The Best Shaving Horse Plans

by ziggy on February 17, 2013 -- 0 comments -- Follow

Shaving Horse

The “Smarthead” shaving horse design

During our time at Greg Pennington’s workshop here in Hendersonville, TN, I got spoiled using his awesome shaving horse, and knew that I would eventually have to make my own. Well, I had that opportunity over the past couple of weeks, and I based the design on Greg’s live edge seat, and Peter Galbert’s super sweet ‘Smarthead’ plans. This is the best shaving horse, I do believe. The beauty of Galbert’s design is that the user can adjust the size of the working area by simply ratcheting the head, without fiddling with pins. It’s also super strong. And very comfortable, which is equally important. I love it.

Best Shaving Horse Plans

Most awesome is that Peter Galbert has made his shaving horse plans available for free on his website, along with a series of videos describing the construction process. You can print out a full scale diagram that makes cutting out the pieces for the ratcheting head very simple, which is the most complicated part in in this overall simple process.

EDIT: July 2017 — The plans and templates are no longer available on Galbert’s website. Instead, check out his fantastic book, Chairmaker’s Notebook for plans and instructions.

Shaving Horse Plans

The ratcheting head — very awesome

Why is this shaving horse so great? Here are some key features:

  • Ratcheting head allows for easy adjustments — you can size it up or down to clamp down on bigger or smaller work pieces
  • …as a result, the foot pedal is also easy to keep at a comfortable position, and is never too far out of reach
  • The angle of the work platform is shallow (10°, to be exact) and again, very comfortable
  • No part of the head gets in the way of shaving work
Shaving Horse Plans 01

Ratcheting head from the back — the bungee cord keeps tension when adjusting

Following Galbert’s Design

Following Galbert’s design is very pleasant, thanks to his detailed drawings, the print-out diagrams that you can adhere directly to your wood to cut the pieces out, and the great videos which take you right though the process. I recommend you check out his documentation online.

Shaving Horse Design 01

The leather provides a better work surface grip

Shaving Horse Materials

I used sassafras for the seat portion, a live edge piece which looks pretty cool. The bark may ultimately be impractical (as it may chip off), but darn, it just looks too neat. I used maple for all of the ratcheting head pieces, as it is strong and will probably last longer than a softer wood. The legs are turned maple, and elm and walnut are in use elsewhere in the shaving horse.

I adhered leather to the work platform and the head, which makes a huge difference in the slip department — work pieces do not slip nearly as much with the leather in place.

The work experience is fantastic — the shaving horse is an absolute pleasure to use. Comfortable, strong, and best of all, my legs are never stretched too far. The head ratchets perfectly, and it actually wasn’t that hard to cut out, either, despite how complicated it looks in the drawings.

Best shaving horse! Thanks, Greg and Peter.

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