30 May 2013

Shaving horses

I have three projects in the line going stale and nothing to show for this month,  so a post about something else.
Reading Mike Abbott's Going with the grain I was introduced to his (traitor style) shaving horse  It's simple to make (a 4 hour effort here on the picture) and has three uses: splitting,  shaving  and usable as a chair-maker's workbench.  Now if I could find some green ash.

Focusing on the shaving horse I see two problems with his model.
1. It's big.  It's compact as it combines three functions,  but outside the green woodworking world it has not much use in a workshop and lacks the compactness of foldable models.

2. The side arms.  He favors two side arms what's not unusual in Albion, where the continental ones show only a central arm.  I can imagine that a central arm, leaving more open space, makes sliding and skewed  cuts easier, where with side arms there is a tendency to make only straight cuts (As seen from the sideline).  Here a cooper horse with central arm and a holdfast like head.

3. Do I need one? As Peter Follansbee writes their usage was not that common in the 17th century.  He proposes the parring ladder. Besides that a shaving horse is mainly for short work and even for short work there are alternatives.

Here a Swedish wheelwright standing at his workbench, making spokes with a drawknife.

Or clogmakers with a hinged drawknife, a stock knife.  Well that's maybe going too far,  but following the Swedish example a high narrow support on top of the workbench is maybe something to think about.

A last point is the inclination of the table.  Mike Abbott has a horizontal shaving horse table, what seems logical to me, although it is unusual.  Flat as I expect to pull towards my navel not my chest or throat. Or maybe even going downward like a parring ladder.  But then maybe the flat top is just there because he also uses it as a workbench.  I found this approach only in Peter Galbert Smarthead shavehorse,  with it's raised table.

Meanwhile my new drawknife Kirschen 4000-250 Zugmesser, gerade, mit 2 Holzheften 250 mm is on his way home.

A later find: Tim Manney 2x4 based shaving horse presentation,  very good.