As a postscript to this year’s International Peening day (April 7th) I have been reviewing the wonderful diversity of peening pony designs. A number of scythers have kindly sent me photos of their many and varied set ups, (and I can add more if you want to send me your photos).
Arrangements for peening of scythe blades come in a variety of forms. The key requirements are a support for the peening anvil, and a seat for the peener to work comfortably and support the blade during the process.
The design of a peening station is always built around the support for the peening jig or anvil. This needs to be as solid as practical to counter the forces of the hammer blows so that the energy of the strike is effectively transmitted into useful work shaping the blade, and not lost. The heavier and more solid this is the more effective and accurate peening will be.
For static fixed installations a solid oak trunk on firm foundations can make an excellent peening station.
For something a bit more transportable, weight and dimensions are important.
For most scythers who travel to fairs and events a peening pony is the answer. These are usually three-legged stools with a single front leg and two back legs. These are popularly referred to as ‘peening ponies’ rather than ‘peening stools’ as they are seen as junior cousins of the ‘shaving horse’ used by green woodworkers. In design, peening ponies are a compromise between solidity and transportability.
In designing or constructing a peening pony the front leg post which supports the anvil of jig is the most important component – this should be as heavy and solid as practical. Everything else that makes up the seat and rear legs can be much lighter in construction to save weight as long as it is sturdy enough to do the job, and the peener can sit in a comfortable working position.
The pony pictured here has a solid oak front leg and is folding design by Michael Gerrard. (see below)
Peening ponies come in a variety of forms and designs built around these principles, and range from simple stools built from 3” x 2” timber off-cuts or pallet wood, to more bespoke personalised styles.
Bespoke ponies come in a range of styles:
The most common peening pony design is the off-cut pony it being the simplest to construct with basic tools, materials and DIY skills. Plans for this can be found online, (as example right from https://scythecymru.co.uk/2018/06/10/make-simple-peening-bench/ )
And Simons Fairlie’s plan in Windrow 5 on page 6 (follow link to windrow back issues on this website)
Mike Gerrard has produced an elegant design for a folding pony. (version as picture above)
I particularly like Michael’s design, so much so, I have to date built around 10 variants of them with my colleague Phil, for use on my courses as they fold and stack well in my van and shed.
Michael has generously offer to make his design plans open source (to follow). His plans are easy to follow, but this folding design does require a bit more time and skill to construct compared to the off-cut pony.
This category has the most personalised forms, and reflects the strong links between scything and green woodworking groups. My own example (pictured) has a solid yew anvil post (for density) with a natural flared foot to spread its ground support, a lime wood seat for lightness and ash rear legs.
The best example I have seen (which inspired some of my own builds) was George Montague’s pony which was built around a substantial section of a broken oak gate post as its front leg. I have built ponies from recycled broken furniture such as pine beds and chairs (the cheap sort that break easily).
These incorporate additional features such as built in storage and vice as Jim McVittie’s examples below
Whatever arrangement you have, if it fulfils the two criteria for solid jig/anvil support and comfortable working position, you will find your peening is more efficient and less of a chore. On the topic of comfort, I almost always add a nice soft cushion to sit on (comfy and limits transmission of vibration to my pelvis) and ear defenders.
When selecting a pony for peening really is a case of ‘horses for courses’ 😊