I was rooting around in the basement last weekend, and came upon a blast from the past: an attachment for my English-style shaving horse. It was the beginning of the idea that ultimately resulted in my bowl horse. Since writing the article, I’ve enjoyed hearing from others that have built their own bowl horses, either directly from the plans or some modified version. I really like using the bowl horse, but it is only beneficial for some operations. Some may not want to go to the trouble of building one, or may not have the room.
When I saw that old board, I thought it might be useful to share how I used it before building my more specialized bowl horse. Granted, the real bowl horse works better, but I made quite a few bowls with the original adaptation, and it only takes a half hour to make and doesn’t take up much room. So, if you’ve already got a shaving horse, you may be able to adapt it along these lines.
This is the shaving horse I built years ago based on plans from Jennie Alexander. It’s a very simple design, and still works well on the occasions I make a chair or something.
A couple clamps and a board are all I used to convert it into a horse that could hold a bowl from end-to-end. A thicker board, and/or a heavier horse, would improve solidity.
I just shaped a block of wood and attached it with screws. The block of wood could easily be replaced by a vertical upright supported by a brace behind it.
The swing arm now forces the bowl against the end block, holding it place for work with the drawknife or spokeshave.
Temporarily screwing a board onto the arm assembly is a simple option that increases the surface area of the far jaw.
Adjust for any size bowl by loosening the clamps and sliding the board.
It is nice to have a variety of holding options in terms of benches and accessories in the workshop, especially if one is making many different bowl designs. Still, while I had the shaving horse out, I thought about how I might be able to simply adapt the English shaving horse in additional ways for bowl work.
Simply dropping the support table creates a stop. Sitting astride the bowl like this could allow certain operations to be done.
Boring a few 3/4″ holes along the length of the bench allows for the use of holdfasts.
The holes can also be used for pegs and wedges. Adze work could be done in this position, but would be more ideal if the bench were a little wider and beefier.
While sitting at the back of the bench, work with the drawknife was reasonably comfortable.
And it was such a nice winter weekend, I knocked together one of these. I’ve seen different versions of this concept in photos, including Robin Wood’s BowlMate. Should make it nice to do some roughing outside without lugging benches out of the shop.