When I make early chairs, I prefer a surface finish for the legs and spindles that is faceted and created by shaving instead of turning.
I also use sandpaper to help me see what I’m doing (he wrote, pausing and waiting to be slapped by an unseen hand). So here’s what’s going on in the photo above.
I don’t own a shavehorse because I don’t have enough room in my shop. My shaving pony ran away many years ago, or is hiding in our basement. So I make spindles and legs in my leg vise. It is slower than using a shavehorse, but you get pretty good at it. Don’t let the lack of a shavehorse stop you from making chairs.
On the leg above, I have turned the tapered tenon on my lathe and have added a small V-shaped notch where the tenon diameter will more than fill its mortise. The notch is a reminder to stop shaving at that point.
I taper the leg with a spokeshave. Then I finish with a gunstock scraper, which is the tool I’m using in the photo. Once I get the surface looking semi-acceptable, I remove the leg from the vise and quickly hand-sand the shaved section with #150-grit (the grit isn’t really important). This creates a powdery, dull finish on the leg.
Then I put the leg back in the vise and shave the leg to its final surface with the gunstock scraper. The sanded sections of the legs peel away and I can see exactly what needs to be shaved and can make the facets nice and semi-regular.
In reading what I just wrote above, I sound like a fussbudget. But I do this operation to save time and prevent me from over-shaving sections of the leg or spindle.
— Christopher Schwarz