Roy Underhill’s Antique Shave Horse
As you would expect, Roy Underhill’s shop at the 19th-century mill he and his wife, Jane, call home, is chock-full of interesting vintage tools for all aspects of the woodworking trade.
This morning, he moved a 19th-century shave horse out to the shop’s back porch so I could get a good look at it and snap these photos. More than an appliance, this horse is a clever bit of engineering using some found materials, and it’s also a work of art.
It’s constructed of dogwood, oak and hickory, with a chestnut beam. The dumbhead and far legs are from crooks in a tree, and the foot-actuated clamp engages a wire attached to a thin wand that bends rather like a traditional recurve bow for archery to securely hold a workpiece under the head.
As you can see in several of the pictures here, Roy is sitting on a sawbench that is rather higher than what is likely the original working position. The legs are, Roy suspects, much shorter now than when the appliance was made, perhaps due to rot. So while the working position is now a bit odd (and I suspect somewhat uncomfortable after a short stretch), the device remains useable and, other than the leg height, in good working order.
— Megan Fitzpatrick