Shave horse? Do what? Yes it is a strange name for a tool but there you have it. Since I often mention that my chairs parts are either made at my lathe or traditional shave horse I might better explain a little about the latter one.
Here is a picture of me sitting on my shave horse. It is operated by foot pressure on a wooden leaver that closes a leather wrapped wooden jaw that in turn holds a piece of wood that can then be shaped. Why not just use a vise, you ask? Well this tool allows me to orient a piece of wood in virtually any position I need to shape it without damaging it. It also allows me to run a tool across my work piece in a way that a vise would never allow. One added benefit is that I have lots of leverage to make smooth cuts.
A typical piece that would be shaped on this would range from a post on a traditional chair, like my french farm house style chairs, or an arm on a Danish lounge chair, such as the ch44. Basically any part that has rounded and curved shapes. I like to think of this tool as the old world version of the modern CNC machine. It truly allows me to sculpt wood rather than just machine it.
Below is a close up of the use of a draw knife, which is typically pulled but can be pushed as well. It looks like a crude tool but it is actually capable of making precise cuts. It is used in the initial shaping of a piece then followed by finer cutting tools such as the spoke shave I am using in the picture above.