A lmost anything can spark an idea, and some of the best designs come from the necessity of using what you have to create what you need. Veteran chairmaker Brian Boggs understands this concept better than most, because the chair he was interested in creating 35 years ago required that he first build a shaving horse. For the uninitiated, a shaving horse is a blend of work bench and vice that gives you the control and leverage needed to smooth pieces of wood with ease and consistency. It may look simple, but a well-built shaving horse is a precise piece of equipment customized for individual use. The horse worked, but behaved more like a stubborn mule than the thoroughbreds Brian would eventually design. After the shaving horse was ready, Brian visited a logger who lived near him to see if he could buy white oak logs like those John Alexander used in his book.
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We may receive a commission when you use our affiliate links. However, this does not impact our recommendations. It has a pungent odor and soft texture that make it all the more pleasurable to handle.
Simple utilitarian items, such as chairs, benches, rakes and so on, have long been made from green wood. All you need are a few basic tools and one essential device for holding the work: a shaving horse. Drew has been an inspiring instructor of the craft for over thirty years, and runs Country Workshops, a school in North Carolina see Country Workshops, below. Tom has created an elegant design. I took a class from Brian Boggs, the well-known chairmaker from Berea, Kentucky, and he had brought along his own shaving horse.
It was much better than mine. Drew suggested a futher change: use a treadle instead of the traditional cross bar for applying foot pressure. Over the years, Tom has built more than horses and streamlined their production. Tom has graciously allowed us to publish his design. A shaving horse is a workbench, vise and chair all rolled into one. The design of this shaving horse is rather unusual, mixing traditional elements and modern engineering.
Then, raise the work support up to the clamping jaw, which is free to rotate. The work support will click into one of eight different height positions, to accommodate thick or thin work. To clamp your workpiece, push the treadle forward with your foot. This swings the lever arms, squeezing the clamping jaw against the workpiece. All that sounds quite complicated, but this shaving horse is as easy to operate as stepping on the brake in your car.
It only takes a few seconds to release the clamping pressure on a workpiece, reposition it, and go back to making those glorious, huge curls. Click any image to view a larger version. You can make this shaving horse out of any strong wood, such as oak, ash, hard maple or Douglas fir. L, below. Tom selects clear, straight-grained stock for maximum strength. These pieces take a lot of stress, so he uses hard maple for the pivot piece K and sycamore for the ratchet F.
Baltic birch plywood for the work support Q , seat R , treadle S and treadle cleat T. As with any project, parts are easier to mill and join if the wood is flat and straight.
Run these pieces through a planer or drum sander before making any further cuts. Lay out and cut all the solid-wood pieces to size. The back legs C require special attention. Make both legs from one blank Photo 2.
On your miter saw, tilt the blade to 15 degrees and rotate the table to 15 degrees Fig. Make three cuts at this setting to obtain both legs. Stand both of the legs together and orient them so they make a matched pair Photo 3.
Draw the wedge all around the left leg, as shown in Fig. D, then draw the right leg as a mirror image. Saw the legs Photo 4.
Glue the pieces to the opposite sides of the legs they came from Photo 5. To prevent the pieces from slipping when you clamp, nail some short brads into one piece and clip off their heads near the surface. Press the pieces together by hand, to drive in the brads, before applying clamps. Temporarily screw the two rails A together.
Without these holes, the bolts will be too short to fully thread through the nuts although you could use longer bolts and skip the washer holes. Lay out these washer holes on both rails and drill them before drilling the smaller dia. Separate the rails, then clamp each back leg to the appropriate rail and drill through the leg, using the holes in the rail as a guide Photo 7.
Use the same method to drill holes through the rear spacer M and front leg. Temporarily assemble the horse and test the fit of the backup bar H between the rails. Glue the backup together H, J, Fig. F , clamp it to one rail, and drill the dowel holes through it. Support the rails with boxes or blocks and assemble the rear end of the horse.
Install the backup Photo 8. Make the pivot K and Fig. Drill its hole using the drill press. The pivot is spring-loaded with an elastic shock or bungee cord so that it will automatically tip forward into the ratchets Photo 9.
Attach a 6-in. Place the pivot between the rails and pound in the dowel on which it rotates. Clamp the pivot in a horizontal position. Grip the free end of the cord and stretch it back underneath the pivot an extra inch or so to some point on the underside of one rail.
Mark the point, then release the cord and remove the dowel and pivot. Fasten the other end of the cord to the rail, then re-install the pivot. Make sure the pivot rotates easily; you may have to sand the middle of its dowel to achieve the proper fit.
Drill holes in the levers D and notch their bottom ends to receive the treadle support N. Chamfer all four sides of both levers. Glue a piece of thick leather to one side of the rotating jaw to help it grip a workpiece. The rotating jaw may be placed in one of three positions; install it in the upper position for now. You may move it later, as needed, without taking the horse apart. The treadle S slides in between the treadle support N and the treadle cleats T.
To fasten the treadle in place, just use a loose-fitting duplex head nail in a pre-drilled hole or a screw Fig. This arrangement makes the treadle easy to remove. Bolt together the lever arm assembly. There are two washers that act as spacers between the lever arms and the backup. To install these washers, tape them to the inside faces of the lever arm assembly. Install the bolt through the levers and backup, then remove the tape. Glue together the ratchet bar E and ratchet F.
It should easily slide up and down. Lay out the ratchets Fig. G and cut them on the bandsaw Photo Screw and glue the ratchet cheeks G to the ratchet bar. Glue and screw the lower part of the work support to this assembly. Saw a v-shaped notch in the upper half of the work support, then glue and screw it to the lower half. The notch will help hold rounded workpieces. To install the work support, tilt the lever arm assembly forward. When you release the pivot, it will spring into one of the ratchets and secure the work support in position.
Build the seat using plywood, foam rubber and leather or other durable upholstery material. These plans are easy to modify to suit your needs or style of work. The seat is about in. Tom Donahey uses bolts and dowels to fasten together the major parts of the horse, which allows the user to take it apart for storage, transportation, modification or maintenance. Alternatively, you could glue the parts together for a classier look, but that would limit your options for making modifications.
All of the parts for this shaving horse can be cut from southern yellow pine construction lumber. Cut both back legs from one long blank. Adjust your miter saw to a compound angle, then place the blank to the left of the blade and cut the right end.
Slide the piece over to cut the middle, then cut the left end. Stand the two back legs together as a mating pair, then lay out the same cut on each leg, going in opposite directions. Turn over the legs and bandsaw them. This is a simple, straight cut, with the table set at 90 degrees. It looks odd from this angle because the end of the leg is a compound miter.
The main body of the shaving horse is composed of two rails running side-by-side. Temporarily screw these boards together, then drill holes for the leg-mounting bolts and other parts. Separate the boards , then use the holes as guides. Drill through the rails and into the legs to complete the leg-mounting holes.
Boggs Shaving Horse Plans
We may receive a commission when you use our affiliate links. However, this does not impact our recommendations. It has a pungent odor and soft texture that make it all the more pleasurable to handle. Simple utilitarian items, such as chairs, benches, rakes and so on, have long been made from green wood. All you need are a few basic tools and one essential device for holding the work: a shaving horse. Drew has been an inspiring instructor of the craft for over thirty years, and runs Country Workshops, a school in North Carolina see Country Workshops, below. Tom has created an elegant design.
AW Extra – Hybrid Shaving Horse
Click here to read the story behind the design. Lower Jaw The new lower jaw adjustment post replaces the fixed angled lower jaw with something much more versatile and capable. Now the ratchet post is split yielding a front ratchet post and back riser post that can shift positions allowing the lower jaw to adjust from 18 degrees to dead level. Ratchet Key The ratchet key is now held in engaged by two steel torsion springs for a lifetime of snappy action.