Starting All Over Again - Setting Up Shop #4: The Shaving Horse

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Blog entry by LumberGuy posted 06-13-2011 10:17 PM 4259 reads 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 3: Lumber From a Dead Tree Part 4 of Starting All Over Again - Setting Up Shop series no next part

The shaving horse is a great manual vice for holding a piece you are working on. It is a sort of bench with a foot operated “jaw”. You sit on the bench and press on the pedal to hold your piece securely, then use a draw knife or spokeshave to shape the wood. It holds the piece firmly and gives you a lot of control. It’s great for making furniture legs, tool handles, wooden spoons and anything else where a lot of wood has to be taken off with draw knives and spokeshaves.
I haven’t had a shaving horse in years. I have a couple of axes needing new handles and have a lot of small projects that a shaving horse really helps with. The bench itself is a slab of wood split from the trunk and is about as long as I am tall.

I cut a length of wood from the other slab for the work surface and marked where the dumbhead would pivot. A second, shorter piece was cut to make the upright support. Four holes were drilled at the marked corners, and the waste was chiseled out.

The dumbhead was made from a piece of white oak from the same tree the mallet was made from. Saw cuts were made into the log, and the waste was split away with the dogwood wedges. This is where a froe would really come in handy.

The bench was marked with the approximate opening for the dumbhead to travel. Again, holes were drilled at marked corners and the waste was chiseled out.

Holes were drilled for the legs, which were simply small pieces of tree trunks cut to length.

Holes were drilled for the work surface and upright, and everything was fastened together with pegs made from scrap wood. The whole thing looked really awkward and unworkable at first.

A lot of wood was split off to even out the twist in the bench.

A pedal was made from left over scraps. The small pieces fastened across the ends are to limit splitting potential. A hole was drilled through the bottom of the dumbhead, the pedal was slid onto it and a peg was inserted to keep the pedal from falling off.

Finally, the shaving horse was ready for work!

This is a great tool and an excellent use for our dead tree.

-- Reid, Georgia,

4 comments so far

View Bertha's profile


13521 posts in 2659 days

#1 posted 06-13-2011 10:27 PM

I can tell that I would like you in real life;) What a way to honor your tree. I love it.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View harrywho's profile


119 posts in 3198 days

#2 posted 06-14-2011 12:20 AM


-- Harry, Indiana

View WayneC's profile


13753 posts in 4063 days

#3 posted 06-14-2011 02:07 AM

Very Interesting. Frank would love this….

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View StevenAntonucci's profile


355 posts in 3904 days

#4 posted 06-14-2011 02:29 PM

Started mine a year ago, and now I am inspired to turn my bench into a shavehorse!

-- Steven

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