Monday, January 26, 2009

Shave horse in progress, and other things.

So, there are various things I'm working on. Too many of them are shop projects, and not paying projects, but that's a topic for another day.

One of those shop projects is a shave horse. For those of you who've never really heard of one of those before, it's basically a large, foot operated clamp, with a place to sit. The clamp holds the work pointed more or less at the operator, so that he or she may use a spokeshave or drawknife to shape it. There are varitions on the theme, and a couple of different ways of making them, but the one I'm working on was developed by Brian Boggs, a chairmaker who works (worked?) out of Berea, Kentucky. I took a class with Brian a year and a half ago, and I'm still in awe. He's one of those smart people who has done a lot of work to understand the things that he does. And watching him with a tool in his hand is really something to see. It's not every day that you get to see someone at work who is so familar with his craft as Brian is. He shapes wood with more fluency than some people have at tying their shoes. But I digress... Again, a topic for another day.

So far, I've built the base to the shave horse. It looks vaguely like an amputee sawhorse. I haven't put the seat together yet, which is one of the next steps, so I can fit the rest of the pieces involved. And, just for a goof, I hung a pair of hex nuts between the back legs. Dumb guy humor, but it works for me.

Yes, the back end sits up higher than the front end. yes, it's sort-of on purpose. One of the features of Brian's shave-horses is a seat the tilts forward, to re-align the spine, to make work less tiring. That's one of hte problems with sitting at or on a bench or stool, or anything flat. To sit up straight, you either have to shove your back end way out behind you, or curve the lumbar section of your spine forward, out of the normal recurve position. On most shavehorses, which are flat, you have to lean forward to work. I've tried this, and it's tiring... and the lower back does complain. I tried Brian's solution, and clamped on a simple board, shimmed up in the back. It makes a huge difference. The ideas behind my decision to have the back end higher up are the following:

1) Folks who have to have the seat farther back will have longer legs than I do, and they'll probably appreciate a little more elevation

2) It angles the seat a little bit already, so shaping a seat that's angled will be easier.

3) The back legs started out a little long anyway. I sat down, and liked the angle, so I left it, but it also saved me from having to cut hte legs down again.

Once the horse is finished up, I have a few other things I need to make to put together a chair building outfit, like a steam box, and a kiln for drying parts, and some bending forms, and so on. But one thing at a time.

In other news, I spent the past day and a half of shop time re-arranging my work space, to get the basics all within arms reach. The basic idea is taken from numerous sources of shop management, including the infamous Toyota Production System, and the concept is pretty simple. Wasted movement is wasted time and effort. Minimize walking around. Keep important tools close at hand. This is something I read about, but was already on the way to figuring out for myself... I called the problem a case of "the bumblebees." Essentially, I spent a lot of time in my first shop buzzing around for one tool or another, which was either stored in the wrong place (across the shop) or had been left in the wrong place when I'd used it last. The second part I'm working on by using a pouch to carry things like tape measure, 6" combination square, pencil, marking knife... to have these things with me when I'm in the machine room and need to measure something. It's helping, some. Other times, I take the pouch out, and leave it somewhere, and then I'm right back at square one. Ugh.

So, refinements to the space continue, but I think it's finaly starting to get somewhere.

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