I was expecting plenty of response to the post “In praise of the homegrown shavehorse” which is a good thing as I want to encourage folk to debate and think about what they’re doing. I thought the first reply warranted a longer reply than is possible in the comments section.
‘r francis’ wrote:
Your ignorance amazes me. The original mule design was by Brian Boggs and made to do the job better and to help him with a back problem. Look up what he designed and how it works.
Both designs have their place. The differences are as apparent as the differences in the finished products made with them
Actually, I was aware that Brian Boggs originally designed a sawn-wood shavehorse but just to check it hadn’t changed I followed your advice and looked it up here. Below you can see the design alongside a picture of me on my own shavehorse for comparison.
The site boasts the innovative new features of this “hybrid design” but I am at a loss to see any that aren’t present in my own horse; the “full adjustability” in the cross piece and support heights, easy assembly (I don’t need the adjustable wrenches), extended work support and compactness are all there. No, I don’t have a “padded genuine leather seat” but I then I can easily add a cushion if I feel that way inclined and I’ve seen plenty of examples of horses with wide comfortable seats carved into them. If your horse has a narrow seat then use a wider plank like the little girl on the ‘clydesdale’. As for the idea that the foot crossbar “requires the user to fully extend a leg in order to get a good grip on a work-piece” this is simply a matter of ensuring you have the support and cross piece set to the appropriate positions for the size of the work – the kayak stringer I’m making in the picture is only ¾” but it’s securely held and my legs are comfortably bent. To avoid back problems you need a device that is made to suit your body size which is only possible if you make it yourself.
My main point though, which you seem to have missed, is that in making my shavehorse I used a whole lot of greenwood working techniques that I wouldn’t have learned by buying or making the mule, skills which are then essential for going on to actually produce chairs and other products from parts made on the shavehorse. What those finished products look like is down to the skill of the user, not the design of the workbench.