Thursday, August 20, 2009

Shaving horse, Part II

You can't go to the hardware store and buy a shaving horse. You have to make it yourself. Some people use dimensioned lumber. This would be OK, say, in Juneau, where in spite of being in danger of getting a tree on your head, you can't cut any. I will not, at this time, go any further on that one. But at Chalupy, we have wood in the round, as in trees.

So I found a biggish birch near home. Much too heavy to move; I tied a rope to it and used the car to drag it home. Then I proceeded to split it.

Looks easy, huh? You use wedges, those steel black things at the top of the rightmost log. You drive the wedges with a maul, the yellow-handled monster in the picture. The steel wedges are helped out by big wooden gluts -- one is sticking out of the lefthand log. If you don't have any gluts, you must stop and make them. I didn't have any. Getting to this stage took at least two hours. The bigger the log, the harder it is to split.

Nest you take the better (right) half of your split and you split off the lower part, making a plank out of your log.

If you look really carefully, or maybe have a full-size picture, you can see a blue chalk line which is where I wanted to go. The log didn't cooperate. Tough. That was a nasty log. I am now at least four hours into this project. So now I have to hack the log to shape. Roy Underhill's book suggests you use an adze. My adze at that time was a Portuguese one-handed adze called an enxo', observable in the bottom middle of the picture, and with it I hacked the log to plank shape. All this is an excellent workout. Unlike a gym, you have something to show for it when it's done. Real logs are not straight-grained oak, which splits like a dream; they have knots, burls, twists, and all kinds of obstructions. Con estos bueyes hay que arar, as they say in Spanish -- with these oxen we must plow.

The next step is to put legs on it. This involves drilling some great big holes, then getting suitable legs in thiose great big holes. Unfortunately, drilling great big holes is my bugbear. I can't find a suitable auger. I should mention that for green woodworking, power tools are anathema. Any moron can build anything using power tools. (I will make some exceptions for chain saws, and a few other things. But basically Chalupy frowns on power tools.)

Then we hack out the riser and ramp from out leftover logs. I wish I had some pictures of this, but I didn't take any. Too busy hacking.

The current incarnation of the horse is below.

The top crossbar was hacked out this morning, 'cause the old one broke. One nice thing about a shaving horse is that you make your own repair parts. The strange object that looks like a giant demented comb is, in fact, my bull rake project (as if I didn't have enough projects). But that's for later. In the meantime, I am shaving out the tines of the rake on the horse -- a beautiful way to spend Thursday morning.

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