I live in a house that is easily more than 100 years old. Living here has taught me that the term ‘this ole house’ is the basis of conversation with the repairman I called last week, rather than a syndicated production. By the generosity of God, I grew up on a farm learning to do all that you can to save paying others to do what you might accomplish. Life has taught me that you are a much better person if you mow your own yard rather than get a job, that pays enough money, that after taxes, you can still afford to hire someone else, to mow it for you, and pay for their weekly service, while you also pay a monthly fee to go to the gym or health club, in order to have a place to exercise.

Think about it……..Bob

Tuesday, November 11, 2014


Recently I found a really nice small work bench that you place on a table top, or saw horses, and you have most of the very helpful advantages of a full size work bench.  It is made in Sweden by Sjobergs and is called a Smart Vise.  The only problem is that it retails for about $139.00.  So after looking at it, I determined I could make one myself.

The first item to get was the mechanism that is the vice on the front of the unit.  As I search for vices on the internet, I finally found at Lowe's  the very vice that I could use.  It is made by Irwin Tools, called a "Woodworking Vice", and was only $19.99.  Next I knew I would need some dogs to put into the holes.  I found those at Grizzly Industrial, Inc., for only $3.95 a pair (T26311 Grizzly 5/8" Steel Bench Dogs).  So now all I need is some wood.

The one I found for sale is about 15" x 18".  I decided to make mine 18" wide and 24" deep.  I always start my projects by looking through all my stacks of wood pieces and select those that I might cut the required size needed.  I found two pieces of 3/4" plywood that would make the bottom and a piece of 1 x 2 for the underneath lip that will butt to the table top edge.

Now I am basically moving forward.

I added glue and then clamped the 1 x 2, cut to 18", under the bottom.  While that set and hardened, I worked on getting the vice to a point that I could incorporate it into the unit.  An old piece of 2 x 6, about 8 1/2" long, was just the start.  The back of the vice has 2 tabs that stick out for the sole purpose of attaching it to the front edge of a table top.

 I clamped the 2 x 6 into the position, drilled two 5/16" holes, and inserted 2 carriage bolts through the wood and then the tab.  Blow away the wood shavings, place a flat washer, then a lock washer, and then tightened the nut to secure the two together.  Then I noticed that there were 2 counter sink holes in the metal plate for a couple of flat head screws to even further lock the two items together, so I opened the vice beyond its maximum and removed the front plate with the screw bar and the two parallel guides.  This allowed me to add those 2 screws.

Next I realized that the vice will have to be elevated above the surface of the bottom 18" x 24" of the unit, so I cut two pieces 5 1/2" long and 1" x 1 1/2".  These were glued to the underside of the 2 x 6.

The 1 1/2" made the bottom of the vice plate be in alignment with the top surface of the bottom 18" x 24" of the unit.

The 1" width made the pieces fit just between the screw bar and the parallel guide bars.

I added two 3" dry wall screw in the back edge of the 2 x 6 at an angle of 45 degrees such that the screws would help lock the spacers underneath to the 2 x 6.  Now I can attach the vice assembly to the bottom 18" x 24" of the unit.  This was done by clamping the assembly into place and then countersink

two 1 5/8" screws through the underside of the bottom into each of the spacers glued to the underside of the 2 x 6.

After that, I marked the top side of the 18" x 24" bottom for the 3 boards to use as risers that support the top of the unit.  These measures were then transferred to the bottom side.  Then I cut three pieces 24" long using a 3/4" board, and ripped those down to 2" wide.  Finally I cut one of the 24" shorter to be the middle riser.  It only needed to be 18 1/4".

I set the risers on edge, placed the unit upside down on top of the risers, position carefully the 3 risers, and drilled countersink holes for the many 1 5/8" screws.

Flipped the unit back over and now it is ready for the two pieces 18" x 24" of 3/4" plywood that make the work surface. 

I added a short piece of 2" wide between the center riser and the one on the right to make a pocket for any accessories.  Before adding the base 18" x 24" of the top, I marked the front area of the base to cut out a rectangle about 8 1/2" x 5 1/2" so the base would rest on the risers and allow the 2 x 6 attached to the vice to fit within the cut out rectangle.  I checked the alignment of the two 18" x 24" pieces by standing my framing square on edge and butted to the edge of the bottom 18" x 24". Then I drilled countersink holes for the 1 5/8" screws, just as I did for the underside of the bottom.  With that attached with screws, I checked the final work top and realized the head of the carriage bolts should have been recessed, so at this point I had to remove enough from the underside of the very top so there was a cavity to prevent the carriage bolt head from causing a problem.

With a DREMEL tool and a sanding cylinder, I made the two cavities necessary for the top to fit correctly in the front underside edge.

Next I used a wide blade putty knife and a lot of wood glue.  I poured glue and spread all over the top of the 
18" x 24" surface I had just attached.  Then the underside of the final top.

Now the two pieces of 
18" x 24" can be sandwiched together and clamp all edges.  I left this to dry for at least 24 hours.

In preparation for the holes to be drilled for the dogs, I gave the unit a good sanding and two coats of water based polyurethane.  This will help make a cleaner cut when drilling the holes for the dogs.   While that dried, I wanted to add cheeks to the inside of the vice, so I cut a 3/8" piece of plywood to fit the back.

Using a foster bit, I drilled a 1/2" dia. about 1/4" deep into the piece and hot glued a rare earth magnet so this piece could be easily removed, but would stay in place when needed.

For the front jaw, I sat a 12" piece of 2 x 4 to rest on the two parallel guide bars and realized that it was taller than the work surface.

This works out fine because I will not have to drill holes for dogs into this piece.  It is attached with two 1" screws through the holes provided by the designer of the vice.

Now the measures for the holes to be drilled for the dogs.  Since the maximum opening of the vice is now been reduced from 5 inches down to about 3 1/2 because of the two cheeks I inserted,

I used a red pencil to mark at 3 1/4" from the front on the right side edge.  Then another mark every 3 1/2" to the back.  Then the same on the other left side edge.  I put a 5/8" drill bit in my drill press, making sure that the bit had those 2 short ears on the outer edge of the blade so they cut a circle before the blade actually cuts into the surface.  This will give the best clean hole.  Next I placed an auxiliary fence on the table of my drill press with some tape on it aligned with the bit.

Using my framing square I positioned the fence 4 1/2" from the tip of the bit, and marked the tape with the red pencil for a reference point.  I removed the front jaw of the vice to avoid problems, sat the unit on the table of the drill press, and

aligned the red mark on the outer edge of the unit with the red mark on the tape stuck to the auxiliary fence and drilled.  You'll need a piece of 3/4" to slide under the unit when drilling the two holes closest to the front edge.  Once finished, I slid the unit to the next mark and continued.  Turn the unit around and do the same for the other side.

I thought I was finished and ready to use the unit, but that pocket I made for accessories was very awkward to get to with my hand.  As I looked at the unit I realized there are cavities on both sides created by the risers.  So I dug around in my mountains of junk and found an old hot plate.  You know the kind that you put on a buffet table, plug into the wall, and sat a casserole on at a pot luck supper to keep the food warm.

Mine died many years ago, but it had a top made from sheet metal.  I cut the width I needed to make a drawer and kept the length.

Using my 30" brake from Harbor Freight, I was able to bend the metal into the continuous side-bottom-side that I needed.

Then I cut two blocks to insert at each end that would be the front and the back of the drawer, and added a knob to the front.  I drilled two 3/32" holes on each side of the inserts through the metal and drove small 3/4" nails to hold the end in place.

This worked out just fine and has room for what I need.  I stood the unit on its left edge and

drilled holes for two more of my rare earth magnets.  Also I glued a stop block at the back for the drawer to butt against.

This is just what I needed.  My drawer is safe and secure, out of the way, and easy to get to for access.  The magnets really do hold it securely.

Now I am open for business and ready to work.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Shaving Horse Plans, Diagrams, and Photos

Since the first time I saw a “shaving horse” I have wanted one.  Although it is somewhat specialized in its use, there is nothing better for the work that it allows you to do to wood.  I could even see this device a very helpful tool if you are into macramé.  You could use it to hold tight the woven area and allow you to work about 12 to 20 inches at a time before you shift and continue.

Here is my finished horse.  I have always called it a “draw horse” since the common tool is a “draw knife”.

Every year, I find that spring will sprout anywhere from 20 to 50 sapling trees in my back yard.  Most of them are either oak or pecan.  So I let some grow in the event I lose a large tree and want to replace it.  Once the young tree is about 12 feet high I will decide to let it grow or make a nice walking stick.  Here is one use for my horse…the ability to remove the outer bark in about one tenth the time it takes with a hand knife, and I can also shave the places where the branches were attached at the same time.

Also I like to save some of the winter storm branches that break off, and cut the good ones for legs when I make stools for sitting.  For this I leave the bark on the wood, but I need to form a nice round end on the wood about 2 inches long and 1 inch diameter to insert into the seat.  In the past I have stood at my bench belt sander for hours shaping the ends, and getting covered in the saw dust.  The horse is perfect for me to accomplish this task also.

I don't know anyone with a horse that I could go measure, so I got on the internet and Googled “shaving horse”.  I got many many photos and could pay to get plans, but I just do not like to pay for plans that I am likely to change a little anyway.  The photos that I liked were downloaded.  After I had a dozen or so, I started looking at each to find common features.  One was of a diagram that someone had drawn and added most measurements, with a short narrative.

This is the diagram I used as a reference while working on this project for basic measures.  I needed to realize that I was not going to have one that used a wide slab of wood 3 or 4 inches thick, so I focused on designs using boards 2 inches thick (actually 1 ½“).  Throughout all of this posting, if you see an angle used it will be 10 degrees or its compliment of 80 degrees.  All glue is Gorilla glue since this horse may be outside from time to time, and possibly get wet.

I started my project by finding two pieces of 2 x 6 at least 5 feet long.  From the two boards I found, I made sure one end of each was square, then measured 54” and drew a line on a 10 degree angle off my square to the other side (which made the other side about 1“ longer).  Now I have the two long pieces for the “bench” of my horse.  If the pieces cut off are at least 20” on the short side, then you can use one for the front leg.  It is also cut on an angle of 10 degrees on both ends such that the cuts are parallel.  Next I cut a short piece of the 2 x 6 to be 5 ½“ long for a spacer in the square end of the bench.

I put one of the long pieces on my work bench with the long side against me.  To this I put the front leg at the end with the slant and aligned the leg to be extended outward. 

The short piece, as a spacer, goes at the square end.

I put glue between the pieces, pre-drilled 4 holes with counter sink, and used 2 ½“ deck screws to bind them.  Then I put glue on the two pieces and added the other long board with 4 screws at each end.  I have learned to pre-drill holes for screws and counter sink for a clean non-split holding.

From a 2 x 4, I cut two pieces 20“ long with the same 10 degree slant on one end and the other end square.  From the square end, measure 5 “ down the leg and 1” from the shorter side, and place a dot.

Now at 10 degrees off the shorter edge, draw a line through the dot to the square end.  Measure 5 ½“ from the square end on the slanted line and mark.  Draw a perpendicular to this line from that mark to the closest edge.

This area I cut away on my band saw.  Next hold the leg against the rear of the horse in its position and with your pencil make an arc that will show where to cut the other corner away.

I rounded over the corner since it might tear my pants.  Use this leg as a template to mark the other leg.
On all three legs I chamfered the bottom to avoid any tear out when scooted across the floor.

I attached these two back legs using three 3“ screws in each with a deep counter sink where needed.

I took this assembly off the work bench and set it on the floor.

When I sat down on it, I knew some type of seat was needed.   From a 2 x 4, I cut a 6 ½“ piece and cut both corners out leaving a 1 ½” x 1 ½” tenon centered.  Using a 2 x 6 about 18” long I rounded the corners and routed the edges with a 3/8” round over bit.  A mortise 1 ½” x 1 ½” is needed to be centered with respects to the longest measure and located so the 2 x 4, when joined, will make the edge of the 2 x 4 flush with the edge of the 2 x 6.

After I had drawn the mortise, I drilled a 3/8” hole in each corner and used a jig saw to cut the mortise.

Then I spent about an hour with a rasp to fine fit the two pieces together.  The glue used even helped the tight fit to slide into position finally.  I love using mortise and tenon, but I’m not proficient enough to do it without a great deal of sanding and rasping till I am tired.

Seat the 2 x 4 piece down into the void of the bench and you have a movable seat to adjust as you feel.

If you get tired of the wood,  consider one of those square cushions for boats that seconds as a flotation  devise when you put your arm into the straps.  I know this is a ‘seat’, but this is a horse so I’ll call it the saddle.  My horse deserves respect.  So I’m in the saddle, straddled the 2 boards on their edge used for the bench… and I try to foresee the placement of the slot to cut in the “bridge“ to accept the vertical mid section, the “arm”, to be located.

I found  a 2 x 8, 34” board to use as the bridge and used it to determine some measures and placement.  This made me see I need to have the arm also, so I started on that part.  A piece of 2 x 6 cut to 30” is very strong.  As shown below, the ends become tenons, and shaped with a 10 degree angle.  This will add an angle for the “head” to meet the bridge with better alignment and afford a more comfortable position for the feet to apply pressure. 

Another variable in this equation is the measure of the head and the placement of its mortise so it will fit to the top of the arm.  Then you got to consider the placement of the ½” hole in the arm and the bridge for the rod that is like an axle in the design and allows the arm to move as I work.  At the bottom of the arm is the “treadle”.  Since it does have a 10 degree slant, all this wants to clear the floor and give the proper pressure for gripping the work.  Did I mention that the bridge is elevated on the working end and therefore we also have the height of the “riser” to consider.  So I needed all these parts in order to try to not make a mistake.

I  decided to make the treadle first because it is thinner than the piece for the head and they both need a mortise to accept the tenons located at each end of the arm.  A piece of 4 quarter cypress, 9” wide and cut to 10 inches worked here.  I made sure to run the grain parallel to the length of the horse for strength, but when I was rasping and fitting, I heard a crack.  To reinforce this I glued some strips to the bottom and across the grain.

The main time spent with this was after the mortise fitting was accomplished, it had to be modified to allow for the 10 degree slant.  To help me focus on the right areas, I placed a piece of masking tape about 3/16” from the short side of the mortise.  Then on the opposite side and the opposite end, place another piece of tape same distance.  This diagram should give you the idea:

Now the long task with my rasp to remove the wood that will allow the mortise to let the treadle rest in the 10 degree position.

With that accomplished I moved on to work on the head which will butt against the bridge to hold the piece that I will be attacking with the draw knife.  For this piece I used a 2 x 8 cut to 10 inches.  I drew the mortise to allow the head to fit on the tenon and cut it out on my jig saw.  Next the rasp to fit correctly, and then the final adjustment for the 10 degree slant.  After this was fitted, I cut a spruce 2 x 4 to attach to the underside of the head to increase the surface area for the pressure that the head will apply to the bridge.  No glue, just two screws through the back area of the 2 x 4 into the bottom of the head and placed cross grain to the head.  Then I cut off the sharp edges and shaped a 'bull nose' using my hand plane.

Spruce is a soft wood and will form somewhat to what it is holding.  Also if it should become gnarled, I can replace it easily.  Some examples show a leather facing added for friction.

Next I placed the treadle and the head on the arm snuggly,  and drew a line on each side of the tenons to reference the area for the dowel wedges that will lock the assemble together.  Mark the center of these lines on one side and with a 1/2" drill bit in my drill press, and the table tilted to 10 degrees,

I drilled through the tenon such that the outer diameter of the drill bit crosses the line about 1/8" on the top side and will exit the other side about 1/4" across the line.

With a 1/2" dowel, my 'home made' angle fence, and my table saw, I cut a 10 degree slice to the dowel.

After I checked the fit into the hole for the treadle, I marked the dowel for length and cut that part off.

The same process works for the dowel used to lock the head onto the arm.

Now I have the parts of the puzzle that will allow me to approximate the mortise in the bridge and the place to drill the hole in the bridge which is the pivot point for the arm.  Once I figured that out, I placed the bridge on my table saw.  I set the fence to be 2 13/16" from the blade.  I had marked the beginning and ending of the mortise on the bridge.  By raising the saw blade to the highest possible position, I could place two short pieces of tape on the fence at the points where the blade of the saw meets the table.

Now I lowered the table saw blade beneath the table and placed the bridge on the table saw against the fence.  With the saw running, I raised the blade slowly to allow it to cut through the bridge to the highest position for the blade.  Next the bridge was very slowly moved forward and backward until the marks on the bridge were aligned with the marks on the fence.  With this achieved, I turned the saw off, removed the bridge, and turned the bridge around but NOT to flip it over.  I want the same face up for both of these cuts.  Lower the blade, put the bridge against the fence, turn the saw on again, and make the second cut just as the first.  With a chisel I removed wood at each end of the mortise to complete the removal of that material not needed.

Once more I returned to the horse with the bridge, the arm, and some random pieces as risers.  With the arm inserted through the new mortise in the bridge and some pieces of different thickness I was able to determine the place of attachment for the bridge to the far end of the horse, and the location of the 1/2" hole for the iron rod through the bridge which supports the arm. 

To drill the hole through the bridge, I used a 1/2" bit that is about 12" long on my drill press in the horizontal position.  I think it would be almost impossible to use a regular length bit and drill each edge of the bridge hoping to have a path for the iron rod that will allow it to slide through.  I attached the bridge to the far end of the horse at the place I marked by using an old door hinge.

This will allow me to remove the pin should I ever wish to disassemble the unit in the future.  With the arm once again inserted in the bridge with the head and treadle attached, I used a large 1/4"  nail, like a spike, and slid it into the 1/2" hole in the bridge.  This allows me to position the arm with the bridge risen into a comfortable height and tap the nail so I make a final mark for the hole in the arm.  I removed the treadle, pulled the arm out of the bridge, and drilled the 1/2" hole in the arm on the drill press which insures perpendicular.

The 1/2" rod I got at Lowe's was 3 feet long.  I used the width of the 2 x 8 bridge plus about 1/4" extra on each end to allow it to have a washer and a pin, then cut it to length.  I inserted it into the bridge, put the washers on each end, and marked where to drill the 3/32" hold for the small cotter pins to be inserted.  Finally at my grinder, I beveled the ends so they would be slightly rounded.

The final part for my horse is the riser to the bridge.  The diagram I was referencing suggested a 7 1/2" riser, so I cut a 2 x 8 for a 7" length and a 2 x 4 to a 7" length.  On the 2 x 4 I removed a corner area 1 1/2" by 1 1/2".  Next the two pieces are attached with a couple of 3" screws by placing the notched end of the 2 x 4 to the edge of the 2 x 8 and centered.

This will allow the riser to be moved forward or back to make very minor adjustments to the height of the end of the bridge where I am working.  It also allows me to shorten the riser since it is not permanently attached.  This was good because I have already removed about 2 inches from the riser so that the bridge is not quite so high.

Another nice part of this design is that the rod that allows the arm to swing back and forth is located in the bridge rather than the bench.  This gives the operator the ease of adjusting the bridge up or down such that the work is adjusted to the person using the horse, without changing the position of the head to the bridge.  Also it will generate greater pressure by the head onto the material being worked, and minimizes the length of the mortise cut into the bridge.  The hole in the arm is located more toward the front edge and this results in the arm returning to the upright position when released, allowing the work piece to be moved without the operator having to pull the treadle with a foot movement.  The bench of the horse automatically provides a mortise for the arm, the movable riser, and the movable seat.

Already I think I might need another hole in the arm in order to adjust the distance between the head and the bridge, but I will wait until I have the need for that based on the thickness of the material I might be working with.

I sincerely hope this will help others make a horse of their own.

Thanks for viewing my blog......Bob

Materials (these are before cutting to exact measure) :

2 x 4 pine:  1 - 7" Riser support
                    1 - 6 1/2" Seat Support
                    2 - 22" Back Legs
      spruce:  1 - 8" Head (Bull Nose)

2 x 6 pine:  2 - 56" Bench
                    1 - 22" Front Leg
                    1 - 6" Back Spacer
                    1 - 30" Arm
                    1 - 18" Seat

2 x 8 pine:  1 - 34" Bridge
                    1 - 10" Head
                    1 - 7" Riser

4 quarter Cypress 9" wide & 10" long  (Treadle)

1/2" Iron rod (or Dowel) 8 1/2"  
1/2" Washers 2
Cotter Pins  2 - 1 1/4"
1/2" wooden dowel  24" (to lock head and treadle on arm)
1 door hinge 4"
2 1/2" & 3" deck screws