Ready to Shave a Cane, but no Horse in sight.

Welcome! Forums Project Series Walking Cane Ready to Shave a Cane, but no Horse in sight.

Viewing 12 posts - 1 through 12 (of 12 total)
  • Author
  • #143373

    I’m finally ready to start forming the shaft of the cane, but I just can’t get the right positions for the shaft in order to use the draw knife. I’ve never used a shaving horse. I’ve looked up plans and they are just not making sense to me.

    There seems to be some sort of three-dimensional leverage that is applied to the work that hold the wood in place, but allows the woodworker to keep moving it around. I have a small workbench (sjoberg) with wood vises and dog holes. I have a banger bench I made a long time ago that can be altered or mutilated any way I wish. I even have nylon straps fed through the dog holes in hopes of holding the work.

    I googled “Easy Shave Horse Plans” and half the hits were on how to shave a full size live horse to make it look better. I kid you not. Darned if I spend a month’s food budget to buy one of these thingamajigs. There’s got to be a way to knock together some 2×4’s and the like.

    Does anyone have a simple straightforward way to take a draw knife to a wood shaft without getting tangled up in levers, foot pedals, bicycle seats, and heaven knows what else?


    Hi Jeff,

    the principle is not very complicated. While pulling the drawknife your feet are pushing against the holding device in the opposite direction making the head grip and hold the workpiece in place. A Bodger’s horse just uses a horizontal bar to hold the workpiece whereas the Schnitzelbank-Style or german-style horse features a “dumbhead” to hold down the workpiece.

    This is a pretty straight-forward design without carving the head etc. The chair maker Curtis Buchanan uses both this style and a more traditional Schnitzelbank in his videos on youtube. I highly recommend watching him if you have a bit of interest in windsor chair making and such.

    Beside all that I like to use the drawknife with the workpiece mounted in the vise. What exactly do you struggle with?

    I enjoy working wood in Germany.

    Hugo Notti

    Yes, that design is great! It took me a weekend to build it and you don’t need to pay much attention to precision, except for the moving parts. It seems to be designed to get you a good reliable shaving horse with the least amount of effort.

    Here is a step by step instruction for building the horse:

    It starts with the second part, the “business end”. If you scroll down, you will find the first part, building the base.

    Make sure, you use thick wood for the clamp head (just follow the original design). I was too lazy to laminate two pieces together, and it broke after a few hours of use.

    And yes, the videos of Curtis Buchanan on youtube are very instructional. Try this playlist: The videos number 2 to 5 give you the basics of getting wood, splitting it and then working it on the shaving horse. There are more, this series seems to be the most detailed about techniques. There is another playlist about sharpening tools, including sharpening froes, wedges (must see!) and draw-knives.



    Doesn’t Paul use a drawknife for the shaker bench? Whichever project it was might give you ideas for how to hold the work without a bodgers bench, e.g., just in the vise or in a hand screw in the vise.

    David R.

    I came across two interesting approaches:

    foot vise (skip to 7:10):

    simple vise (skip to 2:20):

    Maybe something similar to this works for you.


    from Germany


    Thank all of you. I’m getting closer and closer. I can almost feel the handles of a draw knife rather than this blessed keyboard!

    — Jeff


    Florian, I enjoyed just looking at the wood in Germany. We camped for a week in Das Schwarzwald.

    I seem to remember a Christmas song from my youth:
    Ist das nicht ein Schnitzelbank?
    Ja, das ist ein Schnitzelbank!
    Schnitzelbank! Schnitzelbank!
    Ach, du Schoene; Ach, du Schoene;
    Ach, du Schoene, Schnitzelbank!

    Ist das nicht ein kurtz und lang …

    Vielen Dank,



    Paul Sellers indeed does use the vise on his bench. Although I bought my bench, the vises are sort of rinky-dink, and limited by the position of the three rails that run between the vise clamps. My vise racks quickly. It was very useful to see Paul use the portable vice within the bench vise, giving him more room to work and I think making it easier to rotate the work.

    He uses a converted scrubplane, a large draw knife, two spoke shaves (I am still learning how to sharpen and adjust my spokeshave), and as I hoped to see, a hand scraper held by hand, not in a holder. Of course, he says we don’t have to use all those, he’s just demonstrating their use. I have one advantage: a couple smaller draw knives, although I’d bet he just didn’t bother to take his small ones off the shelf.

    I’ll try my bench vise again, but it’s awkward in use. In the next life I’ll get or make a better one. Especially with some shelf liner to improve grip. (I’m in the process of lining the jaws of the bench vise to allow myself to clamp harder and not think about denting the wood.)

    The other other handicaps I have using Paul’s method is the cane shaft is going to be much more slender and therefore, I believe, more finicky to clamp. The last handicap is that Paul Sellers is a master and I am absolutely not.

    Thank you for pointing me to the Shaker Bench; I have no interest in making a bench and forgot that it’s the woodworking that goes into the bench that really counts. You have taught me something. So much to learn; so little time.

    • This reply was modified 4 years, 11 months ago by jeffpolaski. Reason: Poor syntax. I'm not telling where. ;-)

    I would love to make Tim Manney’s, and for that matter, Jameel Abraham’s shave horses. But I’m pushing 70 years old and have not the time to do them justice (long health story), and there’s just no room for them, and now never will be. (Useful hint, though, about Jameel’s suggestions about leather for gripping. I’ll use that, large and small.)

    Curtis Buchanan’s videos are definitely on my list now, resting between work sessions. Thank you for your feedback. You are among the many people who have convinced me that I perhaps chose the wrong careers, and the wrong places to live.

    Thank you so very much.

    — Jeff

    Hugo Notti

    Ok, I see…

    How about a quick-release clamp to clamp the cane to the top of the workbench? I mean these clamps with a pistol handle and “trigger” to tighten, and a button to release it instantly. If you are lucky, the height is just right to sit in front of the bench and shave away. And you can secure the open end of the cane in your armpit. Use a piece of soft wood between clamp and cane. The quick release just to make it faster to move or rotate the cane.


    PS: I am not sure, if I heard that song before, but it is very nice! I got curious, because I thought, it should be “eine Schnitzelbank”, except, it doesn’t fit the length of the rhyme, so I asked google and found this:
    And here a German version with slightly different text: (Hobelbank is German for workbench). It comes from an area that used to be very famous for fine woodworking.


    I stand corrected. “Schnitzelbank literally means “scrap bench” or “chip bench” (from Schnitzel “scraps / clips / cuttings (from carving)” or the colloquial verb schnitzeln “to make scraps” or “to carve” and Bank “bench”); like the Bank, it is feminine and takes the article “die”.
    I blame either the many years since high school, or my lack of opportunity to frequent locals, places of high learning.

    Lordy, what I wouldn’t give for a liter of Dunkel.

    Fortunately, I lived in Italy for almost three years and was our office’s designated courier to our headquarters in Munchen. My wife’s college roommate has made her permanent home in Heidelberg, where I took advantage of visits to frequent the Rotten Ochsen.

    This text tool does not do umlauts.

    Hals und Beinbruch!

    — Jeff

    Greg Merritt

    I built my shaving horse based upon this design:

    Very simple and fast to build. It took me an afternoon to build and another couple of hours of refinement the next day. I wrote a blog post about it here:

Viewing 12 posts - 1 through 12 (of 12 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.