MaFeSan shaving horse #3: Spoon mule - for shaving horse & workbench

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Blog entry by mafe posted 06-04-2019 05:04 PM 3736 reads 2 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: Details and more - the final knock down Part 3 of MaFeSan shaving horse series no next part

Spoon mule
for shaving horse & workbench

As promised; a spoon mule to mount on the MaFeSan shaving horse, or on your workbench, in the tail vice.

As the idea of this horse, was to be able to bring it out into nature, for green woodworking, I thought it would be cool to have a spoon mule option on it, so this is what this part of the blog is about.

For those who are not familiar with a spoon mule, it’s a device to hold the spoon or other small objects, while you work on them. You use your legs to provide the pressure on the jaws and like this, you have both hands free for your tools and a firm hold and support, for the work piece. (You will understand after reading the blog).

Again we start with some 2×4, that some neighbours had trashed.
Here clamping a piece to the shaving horse.

I just try as I go, so a piece hanging out the under side, for a later wedge.

Cut to desired hight and a little work surface put on top.

Half a circle for the front.

We got the head.

Since it was recycled lumber, I ran it through the thickness planer.

The top of the holder, got shoulders and a cut for hidden wedges.

Shoulders cleaned up.

Yup, we are there.
(I was also working on the dowel maker in the back ground, at the time).

Mortise on the work surface under side.

A mess…

With the wedges in place, the hidden tenon is ready.

Glue and then hammer in place.

Side supports for the holder is cut to size.

Testing until I was happy with the working hight.

Now the hole for the wedge, that will hold the spoon mule to the shaving horse, can be cut.

More mess…

The base of the hole slopes, the same angle as the wedge, for a tight fit and good hold.

The sides are simply screwed on.

Wedge in place.
(Almost fit…).

Making some wood plugs to hide screws on the work surface.

Cutting the back off.

We got matching plugs.

They are used to hide, two long screws, I drilled through the work surface and into the side supports, this for extra strength.

Starting on the legs, some 2×2 are cut to wedge shape on the table saw.

More wedging for the top part, that will become the holding jaws.

These are also cut.

Basically we have the legs now.

On the top of the work surface, the legs dimensions are marked up.

Also the legs final shape can be marked.

Again trying out as I go.

Clamping a backing plate to the work surface and drilling out.

Sawing the slope, that opens more towards the under side.

Cleaning up the sides.

Besides the length of the legs, it starts to look as a spoon mule.
(I made them too long on purpose, to get them just right).

Not too bad, but the head needs to be more open.

Easily done.

The legs will be held with some thin rod / thick wire, so now is the time to drill through the legs, I make several holes, to be able to use it, in different hights.

On one side I bend the rod and mark up for a lock in place thing…

Like this, it will not work it’s way out.

Shaped the head up a little and started testing.
(As you can see, I also put some dovels on the side of the shaving horse works surface, so the shaving horse legs, can be used to hold it in place, when used as a spoon mule).

Don’t remember why I took this picture…
Perhaps to show some of the draw knifes on the wall.

Three sizes of shims, to adjust the mouth opening.
They slide in and close up the hold.

You can imagine, once it’s pushed down, it will hang on the rod.

Then I cut a small shoulder on the legs, to add leather for a gentle grip.
(As you can see, I was struggling a wee bit when I drilled the holes).

Glued on.

That should do it.

Making a spoon.
(This was actually before I added the leather and where I found out I needed it).

I’m more than pleased, it’s soo much more easy, than to sit with it, in the hand.

Here mounted in the tail vice on the work bench.
Using my feet to push out for hold.

Now using the knees and enjoy to have both hands free, for working.
(I actually used so much pressure, that I broke the spoon knife…).

It takes almost no energy to hold the spoon, the leverage of the legs, do the work for you.

It will probably be used like this, most of the time in the work shop.

But when the horse is ready to ride, it is so wonderful to sit there.

A really fine working position and the feet relaxed on the ground.
(Why I wanted the legs as long as possible).

For me struggling with chronic neck pain, this two hand option is a winner.

And with a long handle spoon knife, leverage do all the heavy work for me.

That’s it!
Big smile.

Hope it can be to some inspiration, who knows, perhaps some spoons.

Best thoughts,


-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

12 comments so far

View dbray55's profile


46 posts in 687 days

#1 posted 06-04-2019 05:40 PM

Very nice Mafe. I love it

-- David in Palm Bay - retired and loving it!

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


19680 posts in 4552 days

#2 posted 06-04-2019 06:00 PM

Great idea.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View pottz's profile


11624 posts in 1861 days

#3 posted 06-04-2019 06:23 PM

another beautiful journey in the always say the comments make you smile,reading your blogs and seeing all the great pic’s makes me smile too.thanks mads. :^)

-- working with my hands is a joy,it gives me a sense of fulfillment,somthing so many seek and so few find.-SAM MALOOF.

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

5976 posts in 1459 days

#4 posted 06-04-2019 08:05 PM

Beautiful and useful, Mads! Thanks for the detailed description of the build.

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

25277 posts in 3982 days

#5 posted 06-04-2019 11:56 PM

WOW….............Great tutorial on that spoon mule!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

cheers, Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View lew's profile


13188 posts in 4632 days

#6 posted 06-05-2019 01:54 PM

You are an awesome teacher!

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View therealSteveN's profile


6419 posts in 1451 days

#7 posted 06-05-2019 10:46 PM

Sweet photo journey of you, making. You cannot put to fine a point on the importance of work holding to get good results. This allows control to the extent the work almost get’s itself done, and you have illustrated this journey as well as it could have been done.

Even better than my beloved video, unless you put signs in saying when to pay particular attention, each pic says what it says, and points out what part of the journey you felt needed illustration.

Awesome job.

You are an awesome teacher!

- lew


-- Think safe, be safe

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10938 posts in 4929 days

#8 posted 06-08-2019 04:56 AM

Great procedure…

Yep, it looks like you’re sitting down on the job! :)

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:

View Brit's profile


8179 posts in 3719 days

#9 posted 06-09-2019 08:15 AM

Very ingenious Mads. I love how you can also use it at your bench. Thank you!

-- Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

View mafe's profile


12609 posts in 3966 days

#10 posted 06-12-2019 07:45 PM

Hi guys,
I’m back from Rome.

A wonderful week, with my love and my camera – good food, wine, tobacco and beauty, where ever you look.

dbray55, thank you so much.
Topa, smiles here.
pottz, ahhhhhh, that’s the best you can tell me, thanks.
Dave, I honestly thought I made a mess of a blog, but I think I was wrong. :-D So happy here thanks.
Jim, big wonderful smile here. I hope some will use the blog for making their own mules.
Lew, I try to teach as I want to be teached, not too much detail, but plenty of inspiration. I worked some years as a teacher for constructing architects, was head of the creative line, it was great fun and I learned a lot about the young people and how to talk to the brain, instead of the memory. Smiles thanks.
therealSteveN, I almost can’t answer, thanks. Those were really nice words! My IMPORTANT notes were partly fun and partly because I thought someone acually might build it. ;-D I enjoy taking picture to illustrate, as much as I enjoy building, so I’m glad if they make it clear (who is the unreal Steven?).
Joe, and I still laugh. Thanks.
Brit, yes this might be one for your garden workshop. ;-) Thank you. A saw holder also perhaps… :-O
Best thoughts to you all,

Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View JeremyR's profile


12 posts in 2330 days

#11 posted 09-06-2020 08:35 PM

I’m trying to build this based on your pictures and I can’t figure out the size of the hole you put the clamps in. Could you help me out with that and the clamp dimensions please.

View mafe's profile


12609 posts in 3966 days

#12 posted 09-13-2020 08:55 AM

I am not at my workshop now, so I can’t measure it… Sorry.
But I might be able to help you through.
The legs are about 5 cm wide. cut to a taper in both ends, the taper starts 25-30 cm down, this is to make the leg opening big enough, to elevate out over the pony.
You don’t have to cut them to a taper in the long part, it’s just that they look more elegant and the strength is not needed out at the end by your feet and again you win a little room.
The top is app 2,2-2,4 cm (can be thinner with harder wood), the thickest part app 4-4,5cm, the end is app 2,5cm.
For the opening, I suggest that you do as I did, start by making it fit the legs mouth, when it’s app 2,5 cm up and then open it up more and more.
There are several things that are important, first of all that the are coming out over the sides of your seat, that your feet are not too open, when using them, but in a good triangle position, between the legs and your work space as this will give stability. Too wide and you will get back pain, to narrow and you will loose your stability.
Once it’s open, you can open it up a bit more and take in to consideration, that the wedges will make it possible to adjust, but don’t make it more open, that the biggest thing you will hold, as you then suffer stability.
Send me a PM if you still need the exact sizes, then I will write you once I’m back.
Happy build, really glad to hear my blog is being used, pls. send me a PM also if you post the project, so I can see your version.
Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

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