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Shaving Horse #2: The Stock and the Base

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Blog entry by Tom posted 11-23-2020 06:38 PM 370 reads 1 time favorited 0 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: Going Green Part 2 of Shaving Horse series Part 3: Fitting the Ramp »

You need a fair amount of wood to build a shaving horse. It doesn’t matter too much how you get there, but I think you should target an 8 foot board that is at least 2” thick and about 9” wide. This will be enough for the bench and ramp sections. You can buy a plank from the lumber yard, a mill or split it from a log. It can be green, seasoned or dried wood. I am using green oak for my shaving horse, but you can probably use most any type of wood. If it doesn’t split, you will need to do more sawing.

I will use one of my 2” thick slabs for the bench and the ramp. I will use one of the pieces from the outside cut from the log for the clamp (dumbhead), legs and foot platform. I trim down the 2 inch slab with a circular saw and I get a nice 9” wide plank that is at least 2 inches thick. The chain saw mill really did a good job and kept an even thickness over the full length. It’s a nice board with only a couple knots.

I cut off a 30 inch long section for the ramp and that leaves about a 5 foot long section for the bench. Now that I have my bench plank which is the base of the shaving horse, I can lay out for the leg mortises. For a sturdy bench, I suggest that the mortises should be at least 1” diameter. 1-1/2” would be better. I have a 1-1/4” T-auger that I purchased several years ago (for no apparent reason!), so I will use that. The legs need to be splayed out to the sides and to the back and front. I was not sure about the angles, so I guessed. I laid out site lines at 45 degrees from the sides and set a bevel gauge to about 20 degrees. This worked out “ok”, but it should have been more splayed out, so I suggest you try 30-40 degrees. Or you can do like Roy and eyeball it.

The outside cut from the log has a thicker end where the trunk flared out for the base of the tree. I will cut out my clamp head and arm from this section about 33” long. The rest of that outside plank gets cut to 20” long sections to split out billets for the legs.

You can rough out the legs with an axe or you can use a drawknife in a vise to shape the legs about 2” in diameter. But I decided to turn them rough on the lathe, leaving flats and imperfections in keeping with the spirit of a rugged device. This allowed me to turn a fairly precise tenon to fit to the base. Sorry no pictures on the lathe, but it was not too exciting. I kept a snug fit with the green wood. I will wedge them later after the green wood decides what to do after drying.

Next I will prepare the ramp and riser. and shape the clamp.

Also, it is great to work outside this time of year in NJ. We also have pretty sunsets after a hard day of woodworking. :)

-- Tom



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