Friday, 8 February 2013

Just trotting....

A few more hours spent on the Smarthead shave horse today has seen all of the joinery completed and now only some finishing touches required before it's ready for our Coopered Bucket Course on the 23rd.
Repressing my desperate need for over embellishment, I hid my screw-box then suppressed the memory of where I had hidden it. So with pure utilitarian thoughts coursing through my head, I inserted plain dowels with no threads and raided the scrap bin again for odd bits of timber to use for the clamping head.
A very nice piece of Messmate reared it's head, seemingly calling out to be shaped into the head. Being heavily figured with a very nice fiddle back grain, I rejected it at first, reciting my 'Keep it Simple' mantra in my head. But hang on a minute I thought, Shakers use figured timber too. It's just the way they used it that mattered.

I quickly squared, cut and laminated the head together after cutting the through mortise for the pegged tenon. While the lamination was setting up I marked out, drilled, measured and turned the two stretchers for the front and back legs. By this time the head had set and I shaped it quickly on the router table.The middle of the head needs to be a little more narrow for my liking, but I'll work that out tomorrow.

The Blackwood in stretchers and legs was some that I had collected on my trip to Otways with Pete Galbert, Murray Kidman and Carl Karascay. My crafty sub-conscious will always find a way to make these things have meaning to me.....

One of the more important factors of the way this, or any shave horse works, is the balance of the clamping mechanism. You want the head to lift and the treadle to return somewhat close to vertical when pressure is taken off the foot lever or treadle plate.

When balanced properly the operator merely has to shift the weight of his foot on the treadle to be able to turn the workpiece then re-apply pressure to clamp. It makes for very quick work in shaping spindles or any other chair parts for that matter.

So with this in mind I found the angle I wanted for the treadle plate, then raided the wood pile again. This time I grabbed a lump of Elm, partly because of the weight, partly its size and mainly due to its strength and interlocking grain. I don't want this treadle to give way any time soon.

I cut the through mortise purposefully forward of centre so that at present it is heavily overbalanced underneath. Tomorrow I will merely trim the back of the treadle incrementally until I get the balance just how I want it. Then a quick hand plane over the lot, trim the dowels, arris all the edges and seal it with a splash of something or other to keep the marks off and this horse will be ready for it's first good run. Giddyup!

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