
Andy, would you recomend this style of shaving horse as the most functional? did you draw up the plans yourself? I'd like to build one, but have never even seen one in the flesh. thanks. :)

Green Woodchips
20th Nov 2005, 02:51 PM
G'day Ryan.

I know I'm not Andy Mac but I can tell you where you can get some really good detailed plans for a shaving horse.


There's a link just below the diagram that you can click on to enlarge it.

It's sooo easy to make ... a bit of scrap timber, and some bolts ... and years of fun will be created in a few short hours.

Mine is based very closely on that design (see page 1 of this post), with the exception of the legs, where I got a little creative. I've since added a [necessary!] seat as well, graciously donated by the last council clean-up in our area (don't know if you have those in Bellingham).

Regards from a pokey little town called Sydney,

20th Nov 2005, 04:11 PM
Thanks green! Andy replied by PM earlier, and has drawings for his shaving horse on his website. yours looks good too. I like the look of the plans in the lee valley catalogue and may make that one. thanks again.

22nd Jun 2007, 07:21 PM
Hi Andy.

My parents have a farm full of them, and they're getting old and are gradually blowing down in the storms.

GWThat can happen to old folks. You have to nail their feet to the barn floor when it gets too windy....:U

Green Woodchips
6th Jul 2007, 09:50 PM
Nice one, Sheddy. I suppose I was asking for it.