Monday, June 25, 2012

"Smarthead" Shavehorse Plans

Here are the plans and some notes about the procedure for building the "Smarthead" shavehorse.
While it can be built with a saber saw and hand drill as I've shown, a bandsaw and drill press can improve the accuracy of the assembly which will make for less "play" in the structure.

To print the plan from the blog, try saving it to your desktop first by right clicking on the image. If you experience difficulty printing these out, email me and I will send you a PDF of the plan.

* On the plan, there is an arrow pointing to the gap between the top and bottom outer pieces. If you are using tools that will allow tighter tolerances, this gap can be eliminated to gain another bearing surface. Beyond the small line that connects the two lines, cut both parts to the lower line.

This design as presented will hold a piece up to 4 1/2" thick. I you need to hold larger pieces, simply extend the top components from the "shoulder" of the tenon upwards.
The hole for the pivot in the shavehorse should be 9 1/2"-10" back from the front lip of the "stage". The mortise where the arm passes through the "stage" should have a tight tolerance, but move freely. If you use a heavy wood for the "dumbhead" piece and a light one for the treadle, the arm may lose counterweight when the head is in in the most forward positions, a small clamp just below the treadle can balance it to open automatically.

  •  Print out 7 copies of the plan to glue onto the boards, aligning with the correct side of the boards
  •  Get 10 feet of board, at least 4 7/8" wide and 5/8"-3/4" thick, depending on species
  • Locate the parts of the interior laminate with the teeth so that you might have a second chance at cutting them, then cut them out
  • Use screws or tape to sandwich the outer laminates and cut out on bandsaw (or separately with a saber saw). Cut out the capsule shaped piece.
  • Remember to transfer the alignment marks from the template to the side of the pieces
  •  Drill 5/8" and 7/16" holes in the outer laminates and 5/8" hole in capsule shaped piece
  •  Lightly plane the area of overlap of the lower inner laminate, a tight fit is essential to preventing wracking
  • Clamp together top and bottom laminates to check fit, predrill for screws
  • Glue top and bottom laminates and let dry completely
  • Screw or dowel top laminate at designated spots
  • Plane capsule shaped piece until it fits snugly in opening, but slides nicely
  • Set top portion onto the bottom and insert capsule shaped piece and 5/8" dowel
  • Mark position of 7/16" dowel on capsule shaped piece and drill. 
  • Set screws for bungee cord and cut notch in lowest tooth to guide it
  • Chop mortise in "dumbhead" piece and place on tenon to mark top
  • Drill a hole at a 4 degree downward pitch through the tenon, clipping the line by about 1/16"
  • Make wedge by shaving a dowel
  • Make treadle and check the height by placing a clamp underneath it. 
  • Mark the desired height and drill for a peg to hold the treadle in position
  • Make a mark on the side of the arm when there are only two teeth engaged for reference
  • If Head hangs up when returning to the full open position, use a screw in the location shown to set the gap so that it falls easily into place 
Here are the various parts outlined.   Please let me know if you discover any trouble spots or difficulties, Thanks!

Inner Lower Laminate

Outer Lower Laminates (Two Pieces)

Capsule Shaped Piece

Inner Top Laminate
Outer Top Laminate (Two Pieces)


jack said...


Though I have not written in a while I do read your blog daily and I want to thank you for your gift of knowlege.Too often people feel the only way to get compensated for what they know is with money.
You on the other hand, give daily are happy with the feed back from your readers .THANK YOU for that .You are one of only a few.

Paul T.
L & S Woodworking

Peter Galbert said...

thanks, I'm glad to hear that you appreciate it! As a woodworker, I have to spend a lot of my time equating the craft to money, it's important to me to take the time to do something with it that doesn't.

Jameel Abraham said...

Thanks Peter for providing these. I was planning a shaving horse build this year, and I'm so glad I waited.

Sean Hellman said...

Thank you, I really appreciate how you share you ideas and knowledge. These plans are just the job.
All the best Sean

Peter Galbert said...

Thanks Guys,
I'd love to see the horses you build!

Pagie's Boats said...

Thanks for the plans Peter. I will be building one of these shavehorses to handle our hard wood.
Peter Page

Glen Rundell said...

Magic Pete.
Thanks mate.


Richard Law said...

Most excellent!

For us Brits who were deluded into abandoning our beloved Imperial measurements printing out Peter's plan onto A4 will produce the incorrect scale. I've got Peter's 1" scale to measure up correctly by just printing out as is on A4 paper (the print is intended for a near equivalent of foolscap - which we no longer use :-( )

Then set up to copy your printout at 30% bigger and move the 1st print on the scanner glass so it oversplills forwards and left of the reference corner on the scanner, but so the plan details are all still on the glass. Press copy!

Seems to come out with the inch scale now measuring indeed 1 inch and the rest will be in scale I assume.

Peter Galbert said...

Glen, I'm counting on you to give me feedback, so get to work!!

thanks for the conversion tips. As long as the arm is about 5 inches wide, all should be well. The only variable that changes with the scale is the size piece that it can hold,

Eben Fourie said...

Peter, thank you for the time and effort of creating and sharing this. Yet another project for the growing to-do list around my shop :-)

Anonymous said...

I checked the A4 printing. My findings - loading the jpg into Photoshop Elements 6 indicated that the original file was twice the size of the scale. Reducing the print size to 50% printed off an accurate scale (for the first drawing at least).

Peter Evans

Peter Galbert said...

let me know how it works for you!

thanks for the input. The whole scale of file confusing as can be for me, but if you can get the scale of the print so that the width of the arm is near 5 inches, all should be fine for the range of the opening etc. Thanks again for helping out,

Anonymous said...


It printed perfectly, and to scale down here in Australia, and foolscap was abandoned some time back...

Thankyou for posting the plans and videos - most generous.


Anonymous said...

This looks fabulous! really can't wait to put one together. I am wondering if you are going to include a revised plane for the bench portion and how you integrated the smarthead into your hi-bread mule /horse bench. I have made a shaving mule and used your perch seat with the elevator block. I find it most comfortable. Thanks Peter I really appreciate your offerings.

Rev John said...

Peter, thanks so much for this whole series. I have been planning on building a Shavehorse and this is a great improvement. Also would you please email me the PDF.

Anonymous said...

Peter, Thanks for the Shavehorse plans with its many improvements. Also would you please email me the PDF.

Robert said...

The build will start this weekend or Monday. Got the plans ... Got wood .. Need guts. Thank you Peter for your great content.

Richard Law said...

I read Sean has finished his.

I'm still working on mine - should be done tomorrow (so should the spoons I'm supposed to be working on)

Peter Galbert said...

I can't wait to see it!

Anonymous said... about re-designing the wheel! Love the finishing touch of leather pads, too. Please e-mail me the pdf? Thanks...

Anonymous said...

Whoops. not anonymous, lol.

albear said...

Peter thanks for posting these plans and instructions. Please send me a copy of the PDF. I can hardly wait to get started! Al

Peter Galbert said...

please email me so that I can get your address.

Anonymous said...

Peter, thanks so much for this. I have been planning on building a Shavehorse. Also would you please email me the PDF.