When Life Hands You Hickory

Along with some walnut logs I was collecting a couple weeks ago, there was a bonus hickory log. When I split it, it was clear and straight. The new edition of Make a Chair From a Tree by Jennie Alexander has had me itching to shave some posts and rungs, and this log provided the perfect opportunity. At around 28″, not long enough for the back posts of a full chair, but I thought of the one-slat truncated version that I saw in some photos in the book. I had to get to it; hickory isn’t decay resistant, so it wouldn’t be good to keep it green for long. So the idea was to get the parts shaved down so they could start to dry.

It was nice to be back at the shaving horse I built way-back-when based on JA’s instructions. Another piece of equipment that comes in handy is the folding sawbuck. The upper arms don’t need to be that long, but I just haven’t cut them off for some reason. I had found the plans online and made mine from former playhouse pieces.

I usually use the sawbuck for crosscutting logs, then fold it back up. I rarely rive any pieces long enough to require a riving break, but this folding sawbuck actually does the trick decently.

The stock can be placed in the gap at the top and pressure applied downward to flex the stock while levering the split open with the froe. This hickory didn’t require much finessing anyway.

Three posts ready for shaving.

With some of the odd leftover bits of the hickory log, I roughed out a few gluts to help split that walnut.

The chair posts and rungs are shaved and are airing out a bit until I get back to them sometime. No rush now. I think I’ll have enough parts for two chairs.

Some of the green shaved hickory rungs on the left with some split-out pieces to the right. I use the straight 3/4″ piece laying on top to help check the rungs for straightness and thickness as I shave. I can strike pencil lines from it onto the rung blank as well.
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5 Responses to When Life Hands You Hickory

  1. Tone says:

    Coincidentally I made a saw buck, or saw horse as we call them, last year. A fun project. Mine doesn’t fold. I made it with green hazel poles, so I don’t expect it to last a long time. Fortunately it doesn’t need to, I normally use a Wolfcraft/Oregon – style metal frame for chainsaw safety and efficiency but I need to process a lot of smaller diameter hazel into firewood and it doesn’t cut well with a chainsaw. So I will process it with a handsaw. I normally use a metal bush saw for firewood but I picked up a very coarse, used, modern, panel saw at a carboot sale which works very well on the small diameter hazel poles.


  2. Tone says:

    I made a Euro-style dumb head shave horse some years ago another satisfying project and it is a useful tool for processing green wood. However, along with my Dave Fisher style 😉 log bowl horse, they take up a lot of space. I shortened my shave horse a few years ago, as the front was unnecessarily long. I think you English- style shave horse is a lot more compact and transportable, I suspect it might work better for the type of work I most do too – so I think that might be a future project :). My son doesn’t want me to get rid of the dumb head shave horse though!


    • Dave Fisher says:

      My English-style shaving horse is longer than it needs to be. If I made another, I could certainly make it six inches or maybe even a foot shorter. Thanks for sharing your experiences. Nice that your son has become attached to the shaving horse.


  3. Bobs Email says:


    One-Slat Post & Rungs are made for purpose or because of stock limits. Years ago, the WoodClub I belonged to had a challenge: “Make whatever you want from a single 8’ 2×4 and one other material.” I used Madrone (Pacific Coastal wood) and got 1-slat, 2-front legs, 2-longer rear legs, and 8-rungs. The rear legs are short and the slat hits the small of the back. I used Shaker tape to weave the seat.


    Sent from my iPad



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