Shaving horse project

It’s been quite a while since I last put finger(s) to key pad. I’ve been so busy in other areas that this has taken a back seat. Anyway I now have some progress to report on the shaving horse I started some time back.

I have wanted to make a shaving horse since I came across this curious tool when I did a study on coopering (making barrels) when  was at the London College of Furniture nearly 40 years ago, Oh boy it can’t be that long ago can it?   There is quite a resurgence with the old skills & green timber working now & I have seen quite a few about at various shows & craft fairs.

It took a while to sort out how the shaving horse should look. There are many ideas of what & how to make them. Traditional & alternative styles, so what to make it with & what shape it should be with what timber I had lying around in my workshop. In the end, like a lot of designers, I amalgamated the ideas & threw in a few of my own as I was going along. That’s what I love about woodwork, I have learnt the basics & then put together a design that seems to work for me. Then review and change as necessary if needed.

So I found a lump of timber (6×2) I had been using around the garden to push the wheelbarrow up when I built a raised flowerbed. I had rescued it from the garden last year & put it back in the workshop when I found it had another purpose. Covered in caked on mud, I started to scrape it clean & marked out the mortice positions & started to cut them out. I couldn’t believe how tough it was. I had to sharpen my chisel quite soon after working on it & then again!! It turned out the chisel was a cheap one I bought from a DIY store just before I did a show on QVC just to show how cheap chisels are not sharp & nor are they square. What I didn’t appreciate was that they are made of soft OR maybe not properly tempered steel. Anyway back to the main story. I then used my old Marples 1″ chisel that I bought while at college & what a difference. It sliced through the timber like a hot knife through butter. What was this timber I thought. It turned out to be a piece of Maple I had left over from  kitchen I had made for a customer about 12 years ago, (“see I told you it would come in handy”).

I then found an oak board that I sliced down to 2×2 for the legs. I thought 3 legs as this is so much easier to balance on uneven ground. The legs fit into the mortices & are held in place by folding wedges, I thought this would make it easy to assemble & take apart.

The next part took me some time to decide what to do & how. Where the timber to be worked is clamped against, usually a slope, sometimes fixed.


I decided to have a movable wedge so that I can clamp different thickness’s. The picture shown on the left has the wood splitting axe clamped in it with the new handle a fashioned for it from some of the yew from my hedge.




This next picture shows a different view of the same. I just noticed the shavings left on the horse. I didn’t shape the handle in the axe by the way, I’m just showing the finished job. It’s got a great balance, though I say it myself & the fresh yew feels great to hold.

Now to find some plans for a pole lathe so I can make the chair I have always wanted to make

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