Friday, May 29, 2015

Combining a Shaving Horse and Bowl Carving Bench - My "Mk III" Shaving Horse.

I've got about 8 shaving horses, which I use for running public workshops. I had previously made a batch of shaving horses from packing crate material and other recycled wood, which I did a post about  in July 2014.
Since then I have made another version, like a super-modified saw horse. Let's call it the Mk II - a multifunctional shaving horse and bowl carving horse combo. My favourite horse, it is about 7 feet long, has fixed legs, and a heavy vise built into the tail of the bench. All this limits its portability.
Some of the original shaving horses, English Bodger style on the left and Dumbhead style on the right.

The Mk II Shaving Horse / Carving bench combo. A beautiful beast - with a tail vise!
The Mk II has fixed legs, as it is a supermodified saw horse at it's core. Being all jarrah, it is heavy. It is very versatile in its holding capacity, but there are times when it is too big or tricky to transport. 

I was invited by Timbecon to demonstrate Green Woodworking at the Brisbane "Timber & Working with Wood" Show on 15-17 May 2015. With my gear needing to be transported three thousand kilometres across the continent, I had the need to make a portable and versatile bench fairly quickly to catch the truck. Hence the Mk III was conceived. I was going to Brisbane, as the Mk II was not going to be friendly to ship on a pallet of stuff.

OK, so lets make a shaving horse combo which will be easier to ship. This means its got to have folding or removable legs...

Deciding on the Characteristics of the Mk III.Shaving Horse.
I built my first shaving horse, Mr Smiley, at the legendary Roy Underhill's Woodwright's School in North Carolina in late 2013. This was a classic "dumb-head" style, made entirely by hand from timber we mostly extracted from the forest using cross-cut saw and axe, then fashioned with side axe, adze, shaving horse, draw knife, brace and bit, etc. Amid the stable of horses at Roy's, there were a couple of shaving horses of the English Bodger's style. I particularly liked this style.
Me using Mr Smiley. I left him in Roy Underhill's Woodwright's School stable. 
Mr Smiley, with embedded Australian $2 coins for eyes. 

Horse-cam. Making Mr Smiley's walnut legs on an English Bodger's style shaving horse at Roy's.
Not sure why, but I seem to prefer the English Bodger's style of Shaving Horse. Hence the Mk II and Mk III were both made in this style.

Veritas Tools used to have free Shaving Horse plans available on their website, which I saw before planning the Mk II. One of the things which caught my eye was the use of the back end of the bench/seat for additional holding options. Now there was an idea...

When doing bowl carving, I have been using a very low wide-topped saw horse which has dog holes in its top for gripping he bowl blanks. What if these functions were built into the back end of a shaving horse? When I made the Mk II, I even installed a big vise in the back end of the bench. Awesome.

As the Mk III was to be portable, I would make the horse a little shorter than the MkII, put a twin row of dog holes in the bench for bowl carving, and not install the vise (which would add a lot to the weight).

Of course, it would be made from recycled wood. I happened to have a couple of ancient house beams, of Oregon (known outside Australia as Douglas Fir). I docked one of these to length, dressed the stick, and bored dog holes in it. It would be a nice solid bench/seat. Jarrah would be used for the legs, treadle frame, the ramp, and the bench accessories. The legs would fold, and be held flat to the bench when packed flat, using a couple of coach screws. To put up the legs, undo the coach screws, fold the legs out, and wind in the same coach screws in at the base of the struts. Solid as a rock.

The horse/bench folded flat, with all the accessories.

Fold up the legs, and wind in the coach screw at the base of the prop.
The assembled shaving horse. A rotating head on the treadle frame.
Variability with 3 hole positions in the bench, and 3 holes in the treadle frame.
Rotating head, and a sliding support block under the ramp.
Bowl holding on edge. The foot vise is fantastic. You sit behind the end post.
A couple of sets of folding wedges and side blocks.
Great gripping power when adzing out bowls.
Holdfasts go well for holding work too.
Not a bad beast. Solid, reliable, and versatile.
It's also much easier to ship and to pack away than the Mk II.
You still need a small box to hold the bolts, head, and accessories.
The Mk III takes about 5 minutes to assemble, creating a very solid saving horse, bowl carving bench, and general low bench. ... I do miss that tail vise though!

I love the way ideas evolve...
The Mk III was test driven for the first time at the Brisbane Wood Show. A nice horse too.
The film crew from QUT did a story around my demo area.
Here you can see the Mk III in action, ridden by Bernie the Journo.
This pic gives an idea of the size of the horse.

Don't worry, I am already thinking about the possible characteristics of the Mk IV!!
The buzz-"phrase is "Continuous Improvement", isn't it?

It is exciting that so many people are interested in Green Woodworking.

As a consequence I have been contacted by an overwhelming number of people seeking more info and measurements for the Mk III Combined Shaving and Bowl Carving Bench.
You will be pleased to learn that I will have detailed plans for sale in the near future, soon after the upcoming launch of my website. Yes! A proper website after all these years! This should be on line before Christmas 2017. There will be other plans available too, and other resources, as I am always cooking up new devices, like my new Tilting Bowl Carving Bench. 

Here are a few pics of the prototype. A couple of tweaks and small changes, and this awesome device will also be up on the new website with plans available for sale.  

The bowl blank is held between the two end stops by a pair of folding wedges.

The Tilting Bowl Carving Bench has 4 angle positions in which your bowl blank can be held.
Flat (0 degrees), 30 degrees, 45 degrees and 60 degrees. 

Work raised in the 60 degree position. It also can be held at 45, 30, and 0 degrees (flat, as per the previous pic)

In the flat position it is also good for paring with your gouges after the adze work.

Remember, Folks, plans for the MkIII Shaving Horse (a combined Shaving Horse and Bowl Carving Bench) and the Tilting Bowl Carving Bench will both be be available soon just after the launch of our new web site - along with other plans, plus lots of free information and inspiration to help you on your green woodworking journey.

I just love to share the joy of traditional woodworking with others.
Wood is a gift from the trees. Honour the trees by making beautiful things from them.

Greg Miller, Perth, Western Australia.  31 October 2017.   

Note: the plans are now available to purchase. They are quite comprehensive, being 9 A3 pages made up of scale drawings and some photos, but you can always print them out in A4 if you wish. Available in pdf format, the cost is AUD$50, which in the current exchange rate is approx US$37. To all those who have been waiting, my sincere apologies. I had hoped the plans would be available on my hew website, but this is not yet operational.

To purchase these plans, go to our Etsy Shop!
Kind regards,