Build a Thoroughbred Shaving Horse
This simple, elegant shaving horse is a hybrid of two designs by two of Tim Manney’s mentors, Curtis Buchanan and Carl Swensson
Synopsis: This simple, elegant shaving horse is a hybrid of two designs by two of Tim Manney’s mentors. The base comes from chairmaker Curtis Buchanan’s horse, and the clamping mechanism is a simplified version of Carl Swensson’s. The result is a strong, simple-to-build horse that adjusts easily for different workpiece sizes and has great holding power and ergonomics.
The first woodworking I ever did was on a shaving horse. I had just turned 20, and a 12-year-old sat me down at a shaving horse with a drawknife and taught me how to make a spatula from a piece of red maple firewood. I was hooked. The simple elegance and intuitive feel of the horse and drawknife completely drew me in as shavings piled up around my feet. Since then I’ve had the good fortune to spend countless hours on shaving horses and to work extensively with other shaving horse aficionados.
My current horse is the offspring of great horses built by two of my mentors. The base comes from Curtis Buchanan’s horse, and the clamping mechanism is a simplified version of Carl Swensson’s. By crossbreeding these two steeds I got a strong, simple-to-build shaving horse that adjusts easily for different-size workpieces and has a very powerful grip. It looks similar to traditional dumbhead-style horses, which grip the work with a block-shaped head rather than a clamping bar, but it offers increased holding power and better ergonomics. For me, the horse starts with a single 16-ft. 2×10 of clear southern yellow pine. With thoughtful layout and a blemish-free plank, this is enough material for the entire horse. In New England, where I live, southern yellow pine can be hard to find. But I discovered that OSHA-approved walkboard planks for scaffolding are made of it, and a good construction-lumber…