Shaving Horse: The Improved Country Workshops Shaving Mule

Shaving Mules

Now available direct from the maker - Tom Donahey. Phone 828-421-8411.

Two Versions Now Available!

THIS HYBRID DESIGN combines elements from a traditional English bodger's shaving horse and the dumb-head
Zug Stuhl style of Alpine Europe. The result is a hard working cross breed that many woodworkers prefer compared to the more traditional versions. We call them mules.

Traditional bodgers’ shaving horses tend to be uncomfortable, with their narrow seat and foot bar that requires the user to fully extend a leg in order to get a good grip on a work-piece. The Country Workshops shaving mules have a wide, adjustable, leather upholstered seat, and a lateral foot treadle – borrowed from the dumb head design. The rotating jaw grips a work-piece much better than the dumb-head design, or the fixed jaw that’s common with less sophisticated bodgers horses. The jaw is also rectangular in section, resulting in a choice of two spacings between the jaw and he workpiece. We now have two versions of the mule to chose from. Both are made by Tom Donahey, and they actually share some interchangeable parts.

Our older mule design features an instantly adjustable, variable height work support that was developed by Asheville, NC chairmaker Brian Boggs. The quick work support height adjustment is a very attractive feature, but the main advantage isn’t immediately apparent. For any user there is an optimum ergonomic height and angle for efficient use of your tools —usually a drawknife or spokeshave. With conventional shaving horses where the head/jaw goes up and down for different stock thicknesses the user must adjust the height and angle of the tools. In contrast, when the work support adjusts it becomes possible to always use your tools at the most comfortable height and angle. This is the real (but often not recognized) significance of Brian’s system.

We have been offering Tom’s version of the ratchet support system since 1997. This was our first “mule.” Then, over the years, we have incorporated many modifications that make the mule even better — in use, durablility, and for comfort. Tom’s ratchet version is the shaving mule that is detailed in the plans set that is now available for no charge as a pdf.

We have no complaints with the ratchet mule. However, for years Drew was hoping find or invent an adjustable system for the work support that is not too complex or difficult to make for most woodworkers to make. The breakthrough was found in a little book from Japan about green woodworking written by our friend Masashi Kutsuwa. Masashi’s breakthrough utilizes two support planks that are hinged at opposite ends — forming a Z with the bench. Both height and angle of the work support can be set at any position. The height/angle of the work support is adjusted with a sliding spacer. A small bungee prevents the spacer from moving. In our version, the height/angle of the middle plank is adjusted with a rotating cam. It’s quick to adjust, but doesn’t move during use. You can now adjust the height and angle, without the constraint of the notches in the ratchet.

Which is better? We don’t have a favorite. Both shaving mules are made from #1 yellow pine, solid birch plywood, hard maple and sycamore (for the ratchet.) The padded seat is covered with genuine leather. The swinging lever with foot treadle and rotating jaw unit is identical for both, as is the sliding seat and the leg system.


  • Full adjustability. Both the work surface and pivoting cross bar can be raised or lowered to achieve an ergonomic work height for materials of widely varied dimensions.
  • Comfortable padded genuine leather seat slides to any position on the cross beams.
  • Large treadle extends back from the swinging arm, making our mule much easier to use compared to shaving horses with a foot cross bar.
  • Hardwood working parts.
  • Work support is extended in front of the clamp pivot making it possible to position and shave reverse grain stock in front of the pivot.
  • Assembles in minutes using 2 adjustable wrenches.
  • Compact for convenient storage.

TD-01 Shaving Mule (Picked up at Country Workshops)
TD-02 Shipped (45 pounds - Minor assembly required)

New Z Mule, assembled (Picked up at Country Workshops)


New Z Mule, disassembled and shipped. (Minor assembly required.)

*Plus zone rate on shipping chart

"Hi Drew,
I've just finished my first big job since geting the shaving mule from you. It worked so well ... and it's comfortable. Thank you and Thomas Donahey."
- Daniel Mack,Warwick, NY

How to Get Plans for the Orgami-Z Japanese Version

Shinsuke Kato is handling the Orgami-Z shaving horse orders. Go to:

The link above will take you to 'easypay' site.

If you proceed to click 'pay', you will get the plans by email. It is written both in Japanese and English, so the email might get stuck in the spam mail box, according to the setting of your computer.

You can download the file from the link in the email, up to 6 times.

Send us an enquiry to in case of any trouble.

1000 JPY is approximately 8 US dollars.
(Google '1000 yen to dollar' and you will get the latest rate!)

Shaving Mule Plans

TD-03 Shaving Mule Plans
$12.50 (postpaid)

Now available as a free download!

How To Order
Tools can be purchased three ways: Order by phone (Office hours: 9 a.m. - 6 p.m. Eastern Time) using your Visa/MasterCard for payment; order by mail, by clicking on Order Form (you can print the Order Form on your computer's printer, but we do not yet offer on-line ordering); direct purchase at our store and showroom.

Order Form

Country Workshops Home Page

Drew Langsner

Class Schedule | Instructors | Tools, Books & Videos | International Crafts Tours

Class Descriptions | Accommodations | Class Registration | Visiting our Facility