Books: Shaving Horses by Hellman

From Living Woods issue 51

DAN WATSON is inspired by a treasure trove
of green woodworking ideas

Sean Hellman
Crafty Little Press
130 pages
400 colour illustrations
ISBN 978-0993186110
RRP £16.95

I have been coppicing and carrying
out woodland crafts for over 20
years, spending a considerable
amount of time sat astride my trusty
shave horse and thought I had a
pretty good idea about how to
hold a bit of wood while shaping
my work. However, Sean’s book is a
veritable treasure trove of ideas and
inspiration for crafters of any ability.

It is a practical, instructive book with
plans, diagrams, and clear working
guidance for making shaving horses,
the functional, traditional, wooden
clamping devices upon which the
woodworker sits astride whilst crafting
a piece of wood.

Sean has spent most of his working
life hand-crafting useful and beautiful
items from green wood, learning by
doing and through trial and error. He
is one of the most skilled and highly
respected green woodworkers in the
country who, by his own admission,
‘fell in love with shaving horses and
the tools used for making green wood
artefacts’. The use of a shaving horse is
only one part in the process of making
and it can be adapted to numerous
applications, from chair components
to gypsy flowers, baskets to cleft
fencing rails and many more. The use
of a shaving horse often goes hand-inhand
with the necessity to hold and
clamp wood in other ways too, and
this book also examines a selection of
these devices.

Sean looks at the history of shave
horse use and goes on to give details
about the tools needed to construct
your steed. With detailed how-to’s
for several designs of shave horse
and other devices, the
book also discusses the pros and
cons of various designs, together with
numerous modifications for a variety
of uses.

Subtitled ‘A Book of Plans
and Techniques for the Green
Woodworker,’ the book contains
more than 400 plans, illustrations
and photos that make it an excellent
reference resource and companion
to aid the selection and construction
of a shave horse or woodland vice
building project. In fact, I would go
as far as saying that this book is
essential! With the inclusion of useful
information on tool sharpening,
re-handling, different knife and tool
cuts and numerous other nuggets of
invaluable information and wisdom
gathered during a lifetime of green
woodworking, this book is a must
for any novice or experienced craft
worker. It is the most comprehensive
book written on the subject
that I have found and is highly
recommended – check out other titles
on the Crafty Little Press website.

Now, which design should I choose
for my next shaving horse?