Catching up with the Bowl Horse


There are many ways to get to a bowl horse.  If you’re still thinking about adding one to your shop, I’ll recap some of the options, including some new possibilities.

My first bowl horse concept, seen in the photo above, was a simple adaptation of my Jennie Alexander English style shaving horse.  It achieved the key principal I had in mind — holding end to end.  I detailed that story in a post a few years ago.  With a little ingenuity, many standard shaving horses can be adapted to function as bowl horses.  Here’s another example:

Horse Adaptation_NEW

For Plymouth CRAFT classes we adapted Pret Woodburn’s shave horses by adding a sled of sorts (blue) above the folded flat work surface.  Only requires one screw to attach that also achieves the length adjustment.  In the end we constructed the body of the sled a bit differently due to the materials on hand, but it doesn’t really matter.  The only other thing required was to screw a board between the two swing arms.


But let’s back up a bit before the Plymouth adaptations.  In 2004 I designed and made the log-on-legs bowl horse that still serves in my workshop today.  Last year, I wrote a post about how I made it.

Shortly after making the log horse, I designed this more portable bowl horse and made it from dimensional lumber.  I wrote an article about it that was published in 2008.  The article and plans are still available on my website here.

What has been so wonderful since then is to see how other carvers have adapted the concept to the materials they have on hand and/or to their unique situations.  Many of these creative solutions can be seen at the “Other’s Horses” page of my website.  A recent example is a horse made by Dwight Beebe, who was in my bowl class in Plymouth last June.

Dwight Beebe Bowl Horse

Dwight Beebe’s bowl horse, adapted to a Tim Manney style base.

Dwight’s base is inspired by Tim Manney‘s design and can host a regular shave horse, or Dwight can pop that off and put on the bowl horse attachment as in the photo above.

Dwight Beebe Bowl Horse with Spoon Mule

Dwight can also attach a spoon mule based on plans by Dawson Moore.

Of course, a lot of folks are short on space and Mike Loeffler has been keeping me posted on a handy folding bowl horse design he’s been developing.  The whole thing hangs on the wall until you need it:

Mike L horse on wall

Mike L horse

Then it comes off the wall and you’ve got a bowl horse.  Mike said it will hold up to a 18″ long bowl, but the plans can easily be modified to stretch the horse if you want more range.

Mike L horse plans

Mike has worked hard to make high quality clear plans for his horse and has them available now on his website.

And if you’d rather have a bowl horse built for you, Mark Hicks of Plate 11 Bench Co.  has added that to his services offered.

Just to be clear, I have no deals or partnerships at all with either Mike or Mark, and I have not used their plans or horses.  I’m just trying to inform folks of some possibilities.  So if you have any questions about their services or products, contact them.  I’m sure they’ll be happy to talk with you, they’re really nice guys.

You can carve bowls without a bowl horse, but if you want one, there are plenty of options.

Catching up with the Bowl Horse