One of the things I love about how chairmaker Chris Williams works is that he tries – at every turn – to reduce the tools and contrivances needed to build a chair. One of the big things he offers is that you don’t need a shavehorse to make sticks, stretchers or legs.
Instead, you use a small block of wood in your vise and a block plane to do all the shaving.
I have 100 percent embraced this method from Chris (and John Brown), and I encourage you to give it a try.
Of course, I had to tweak the process a bit for my own liking. Instead of a flat block of wood, I plowed a V-groove in mine, which helps prevent the stick from wandering as you rotate it.
Honestly, you don’t need the V-groove to make this work, but it is nice.
— Christopher Schwarz