According to the statistics that WordPress compiles for this blog, the shaving horse entry I did when I first started is still the most-viewed posting I have ever done (2,627 views). Must be a lot of people who want to know about shaving horses.
Having some hickory handles to make, I decided it was finally time to fix the shaving horse. It wasn’t broken, just a bit run-down. Once it was my primary work surface; but now I only use it sparingly. But when I have drawknife work, it’s the way to go.
I have seen lots of discussion about the English style horse that I learned from Jennie Alexander versus the German style horse that I know from Drew Langsner’s examples. Both work fine. Some say the clamping power of the English example is limited – I think this is silly, really. Some English versions I have seen stink, principally because they have virtually no means to adjust the work surface, and that is key. Many years ago, Alexander improved the shaving horse first presented in the book Make a Chair from a Tree; and I then copied that new version. Plans and details can be found on www.greenwoodworking.com http://www.greenwoodworking.com/ShavingHorsePlans
I needed new front legs for mine this week, the old ones sagged a bit, and the treadle scraped on the floor. So I took to setting the front feet on a block of wood; but it really called for a re-working. So I finally did it. While I was at it, I fixed a few other things at the same time.
One repair was the wedge that I use to attach the pivot block. It had busted, so I made a new wedge. I then tweaked that block too, based on a suggestion Alexander made when I first showed this shaving horse on the very first post on this blog back in 2008.
Here’s the the notched work surface, the pivot block it fits on, and its wedge.
The real benefit to this type of shaving horse is the adjustable height to the work surface. The pivot block fits through a mortise in the bench; the work surface slips over the squared head of that block, and is hinged with a wooden pin.
The work surface is adjusted by slipping the wooden block/shim under the work surface, and it moves up, slide the block back towards you & it drops down to accommodate thicker stock. So the trick is to keep the work surface at a height so that you need to only shove your foot a little bit to apply the pressure to hold things tight. If you have to extend your leg further, the height needs adjusting. Notice in these photos that my leg is in about the same position in both, but the thickness of the stock is quite different. Simple. Here’s a few more pictures.
It’s really important to learn to slice with the drawknife as well. The cuts are not just pulled straight towards you; I start with the knife all the way to one side, and as I bring it to me, I slide it sideways too. This way, I get a slicing action, and also use the entire length of the blade. Here’s the beginning and ending of one slice.
Hopefully this helps some. If the workpiece slips a lot, just wet the work surface of the shaving horse. Or fix a strip of inner tube rubber to one face of the crossbar at the top. I have never done the latter, and rarely have done the former. But they work.