Bushcraft Woodworking: Building a Shave Horse
Russ Chastain 12.03.20
In this newly-posted video we see bushcraft woodworking at its best, as Dan from CoalCracker Bushcraft strolls off into the woods and returns with a log about 6 feet long, which he proceeds to split and cut and carve and such, until he has built himself a shave horse (or shaving horse).
A shave horse is a construct which essentially combines a chair, a work bench, and a vise — for doing more advanced woodworking such as making round spokes and such using a draw knife.
In this dialogue-free video, Dan treks forth with axe and crosscut saw in search of timber, and returns sans tools with the heavy log on his back. He then splits the log lengthwise using hammer & wedges, then splits one of the resulting halves to form a plank of sorts.
He then sorta-kinda flattens or smooths the top of that plank using a hand adze (Dad used to call it a “foot subtractor” because it’s easy to chop yourself in the foot while using one), and uses a bow saw to cut the “barky” portion of the plank half of the original log. Splitting the two barked halves gives him 4 pieces from which to make the legs of his “horse.”
With hatchet and draw knife in true bushcraft woodworking fashion, he rounds and smooths the legs, forming the ends into round pegs which will fit into the holes he bores (manually, of course) into the bottom of his plank. Once the legs are fitted, he can sit on his incomplete horse and use his draw knife to get it truly smooth.
Next, he saws the other half of the log in half with his trusty (but apparently not terribly sharp) bow saw. Some strategic sawing and splitting gives him an interesting piece, which he further refines using hatchets. Then he does some splitting and some cogitating and some test-fitting as he forms the work surface.
After boring a hole through his bench sideways using brace & bit, he caves in to modern times by using a length of rebar as a pivot through that hole. Then he chisels a rectangular hole vertically through the bench, intersecting the bored hole.
From there, things get harder to describe — but there’s plenty of drilling, chiseling, and test fitting. When he’s done, he can sit astride the bench and push on the bottom of the clamp lever with his feet to secure a hunk of wood in place as he shaves it with a draw knife. Kind of using “bushcraft woodworking” to make it easier for him to do some less-primitive wood working.
Enjoy the video.