Building an Improved Shavehorse
Recently I decided to give my son, a bowyer, my old shavehorse and build a new one with a few improvements.
There are basically two styles of shavehorse, the “blockhead” or German (Swiss) and the “bodger’s” or English style. The English style is a little lighter, affording the user a little more portability.
Most shavehorses are fitted with legs that are driven into tapered holes in the seat plank. Legs usually have both rake and splay. A simple way of boring the initial holes is to use a shopmade angle guide, once the “resultant” angle has been determined.
The next step is to use a tapered reamer to create the tapered hole or socket that the legs will be fitted into. Using a tapered reamer can be tricky when rake and splay are involved. The reamer I use is one made from a plan on Jennie Alexander’s website, greenwoodworking.com. However, it does have one significant difference in that the first few inches of the reamer are cylindrical and designed to fit into a 1″ hole. This means that this particular reamer cannot be used to ream a hole smaller than 1″, but it does help in maintaining the rake and splay.
Okay, so after the ordeal with the reamer, the rest is pretty straightforward.
Well first, those of you who have been reading this blog for any time will know that the above picture was not taken in my shop. But, rest assured, this is my new shavehorse (although, if asked, it may prefer it new surroundings). Anyway, the clamp arms are 1 1/8″ x 2″ ash. The clamp head is 3″ x 3″ ash with a 3/8″ wide V-groove on one surface and a 1/2″ V-groove on the opposing surface. The are two positions for the clamphead on the clamp arms. The footpeg/spreader is one piece made from hickory. The ramp board’s position is supported by a pegboard that has been drilled with two rows of 1/2″ dia holes spaced 1″ apart. A simple turned peg with a bit of a handle secures the pegboard. A piece of 1/2″ brass or steel rod would work just as well. The ramp board assembly is held in place with a wooden wedge. The lignum vitae stop in the middle of the ramp board is used to keep longer workpieces from meandering to and from when you’re cutting chamfers or rounding edges. The rear legs are 1″ longer than the front. This allows the user to benefit from his or her own bodyweight (and helps to keep one from sliding backward into potential catastrophe). The overall length of the seat plank is approximately 56″. It may seem somewhat long to most first time users, but the benefit of the long plank becomes immediately recognized when you start working on something like the backpost of a chair, a bow or a canoe paddle.
Note the black fasteners. My buddy, Les, explained to me that all you need to do is wire brush the most common, plated nuts and bolts that you can get your hands on, then paint them up with cold gun bluing. Costs about $7.00 at Bass-Pro, Cabela’s, etc. Hats off to Lester. I’ll tell you, I learn something new everytime I turn around. Who says an old dog can’t learn new tricks?