How to Make a Benchtop Shaving Horse

benchtop shaving horse

The benchtop shaving horse can be used standing or on a tall stool.

I ran across this Benchtop Shaving Horse the other day in an old Living Woods magazine. It was designed by Nick Gibbs for the Forest Education Initiative in the U.K., based on an idea for standing horses shown in an earlier Living Woods by James Mursell and Bob Slade. What makes this interesting is that it’s great if you don’t have a whole lot of room in your shop and is very simple–just a piece of wood clamped to your bench with a jaw attached. This allows you to jump into drawknife and spokeshave work quickly and easily.

Details on the diagram below:

  • The shaving horse clamps to the top of the bench.
  • A bar (not shown in drawing below) screwed at 90° to the backbone (A) of the horse stops it from pivoting from side to side a bit, and could be used in a vise.
  • benchtop-horse-3The two cheeks or uprights (B) are 11/16″ or 3/4″ thick shuttering ply (concrete form plywood) cut 3 15/16 in wide, but could be from a pallet.
  • The jaw (C) and pedal (D) are the same stock as the backbone (A), screwed and glued in place, though the author recommends you play around with angles first to find the best position before gluing permanently.
  • The 7/8″ holes in the cheeks and backbone were positioned randomly. You’ll soon find the best location.

The benchtop shaving horse (or pony) is really easy to make. Use your own dimensions to suit the materials you have and the size of user.


The main parts of this shaving horse are made from 2x3s, but you can use whatever you like. The uprights are 11/16″ or 3/4″ ply. You will need to adjust the dimensions to suit your bench, the timber you have and how you like to work


(The original measurements were all done in millimeters, so we have converted some of the measurements to English ones.)

What do you think? Is this a viable solution? Have you made something like this? I have not built one yet but I plan to. So if you beat me to it, let me know how you like it!

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