A Shaving Horse For Oliver

I recently finished up making a small light-weight shaving horse for our friend’s little boy Oliver.  Earlier this winter he was over for a visit when I was making spoons in the house, so I had my shaving horse sitting by the wood stove.  He wanted to know what it was, so I took out a spoke shave and let him (and his “Pa” as he likes to call him) get to work on whittling down a stick of kindling.  He really enjoyed his time, so I started thinking (not for the first time) about making a kids-sized shaving horse.  Design wise I wanted to try a short 4′ horse using spare dimensional lumber, drywall screws, glue, a sapling, a bolt with washers and a wingnut, and an old piece of threaded steel rod I had  used in a different shaving horse years ago.  Take a look:

Oliver's Shaving Horse
Oliver’s Shaving Horse

It’s made up of one 2x10x8′(half of it making up the 4′ bench, and the rest the top and ends of “the box” section), one 2x3x8′(half for the pivoting “stem” part to which the foot pedal and the clamping head connect, and half for the long support piece under the seat reducing flex of the narrow middle of the bench), about half of a 2x4x8′(the two blocks under the bench ends that the legs pass through, and the rest for the clamping head), and about half of a 1x10x8′ #2 pine(making up the two sides of “the box” section).  I used a scrap of 2×12 pt for the foot pedal, and 1″ hardwood dowel from a paint roller extension handle to peg underneath it and make the foot pedal adjustable up and down the “stem”.  I found the steel rod on which the “stem” pivots  at a garage sale years ago.  It passes all the way through the top of the 2×10 box, and the bent end makes it easy to remove (This could be replaced with any steel rod, threaded or not).  There is one 5″ bolt with two washers and a wingnut holding the head on, which is also adjustable up and down the stem so that the opening of the clamping space can be made bigger or smaller.

"the box" and head close up.
“the box” and head close up.

I cut everything to length on the chop saw.  The whole thing is held together with maybe thirty 2-1/2″ drywall screws and ample Gorilla Glue (which you can see sloppily foaming out here and there).  I used a few clamps to keep it together while I was cutting the bench curves with a jig saw and driving the screws.  I used my huge $5. 1940’s aluminum electric drill (no reverse) with a couple of nice sharp auger bits do drill the 1″ holes for the legs, and the various other sized holes for the foot pedal, the steel rod “axis”, the bolt hole in the adjustable head, and the holes to start the mortises in the top and bottom of the box for the stem to pass through, which I then cut out with the jig saw.  I also drilled and cut out the mortise in the foot pedal with the jig saw.

more of "the box" and head.
more of “the box” and head.

I made a little “tongue” out of the work surface with the jig saw, and used an extra piece of sapling to give it a little extra strength underneath(held in place with counter-sunk screws and a little glue).  With the legs off, this makes an awesome handle for carrying the horse from place to place.  The legs are Maple sapling, about 2″, but are shaved down to 1″ where they pass through the bench.  They simply drop out of the holes when you pick it up.  I used my shaving horse, Japanese saw, and draw knife to make the legs(but you can easily taper the ends with a knife or carefully with a hatchet if you don’t have a shaving horse.  Just drill a 1″ hole in a scrap of wood to keep handy and test fit until you whittle it down to the right size).

Looks like it will be a good design to riff off…super light but sturdy, fits in a hatchback, not too much store-bought involved…making it affordable (buy one 2x10x8′ and find the rest lying around!).  Easily done in 4 hours or less.

Have fun Oliver!!


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