I was always a little afraid of the draw knife. In no small part, this was because the way my dad and grandpa used it seemed weird and unsafe. In fact, I said so once and got in trouble for my cheek. Grandpa and dad tended to brace the piece of wood they were shaving between their stomachs and a table and scrape away.
|Image Source: Wikimedia Commons|
Note: Sadly, the hovering shaving horse didn’t pan out, so I put legs on mine.
Is it period-appropriate for a 16th century cooper?
I was a bit surprised to discover that this is a controversial question in certain circles.
A rudimentary shaving horse is depicted in use in the 1556 book De Re Metallica. For the record, it’s shown being utilized by a miner to make bertte, a wood billet with shavings left attached to be used as fire-starters. In the case of the miners in the etching, to light fires in a mine to fracture rock.
|Bertie makes the best bertte in all of Bavaria!|
The bertte maker is the image of a shaving horse most bandied about in these discussions online. And I thought it might be the only one in existance until I paged through the Mendel Hausbuch and noticed that half the coopers in the book are using a shaving horse of some sort.
|Photo Source: Stadtbibliothek Nuernberg|
So there’s a cooper at work, his tools in the background, including a shaving horse. Case closed as far as I’m concerned. More pictures of the same foot vice here and here. Since the monk in the second image is using his as a sort of ersatz workbench, you can see the whole thing in profile, including the arrangement of the foot pedal and vice dog.
This is mine…
It’s worth nothing that none of the shaving horses I’ve found have the angled surface that mine (and every other shaving horse I’ve ever seen) has. That slanted piece makes shaving with knife or spokeshave easier, but would preclude using the horse as a work surface as that second monk was doing.
It might be a later addition to the design; I’m not sure and don’t have any data one way or the other on that topic. Mine has the slanted second level and I’m not planning to remove it so we’ll make a note of it and move on.
I was flipping through NetFlix videos and found an episode of Dirty Jobs where he learned to make a wine barrel. Hilarity ensues…