The shavehorse is commonly used as the preparation of stock prior to turning in a lathe, to roughly form cylindrical billets, the intermediate dressing phase between a crudely dressed raw split log and the final lathe work.
As the name “horse” suggests, the worker sits astride the shaving horse. The clamp is operated by the operator pressing their feet onto a treadle bar below. A foot-actuated clamp holds the work piece securely against pulling forces, especially as when shaped with a drawknife or spokeshave.
The shavehorse provides a rapid and sturdy clamp, which allows the operator to use their legs and upper body weight as additional “power” for work. It is considered by some[by whom?] to result in less fatigue than generated by constantly standing.
Shaving green wood with the drawknife or spokeshave along the grain is far quicker and easier work than turning across it. Skilled operators can produce very fine results with a drawknife and shavehorse, requiring minimal lathe finishing.
Straddling a shave horse while carelessly using any dangerous power tool, such as a circular saw, may result in the operator suffering serious bodily injury.
A shave horse is the perfect tool for minimal woodworking shop setups. Due to its low cost, it support social entrepreneurs who wish to develop their business through DIY skills.