Exploring New Skills: A Shaving Horse

This past week I’ve embarked on building a Shaving Horse, not something I expect to use every day like a razor but a specialty vice that is foot powered, designed to hold your work at a comfortable level so you can shave it into shape with a draw-knife or a spoke stave (pictured below).


The basic design is a bench where the craftsman can sit, thereby freeing up your feet so you can push the lever peddle to gain purchase on the work. As you push the foot bar away from you the head of the horse rocks toward you and bites down on the work. In many ways it is the early version of the current “super jaws” clamping system (picture below).


So after I build this thing what am I really going to do with it? Frankly the more modern “super jaws” system is much more flexible as it can hold a door for planning or car parts, bicycles, timber and tubing; whereas the shaving horse can only hold a stick or board pointed toward you. That’s actually the advantage, with the board pointed toward you a draw knife can be used to quickly carve the material into a round or curved shape. Useful if you want to make wood spoons or chair parts for a shaker chair. Most likely I’ll build this project for the experience and then take it down to the Heritage Museum for “Saturday in the Park” or “Yule of Yesteryear” and do some demonstrations of old style handiwork.

The plans I’m using come from this month’s Fine Woodworking magazine and are expanded upon by the designer, Tim Manney–Chairmaker, at his website http://timmanneychairmaker.blogspot.com/2013/09/

I hope my shaving horse looks as good as his.


One thought on “Exploring New Skills: A Shaving Horse

  1. watergirl says:

    For years we’ve pondered what this “tool bench” was actually designed & used for; (we uncovered one in an old farm shed)! Thank you for preserving & perpetuating traditional knowledge, tools & skills!!!


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