Green Woodworking: Build a Shavehorse

Steve Habersetzer
& Greg Kossow



Using wood directly from the tree is one of the most fun and instructive ways of working with wood. We believe that this should be people's first experience of working with wood - we teach this as the first segment of our 12-week Foundation class. Some people never get beyond the immediacy of Green Woodworking.

Green woodworking uses freshly felled or cut material with a mix of some older air dried material to make useful and beautiful furniture. You'll learn some of the traditional methods of working with green wood. Machines are conspicuously absent (except, briefly, the bandsaw and maybe the chainsaw). You split and rive the wood from logs using froes, and wedges. 

There are two tools that lie at the heart of greenwoodworking - the drawknife and the shavehorse. We'll teach you how to use and maintain a drawknife and you'll build your own shavehorse.

The only way to learn these skills is to try the process under the watchful eye of skilled instructors. Steve Habersetzer and Greg Kossow have worked extensively with green wood. 

Note: We teach the first three days of this class to the Washington Consevation Corps once or twice a year and we can offer to other organizations or schools as a team building / confidence building class with about three months notice. Feel free to contact us if you are interested in a custom class.

Class Description

Days 1-3: Building a Three Legged Stool

From log to stool in a three days. After a short introduction we start you working on creating a three legged stool from a large Douglas Fir log.

  • Bucking the log to length
  • Splitting and riving leg and stretcher blanks from the log
  • Selecting boards for the stool seats
  • Shaping the legs and stretchers
  • Drilling the bores and counter bores in the seats
  • Rounding and shaping the seats
  • Putting tenons on the legs and stretchers
  • Boring the legs for the stretchers
  • Making wedges
  • Assembly and levelling the stools
  • Sharpening and tool maintenance

Days 4-5: Building a Shavehorse

In the final two days of the class you use the experience from the first part of the course to build a shave horse. We'll prepare a kit with the major components so they're ready to go. You'll make the legs for your shavehorse and then we'll work as teams to do the joinery and assemble the shave horses. Final installation of the legs and head can wait until you get home to simplify transport.

The School built 12 shavehorses in the Winter of 2013. You can see pictures here. 



The School has enough tools for everybody to work with during the class. We do recommend that you bring along a drawknife so that you can learn how the tool works and is sharpened.

However if you have any of the tools feel free to bring them along and we'll teach you how to tune them up. Plus it's always fun to see what old tools turn up.

  • Splitting tools: Froe, hatchet, wedges and mallet
  • Cutting tools: Two-man cross cut saw and small handsaws
  • Shaping / smoothing tools: Drawknives, adzes, spokeshaves, scorps, and travishers
  • Boring tools: Augers
  • Tenoning Tools: Chisels, floats and rasps

Safety Equipment / Clothing:

A good part of the first day of this course takes place outdoors and you will be working physically hard. Please bring sturdy boots, workgloves and outdoor clothing - layers are good and you may need a rainjacket. The school will provide protective eyeware and hearing protection.


This is a class for the absolute beginners. No experience needed. Just common sense and enthusiasm. This class is a little more physically challenging than most of our classes but should not overtax anyone.

Class Information and Registration

Class starts at 9:00am on the first day.

This class takes place in Building 306 at Fort Worden - not the School Building. Map

Please read our What to Expect page for general information about the School.

Please also read our Registration Policy.

Class size: 10

Cost: $675

Materials Charge: $250

When you click on the Register link you will be able to register for the class or, if the class is full, sign up for the wait list.