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Making and Using Tools - Shop Benches and Other Appliances


Building a Shave Horse by Scott Grandstaff

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Well, I needed a new shave horse.

I figured my first shave horse got me 26 years use.  I had built it in a ½ day with nothing but a chainsaw, a sack of nails and some boneyard scrap from the saw mill.

It was a good horse design and served me well and faithful.  I made up the wedge action table adjuster, but it later turned out that John Alexander had always used the wedge table too. 

And of course he pilfered the design off someone else who came before him.  Maybe 1000s somebody’s back though the generations.

One day I was talking with my buddy Leon and he was struggling with carving traditional bows.  He makes "self" bows (single piece carved and bent, mostly yew wood) and was previously trying to do it with a bandsaw and sanders.  He hadn’t ever even heard of a drawknife, much less a spokeshave, and heaven forbid a shave horse!!

This would not do!

So after some preliminary discussion and planning, he came over when he could, in 2 hour increments, and we put together a specialty horse for dedicated bow work.

Leon had some spare dimensional lumber and didn’t have time much in the way of decorative work on it, so we went with a plain and effective design.  With small parts being worked and often far from the jaw, a ladder design horse with an extended narrow tongue was chosen.

First was the horse itself.  Basically a sturdy sawhorse with a table.  The main beam was laminated 2X’s, legs fitted with simple angles, and the long angled table made up. 

The angle for the table was dependant on Leon being comfortable seated and the knife out ahead of him.  Small “comfort” pieces were added to the sides of the beam at the rear, to better fit his own rear.

Next the ladder was constructed.  The hardest part of the ladder was the crossbar/clamp at the top. 

He wanted to be angled some and I decided on double mortise and tenon construction.  Interesting joints to cut.

Learn how. Discover why. Build better.

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