For quite I while now I have been thinking of getting myself a drawknife. Everytime I see a video of someone using one to quickly hog off material the spark is lit. Usually though, I talk myself out of it. “I don’t really need it…I can make do”. You know the conversation that takes place in your head when it comes to buying new tools. I think we all do it.
Now that I am taking on a few staked leg projects though, I can reasonably justify the need. Turning squares of oak into octagons and then tapering them entirely with a hand plane is a slow, laborious process. So I finally pulled the trigger. Actually, I pressed a few buttons on the computer, but you know what I mean. A few days later the big brown truck pulled up and delivered my new treasure.
This is the one I purchased from Traditional Woodworker, 9-1/2″ curved blade drawknife by Mueller. As soon As I pulled it out of the packaging, I headed to the shop and went to work on a piece of SYP that I mounted in the vise. As advertised, this thing hogs off wood with minimal effort and I was surprised at how delicate a cut I could make with it as well. What I didn’t like was how awkward it was to use it on a piece of wood mounted in the vise. The angles and heights were all wrong and, while it works, it is far from comfortable. Thus the shaving horse tangent.
A quick Google for shaving horse plans landed me at Greenwoodworking’s website and Jennie Alexander’s plans for an English style shaving horse. Pretty straightforward to build and not too much in the way of material. So back out to the shop for a rummage thru the off cut bin. I managed to root out enough material to build the horse. The only thing lacking was the hardware and a quick trip to the big box store solved that issue.
I’ve had a face lamination of SYP hanging around for several years. At one time it served as a makeshift bench when set on my trestle horses. Once I built a proper bench I no longer needed the lamination but couldn’t bear to get rid of it. Finally I have a use for it.
I ripped the lamination down to create the bench portion of the shaving horse. The legs are the rejects from a pallet timber that I had broken down for the legs on the Staked Stand project. These rejects have knots and some wonky grain in places, but should be fine for the shaving horse. Nothing on this horse is permanently mounted. So in the event of a failure, a pice can be remade. A chunk of red oak that I picked up somewhere will make the yoke and foot bar. The sides of the treadle frame are made up from maple that I found in the attic. Finally, the ramp is from yet another piece of SYP.
Like I said, the construction is straightforward. I had to tweak a few dimensions though, due to my leg material being about an inch shorter than required by the plan. The new drawknife was put to use to create a rough taper on the legs which was then refined with my Veritas tapered tenon cutter. The corresponding holes where cut into the bench and tapered to receive the legs. The only fussy bit on this build was creating the 1″ pegs on the ends of the yoke and foot bar. I have no lathe, so these were done with saw and chisel work.
Up on its feet for the first time.
Treadle parts ready for assembly.
I set an arbitrary goal of building this shaving horse in one afternoon. I usually don’t give much thought to how long it takes me to build something, but this seemed like a fun challenge for myself. While I did manage to create a functioning shaving horse in one afternoon, it is not quite done. I want to trim a little from the top of the treadle assembly, add a bit of leather to the yoke and ramp, I need to fabricate a proper wedge block for under the ramp and pretty-up the legs a little. This last bit will get me some practice with the drawknife before I tackle the legs on the Staked Side Tables. Now that I have a functioning shaving horse, I’ll just remove one leg at a time and shape it.
This is my first experience with a drawknife and shaving horse. I can see what all of the fuss is about. Very addictive.