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Ben’s shaving horse

Ben has been a student with me on my afternoon class for quite a few months now and has just completed his first shaving horse. This is no lightweight, which is not a problem as it will sit in his garden. To give an idea of scale, the bench part is made from 3 inch thick green oak.

I like to stretch my students and if we can use new joints and various construction techniques then all the better. No metal is used in this shave horse. The table is held onto the bench by oak dowels. The legs are the sliding tapered dovetail joint, one of the best green wood joints of all time. For easy knock down these legs will tap out with a light hammer blow even when wet. Try doing that with a round mortice and tenon joint. The wood is green so this type of joint will still work after warping and drying.

 The shave horse has 3 leg the one at the front will act like a wedge in the bench forcing a split down the length of it. To overcome this Ben carved a special joint in the rear table support, so no matter how the leg acts as a wedge the wood will not split.

I will be working, over the winter, on plans and instructions of how to make these shaving horses, pole lathes, benches, saw horses and cleaving breaks. In the autumn I will be setting up a dedicated photographic studio in part of my workshop, so I can get consistent lighting and more importantly a single colour temperature. I have a mixture of tube and tungsten lighting in my workshop which makes colour correction of my photographs a nightmare..

If you want to see another bench made using the sliding tapered dovetail method have a look at this post:

and this one for green wood:

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Coffin Smoother

Coffin Smoother
My Dad recently gave me a plane of his, a coffin smoother. He is a sculptor mainly working in metal.
I have fallen in love with this old and battered plane and am appreciating its uses and qualities. I am newish to the use of planes, although I have renovated a few metal record planes and old wooden ones. The plank of wood you see in the picture is 4 x 13 inch and 6,1/2 feet long, an inch too wide to fit through my planer thicknesser. Out came the planes, and Dan and I had to take the wind out and level smooth. We both by far preferred the wood planes, they just glided over the wood, light and warm to the touch. This is all very subjective, but these things certainly add to the pleasure of the work in hand.
I have a lot to learn about planes, and I think one of the problems with both these planes is the rather large mouth size. In the larger plane the shavings all bunch up in the throat. I think it is time for an insert to be fitted to reduce the mouth size.
This plank of wood is being made into a bench, the “mortice” joints you see are sliding tapered dovetail joints. The female parts are easy to cut, but the male tenons are not that easy and take a long time to pare down to fit. More about this in a later blog.