My $15.00 Shaving Horse
I always liked the idea of having a shaving horse. A few years back I built a set of windsor dining chairs and shaved the spindles with my draw knife and spokeshaves. Back then I didn’t have a shaving horse so I ended up using my woodworking vise to get the job done. While the vise worked, I knew that using a shaving horse would be a lot more comfortable and a lot more fun. I’ve seen shaving horses for sale on different websites but the problem was that they were over $500 a piece. I knew that wasn’t going to fly so I had to make my own.
Then one day I ran across an article Brian Boggs did for Fine Woodworking. The shaving horse he made was simple and straight forward to make. Right then I knew I had my plans. The one problem that I saw was that he used 2″ thick material to make his. I wasn’t about to splurge big money on 2″ thick ash or maple so I decided to make mine out of good ole southern yellow pine.
I went to Lowes and picked out two pieces of 2x10x8’s that were as clean as possible without any knots. Total cost was $14.73. While Fine Woodworking showed “plans” for the horse, they didn’t go into great detail about how to actually build the horse and a lot of detailed measurements weren’t even given. So I just eyeballed where I thought edges should be and built the horse as close as possible to Brian’s. (For a new, full set of shave horse plans, see the link below.)
Building the horse wasn’t complicated at all and it only took me a weekend to make. I milled the body out, shaped the back legs and made an extra long front leg. The nice thing about using a 2×10 is that you can cut both back legs out of one piece that’s 21″long. Once the back legs were installed, I leveled them with a compass and shaped the feet so they would sit flat on the floor. Then I took the front leg and leveled the horse, marked the top of the leg and trimmed it flushed.
The only caveat of using 1 1/2″ stock as opposed to full 2″ stock is that the head becomes narrower. Brian’s bench head is 5 1/2″ wide due to the fact that he had three 2″ wide boards glued together. My bench head could only be 4 1/4″ wide due to three 1 1/2″ pieces glued together. Fortunately I don’t think that’s a big concern due to the fact that mostly what I’ll be shaving are spindles.
The one thing I did differently from the plan was Brian used a bicycle tire tube to act as a spring for the key. I didn’t have an old tube lying around and didn’t feel like buying a new one so I ended up using a big fat rubber band instead. While it works, I’m sure the tire tube would work much better since it would have more spring to it.
I also just shaped the seat using a chair shave and spoke shave then sanded it smooth with a random orbital sander. Brian wrapped his with leather which gives his horse a real nice look. I did however glue a piece of leather onto one side of the hold down bar so that the horse would grip the stock better.
All in all I’m very happy the way the horse turned out and I can even take it apart for storage or to travel with. Now I just need to find me some fresh cut logs to make a chair.
For a full set of plans to build a shave horse from inexpensive pine, check out this article by Tim Manney.
Find more about Shaving horses in FineWoodworking.com:
Two pieces of 2x10x8's and Brian Boggs plans
Body of the shaving horse is cut from one of the 2 x 10's
Both back legs can be cut from one piece that is 21"long.
I scribed around each of the back leg to make the leg sit flat on the ground
I level the horse and mark the length of the front leg.
My head is 1 1/2" narrower than Brian's due to the fact I was using 1 1/2" stock.
Seat was scuplted with a chair shave and spoke shaves.