Green Woodworking: Making a shave horse

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Feeling exhausted but pleased to have had such a great day learning the basics of green woodworking on a Little Acorn course.

The aim is to make a shave horse over the weekend. This is an essential piece of kit if you want to enter the world of green woodworking.

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Alistair started by introducing us to the range of tools we would be using and explaining why cleaving a log into four and then making a chair leg or peg from each of the quarters produces a better result. The Latin name for Ash is Fraxinus Excelsior - excellent at splitting.

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We decided to make three legged horses:  each leg was made from Ash, the main body of the horse is from Sitka Spruce and the arms are from Douglas Fir.

We ended the day, as the light faded, with an introduction to using the pole lathe. This is how we'll create good cylindrical pegs and spindles to complete our horses tomorrow.

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On day two we got lots more practice on the pole lathe making the three key spindles for the shave horse (the clamp, the peg and the foot rest). The first step was to use a shave horse to shape a quarter of a green ash log into something as close to a cylinder as possible. This then went onto the pole lathe for roughing out.

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The process of shaping and smoothing the wood more precisely is the most satisfying part with shavings of ash like curls of butter. As one of the other participants said it's amazing to do all this without needing any external power source - just the foot treadle. Once again it was a very full day but satisfying to have finished a shave horse and be able to start our own green woodworking at St Olaves.

Ian, and Jane sitting on their finished shave horses , and Jon in the background with his beech and ash stool/table.

Ian, and Jane sitting on their finished shave horses , and Jon in the background with his beech and ash stool/table.