Building a shaving horse...a tutorial

Zach Houvener

Active member
I wanted to share a little project I made over the weekend. Having lost a little inspiration lately, I decided to make a shaving horse based off of a photo I saw that someone posted of Steve Brettels horse he had in Westlake. I hope its ok with steve that I copied his design a little bit, but it was a really fun project that I wanted to demonstrate to you guys how easy it is to build one of these things. It isnt even close to comparison to Steves, or Pete Peterson's, but it is level, sturdy, and performs like nobodys business.

The humble begginings, my "blueprints"


The wood, some white pine, oak, and 2x8 fir for the swinging arm


The mockup design of dimensions and trying to make it fit my body hieght, wieght, etc...


Already made a few cuts, nothing is screwed together yet but having penciled in the dimensions it looks like a bench

A crucial piece, the front brace cut-out

Another mockup trying to get the top arm and bottom arm overlapping in the same spot, double checking twice before I cut once!!

because I didnt do so well on the measure twice cut once thing...fairing in the seam

Cutting out the slot on the lower brace for the swinging arm to fit in


Already looking like a functional vise


The swinging arm design and the big bolt that the swinging arm will rotate on

drop it in the slots making sure both slots dont obstruct forward motion

Drilling the hole for the hex bolt to drop into. I put big washers in between the slot in the middle as well as both the outer sides. A little difficult to do with a handheld drill but it turned out pretty good


Drop in the bolt, washers, and nuts on the other end of the bolt to lock it in place, just have to add the foot piece...

And here she is! Like I said not a work of art, but it is surprisingly very sturdy, doesnt rock, and holds the only cutout I had an old headless teal as strong as anything. Add a little bit a leather where the tip of the head meets the cutout and I dont see anything slipping away.


A fun little project to work on that I got done over the weekend (I could've and would've finished in one night except for the yelling of my family members to be quiet and stop jigsawing at 1:30 in the morning)!

Total cost is about $50 and a couple hours and you have a fully functional shaving horse, with a bit of tradition behind it that should work well with the new spokeshave and bunch of jelutong I just picked up!

GOOD LORD! Why did you use all the CLEAR lumber on that?!!! I see about 6 dekes that will never get a life. Nice work though and a good pictorial.
Zach, very nice.

I can't believe your still carving decoys, after the decoy class with all of us old farts I figured you would be ruined for life and in need of some serious therapy!!!

Hope your having a good summer.


Nice work. That has real charm. Are you going to add some braces to it? You used good strong joints but from here it looks like a brace might be needed.
Thanks guys, it was fun to build!

Fred, I still might need some therapy but I still love to carve!!haha hope yours and the boys summer is going well also

Eric, Yes I will be adding a brace to it as well! THanks