A “Shaving Horse” from a dead tree
Ir was a beautiful weekend in April of 2011, and I decided to make a shaving horse. 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.
We had a dead white oak near our raised bed garden. You could tell from the bark on the trunk that the grain was probably not straight, but I hated to waste a chance to build a new shaving horse, I hadn’t had one in years.
I had a couple of axes needing new handles and a lot of small projects that a shaving horse would really help with.
The tree was felled and the bench was constructed using only non-powered hand tools. 5/8″ x 150′ Arbor Plex climbing ropes were attached to the tree and anchored to other nearby trees to direct the fall of the tree. Naturally, I had to have a little fun climbing while I was setting the ropes (DON’T LOOK YVETTE!)
The quickest method to get the ropes on high limbs is to use a throw bag, connect the larger ropes to the throw line and pull it over limbs.
A series of knots & hitches were used to limit and direct the travel of the trunk as it fell.
Figure 8 Knot
Modified Trucker’s Hitch
Proper tethering allowed for gentle, accurate placement of the trunk.
I used an ax and a bow saw to fell the tree and cut to length
You can see there was a lot of twist in the trunk in the pictures above.
I made dogwood gluts (wedges) and a Hickory mallet or maul to split the logs.
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 chisled 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 (that’s another story).
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.
The finished shaving horse, ready to go to work.