Thursday, June 27, 2013


This week, I'm splitting and riving the parts to rough dimensions. I don't have a chainsaw, and there's no safe way to crosscut the log quarters with any of the powered saws I have. Fortunately, my turn of the century Disston no. 7 is up to the job.

It takes about three minutes for each crosscut. Hard work, but pleasant on a nice sunny day.

Next, I lay out the spindles on the end, and split the quarters into two or three pieces:

Once the pieces are small enough, I switch from splitting to riving.
First, I needed a froe. They're expensive, so I made my own, with a little help from the local machine shop. They welded a piece of 5/16" by 2" steel bar to a piece of piece of pipe with a 1 1/2" inside diameter. I shaped the bevel with an angle grinder, and made a handle:

I also needed a riving brake. The one I made was as quick and dirty as possible: two pieces of black iron pipe, jammed through holes in a couple of scrounged pine rafters from a demolished shed:

The basic idea of riving is that you use the froe as a lever, always pulling it down. The split will tend to run out towards the bottom, so if you are splitting the piece unequally, you always turn it so the thinner side faces up. If the split starts to run out too much, simply flip the piece around.  Here are a few shots:

One thing I learned the hard way: don't rive on the grass. The hardest part is driving the thick froe blade into the wood, and you need a hard surface or the mallet will just bounce (it would probably help if I had a real wooden maul, but whatever).

There's a lot of waste in this process. After the riving was done, this is all that remains of my log:

Friday, June 21, 2013

Got me a log

Welcome to the first post of my blog. I've been a woodworker, sometimes professional, sometimes amateur, for almost 20 years, but I'm just now hopping on the blog bandwagon.
My big project at the moment is a contemporary take on the Windsor chair. So, the first step was to get a log.

I got this one from my local sawmill. It's white oak, about 14" diameter. The sawyer chainsawed it in half for me, which was very helpful, since the log weighed about 600 lbs!

Next, I split the pieces into quarters with a maul, steel wedges, and wooden "gluts" (big wooden wedges used to hold the crack open). Here's the result, zealously guarded by Benny (this blog's namesake):

That was definitely a hard day's work! Next, I'll be splitting and riving the parts.