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Shaving Horse Build-Along

 
gardener
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This idea came out of another thread: https://permies.com/t/170736/Custom-Drawknife

I will organize here a virtual build-along for creating homemade shaving horses (or similar implements such as spoon mules or other specialist devices in the same family).

This can be a an ongoing and perennial event. Feel free to join in whenever you can.

To participate, post a reply with the design or plan of the horse or mule you intend to create. Or simply quote another participant's plan and say "I'm building this one too!"

Some designs can qualify for the shaving horse badge bit, or perhaps even the advanced badge bit and even if they don't qualify for those badge bits if you have enough photos for documentation most will qualify for oddball points.

As you build your horse please post progress pictures and especially share troubles, difficulties, snags, and challenges you encounter along the way. Hopefully by sharing these we can learn from each other's failures as well as successes!

Reference posts:
https://permies.com/t/105872/Shaving-Horse-Plans
https://permies.com/t/28597/Shaving-horse-plans
https://permies.com/t/42647/Decided-shaving-horse
https://permies.com/t/8050/Lumber-horse
 
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Thanks for starting this thread L!  I forgot there was a BB for a nicer one.  Woo hoo!

I believe (based on very little research) that there are two general clamping styles.  Either a pivoting center piece with a fat head on it:


OR a pair of pivoting pieces with a cross piece that is the clamp:


I'm thinking the advantages to the fat head style are:
Easier to hold spindles and pegs and narrow pieces
Beefier construction and fewer joints to work loose

I'm thinking the advantages to the cross piece style are:
Only way to hold wide things like shingles
No need to bore a big hole in the bench

Am I missing any clamp styles or any key benefits/disadvantages to the two styles?
 
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Mike, looking at your photos, I wonder if one bench could have both clamps possible? Pull out the fat head and slip the cross-over clamp in place?  I'm sure that it really comes down to what sort of work you do most, and one or the other is just fine.

One advantage? of the fat head, is the ability to place the work in from the sides, rather than threading the work through. Which also gives better access to the sides, might be useful for shaping a paddle or a scoop?

I like the idea of three-legged one for a stable footing, but can't  tell if it would interfere with a fat-head treadle? Also no recent experience on a shave horse (40 !? years ago school field trip to Plymouth Plantation...) so can't know if it would be more tippy than the four-legged one even it rocked a bit.
 
Mike Haasl
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Yeah, not having to thread the work through below the cross piece would be nice...

I think I'd do 3 legs for stability.  Having the two on the end behind you should be pretty stable.  I saw a design once where someone found a forked branch and used that as 2 of the legs.  It was forked enough to give a wide enough base.

If it was always going to be used on a concrete floor I'd probably go for 4 legs...

This one's pretty:


Or here's a totally different option:
 
L. Johnson
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Continuing the discussion of the design advantages and disadvantages.

I built the dumbhead design. It is very fast to move your work piece in and out but you can never get it dead center to work on. But I read that it's preferred especially if you're catching very long things like bows or oars which would be a pain to slide into the holding space of the English style.

Generally I like three leg designs, but you have to give a very generous splay on the rear legs. I didn't and mine is quite tippy to the left and right. I think if you're building it out of 2x4s and planning to use it on a flat surface then 4 legs is fine.

Smaller design points to consider -
The length of the work support board past the holding point. If this is too long it gets in the way of the draw knife as the work piece material gets thin.

Portability - is it worth it for you to make your horse with knockdown joints? Will you always be using it in the same place or are you going to move it to use for green woodworking workshops.

I don't think it would be too easy to make an interchangeable style horse. If you look carefully this pivot point of the dumb head is on the top support board and the pivot point of the English style cross bar is on the seat board. That means the range of the lever is going to be different. You'd probably need to carefully plan out the full range of motion in both arrangements.

On the other hand combining features of a low workbench on the seat of the horse is pretty easy if you have the space to include them. I think there was a popular woodworking design that incorporated that. I'll see if I can find it.
 
L. Johnson
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I just came into a lot of green loquat wood and I have some free time the next two days.

I might make a green wood carving bench with one log, a compound mallet with another. I also need to make some gluts (wooden splitting wedges) and I have some persimmon that will probably work well for that.

If I can make it happen I'll post here. Though the carving bench is really only tangentially related... I want to give this thread some love.
 
L. Johnson
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This is close to the desired result. Image from google search/pinterest keywords "log greenwood carving bench"



Today I will be making a little jig to check the peg diameter and trying to make a few legs out of dry cedar I have, if I get that far.

I also need to sharpen up my tools first.
 
L. Johnson
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Preparatory steps done today.

I ordered a very fun little tool that is letting my use my larger auger bits. It's a hand-crank for a drill with a hex attachment and a butterfly screw. Unfortunately my hand drill and brace were not able to turn the larger bits like the 30cm and the 24cm. The new hand-crank is perfect. I highly recommend this if you have the bits already. It's probably a lot cheaper than buying an eye auger too, especially if you need several sizes.



I made a little jig to check the diameter of the larger drill bits I have - 3.0cm, 2.4cm, 2.0cm, and 1.5cm. This way I can trace the circumference onto my leg/peg material and check it as I shave it down on the shave horse. I spent a little time cleaning it up and chamfering the edges with a chisel and a little plane. It's still fairly rough and made out of cedar. I also just realized I wrote the mm measurement with "cm" so I need to go back and add the decimal.



I also re-learned a lesson about drilling. Let the drill center pierce the other side of the stock, then flip the stock and start the drill again on the back side. That way you can avoid the horrible tear-out that I got on the first two holes. The second two were flawless because I followed that method of starting the hole on both sides before finishing it.



Then I selected some cedar logs that were about the right length for legs and used the new drill size jig to check how many legs I could split out of each. I could have maybe gotten 4 legs with 24 mm pegs, but for strength I opted for 2 legs with 30 mm. Also I wasn't sure how these would split since some of them have some gnarly knots. The initial splits proved my doubt right, and I stuck with 2 legs from each instead of 4.











Tomorrow, if I have time I will choose my log for the bench top and mark it up for cutting. And if I'm really efficient I might even cut out the main holding area.
 
Mike Haasl
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Great tips L!  

Looking at your second to last picture, I can see that if building the dumbhead design, having it wide enough to hold a bigger leg/peg is important.  Looks like yours is barely holding on.
 
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L. Johnson wrote:This is close to the desired result.



I love what you are doing. I'm finding it really hard to get my hands on green wood. My wife has a cousin in Conneticut who has some trees that need clearing, so I hope we can get up to see them in a couple of months and then I can get the materials I need.

I was watching the Shrink Pot BB intro and like the bench he uses. For a quick look, here's a link to 10 minutes in when he braces the log he's working on.



What attracted me to this bench is the fact it's being used by a craftsman and it's one of the tools that he makes a living from. It looks similar to the design you found.
 
L. Johnson
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Mike Haasl wrote:Great tips L!  

Looking at your second to last picture, I can see that if building the dumbhead design, having it wide enough to hold a bigger leg/peg is important.  Looks like yours is barely holding on.



That might help in some cases, but it actually might have been even more in the way. If I can get a piece under the head with even a few mm to bite on I can keep it tight.

Actually it seems many dumbheads are carved to a point in the front, though I honestly can't imagine that working out well for me. I just left mine alone because I wanted to try using it on a variety of tasks before doing any modifications.

If anything I need to drill an even lower bolt hole to allow really big poles, or get them started with an axe. I was admiring Ben Law's side axe in a YouTube I saw last night...
 
L. Johnson
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Edward Norton wrote:

L. Johnson wrote:This is close to the desired result.



I love what you are doing. I'm finding it really hard to get my hands on green wood. My wife has a cousin in Conneticut who has some trees that need clearing, so I hope we can get up to see them in a couple of months and then I can get the materials I need.

I was watching the Shrink Pot BB intro and like the bench he uses. For a quick look, here's a link to 10 minutes in when he braces the log he's working on.



What attracted me to this bench is the fact it's being used by a craftsman and it's one of the tools that he makes a living from. It looks similar to the design you found.



I was looking at the shrink pot bb yesterday too. I'm trying to think of a way to carve the inside after drilling and gouging using the tools I have. That curved knife he has looks mighty special.

I too have not come into green wood of any reasonable size for a long time until now. And even these loquat logs are only 10 inches or so at the widest point. Just barely big enough for a carving bench top. I'm actually having trouble selecting a piece to work on...
 
L. Johnson
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I made a little progress and discovered a few points to remember.

First I selected the log to use. It was a difficult choice, but I opted for the straightest piece with the most diameter at center that I could find.

It's only 6.5 inches... Maybe enough for most of my work though. It's the best I've got anyway.



I set-up my saw-horses and tried a lot of different things to get it set for sawing. In the end I came up with this. I used F clamps to prevent the the log from moving as I sawed it. I also set the log so that I could pull my saw between the horses with good clearance with both hands. The difference between sawing with one hand and sawing with both hands is night and day. I used my left leg to stabilize the horses as I sawed.



If there's any advice I could give to someone starting where I was 5 years ago - Put enough time in figuring out your work-holding set-up to get it firmly, safely still while cutting. Hey, that's the whole point of this thread! Work-holding solutions for green woodworking. I think this is where a saw-buck is helpful. I don't have any yet, but it's on the project list.

Finally I ran a charcoal line down the sides after peeling them and scored it with an axe on both sides. I tried to split it, but the wood is so green and wet my wedges didn't want to bite into it. After re-reading a bit about splitting with bouncy wedges, it seems that I just need to smack them harder with a bigger mallet.





 
L. Johnson
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Today I drilled out holes for the legs and worked them in until they were firmly set. It needs a bit of adjustment and the work surface is not close to done.  It's pretty small, but probably big enough to do what I want. If not, it's a very good practice run.

This is also my first time doing dry tenon in green mortise. I'm interested to see just how tight they get. I mean, I can't get the legs out without a mallet anyway so I guess it doesn't matter...



 
Mike Haasl
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Yeah, I'm curious how tight the fit for the legs get once the log dries.  I pounded legs into a big slab of green wood once and they were tight as hell at that point.  I believe if both pieces were dry it would have been fine for many years.  
 
L. Johnson
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There... finished and tested it out with a chunk of old persimmon. Works well for smaller pieces! I'll need to expand the peg hole surface to do larger bowls, but this gives me another very useful work-holding apparatus for greenwood work. Next project is either a spoon mule or a pole lathe. The spoon mule fits this thread too, so that might be next.

My 20mm bit tip broke off in the wood! Crap. It might be usable if I file the remaining screw bit to a point, but I'm afraid of it getting off center. In the end I made the peg holes (dog holes?) 24mm. Seems reasonable.



Pegs were carved from dry persimmon. Wedges from dry cedar. I'll need to make bigger wedges for doing taller pieces.



I did my best to splay the legs a lot... and they still ended up being narrower than I hoped. I find it's really hard to drill into a round log at the appropriate angle... I need to reflect on this problem and work something out.
 
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