The last couple of weeks have been rather busy. But I did find some time to work on the shave horse. As it turns out the vast majority of that time was in sharpening tools, a drawknife in particular.

When I last wrote, the seat blank ‘bowl’ was carved, and I needed to cut the sweeps at the front to accomodate my legs as I sit on the seat.

Seat blank ready for carving the sweeps

Seat blank ready for carving the sweeps

The efficient way to do this is with a sharp drawknife, but as I wrote I only had three dull ones. Seeing this as an opportunity to learn technique for cutting sweeps, I decided to sharpen a drawkinfe.

Learning about Drawknife Sharpening

I started making a jig to help me grind the blade of drawknives to create a hollow grind, but I was so enthused about making progress on the seat, I decided to go ahead and try creating a hollow grind on the back and front of a knife freehand (cue ominous music).

I picked my oldest and roughest looking drawknife, which was probably the right decision, since I had zero experience. But in hindsight I think it meant I persevered with a knife I probably should have abandoned.

I don’t have many pictures, mostly because I didn’t realize what I was getting into. I created what I thought would be a good enough hollow grind on the back of the blade, with the idea it would speed sharpening by letting me just flatten the edge and a place much further away from the edge. The pitting was so bad I ended up removing the entire hollow grind by the time I was done. I won’t say how long it took, partly because I started at much too fine a grit, not realizing how much material I’d have to remove.

A long time later, I had a flat back, though you can see there is still pitting that I don’t believe will affect it’s performance.

Drawknife back finally flat and polished

Drawknife back finally flat and polished

I also hollow ground the front edge, again freehand. I thought I was good to go.

Drawknife front edge with a hollow grind

Drawknife front edge with a hollow grind

I suspect the freehand approach and my lack of skill is why some of the hollow grind was gone by the time I got the front edge sharp.

Some parts of the hollow grind were completely removed

Some parts of the hollow grind were completely removed

Drawknife front edge sharp and polished

Drawknife front edge sharp and polished

I also made myself take the time to clean up the handles with a thorough sanding and applied some finish to avoid dirt and grit getting into the wood.

Drawknife with handles cleaned up and finished

Drawknife with handles cleaned up and finished

Finishing the seat

After finally getting a drawknife sharp, I used it to carve the sweeps in the front of the seat.

Seat with sweeps rough carved

Seat with sweeps rough carved

I then went back to the scorp to shape and blend the sweeps into the rest of the ‘bowl’.

Scorped seat including the sweeps

Scorped seat including the sweeps

I also spent time learning about using a travisher, which was just as counterintuitive to use at first as I’d read (you tilt it forward to reduce/stop the cutting action). I also learned just how much you need to skew the tool to get it to cut cleanly. After some work with card scrapers, I had the seat essentially shaped. Life prevented woodworking for a few days, but today I found time to ease the ‘point’ at the center downward into the bowl to give a more comfortable shape, using scorp, card scraper, and finishing with sandpaper.

With the work requiring holdfasts complete, I cut the excess from the back of the seat, cleaned up the edges with my spokeshaves & sandpaper, and mounted the seat on the ‘fin’ that lets it slide along the two rails of the shavehorse with a friction fit. Happily, the seat fits well, and is quite comfortable.

Finished shavehorse

Finished shavehorse