Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Shaving Horse - First Edition

After 10 paddles carved on the balcony furniture or picnic tables at the cottage, I decided it was time to build a shaving horse. This would essentially allow for the hobby to be completed indoors during the winter months in my condo locker room. I first used a shaving horse at the Canadian Canoe Museum's Preserving Skills workroom with heavy hardwood stations built by Don Duncan. They were great to work on, but I knew that for my needs, a smaller version would suffice.

The priorities for me were:
  1. Portability - it needed to be able disassemble / fold for minimum space & storage into my tight locker room
  2. Lightness - weight was an issue for transportation / use
  3. Cheap - wanted to re-use waste wood for ecological and cost reasons.

So I set up planning a design after checking out sample pics on the web. The ones at the Canoe Museum were "Dumbhead" style that worked on a lever built into the centre of the bench as opposed to "English" style that had a frame style vise which would be more cumbersome while working on a long paddle. Furthermore, most designs I saw required permanent fastening with wood screws that prevented any form of foldability. This wasn't feasible in my limited workspace. But while contemplating ideas to get around this dilemma, I came across a large industrial door hinge left over from another project when looking for tools & scrap materials for the build. The hinge would be the answer I was looking for.

As luck would have it, I had purchased some plastic sawhorse brackets from Home Depot earlier in the month to make a portable sawhorse for use on the balcony, but then scored a great deal at Canadian Tire for 2 folding metal sawhorse ($8.99 each - normally $34.99!). So the brackets sat unused until deciding to use them for the horse. With some old 2x6 and 2x4s, the industrial door hinge, and the brackets I ended up constructing the basic design.

For the anvil, I had some 1x3 and pressure treated lumber scraps that I screwed together. The base was made with some more scraps joined together to form a foot pedal that attached with some 3 inch carriage bolts found in a bucket full of old nails & screws. To fit the completed vise on the horse, I ended up drilling 4 pilot holes in the 2x6 and cutting out a rectangular slot with a coping saw.

Once disassemble and packed, the whole horse takes up little space. The parts fit nicely on the frame and with a couple of velcro straps, everything can be easily transported. Assembly is easy too. The anvil is held in place with a 6" carriage bolt.

The height & angle of the workbench can be adjusted with a scrap piece of wood wedged under it. It is held in place no problem once some foot pressure is applied to the vice. So the door hinge idea worked

The final product

Taking the horse for a ride

Overall, I'm quite happy with it. Pretty low cost & labour given that the materials were lying around anyway. The one mistake I made was making the slot for the anvil too wide and as a result, the anvil leans to one side when pressed down with the foot pedal. I'm now working on a solution (a better anvil) using a thicker maple scrap piece cut from making the maple white water paddle this past summer. More on that "upgrade" later.


Bryan Sarauer said...

Hi Murat. I'm very intrigued by your folding shaving horse. Other than a narrower slot for the anvil, is there anything you would do differently if starting again from scratch?

Murat said...

Hi Bryan. I was just working on my post about improving the horse when you wrote...made a wider and stronger anvil to clasp the work better. The one regret I still have is that the anvil leans forward too much so the peddle is a bit of a stretch to reach. I think I would've made an angled tenon on the anvil so that the foot peddle would be closer, kind of like this example or cut out a curved one like here

Lodestone said...


I like the simplicity and portability of your design. Since you last wrote on the subject have you made any significant design changes or built one of a different design?

As to the problem with the anvil being a bit of a stretch to clamp firmly, did you try putting on a bigger foot pedal that extends further toward the user (rider?)? It my require reinforcing strips to withstand prolonged pressure from your feet.

Finally, are you willing to put up a drawing, perhaps in pdf format of the plans for this?

Thanks much,


Murat said...

Hi Allen.

I wrote a post updating the new and improved anvil (also made from scraps). Perhaps you've already read it...if not you can check it out HERE. Haven't changed anything or built a new one since it has met my needs so far.

As far as plans go, I haven't conjured up any and it'll be a while before I can get around to it, but in the meantime, there are some links with detailed design plans and dimensional info in the post mentioned before.


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