Friday, April 4, 2014

Splitting oak, day 2

Last night I showed up with another friend to help, and some additonal tools. We got it down to a science, finally. Warning, one of these photos is intentionally misleading.

Splitting something this thick is quite different that splitting firewood, I think mostly because it cannot deflect away from the wedge nearly as much.

Here's the recipe that worked for us:
1. score the line with a machete, lightly tapped with a dead-blow mallet
2. reinforce the line with several passes of axe & sledge, until about 2 inches deep
3. at 1/3rd and 2/3rds of the way across, bury the axe, pull out, and get a wedge started in its place before the wood swells and closes the gap. Use the wedges with powder coating right up to the edge so they grip instead of bouncing out.

4. Advance the wedges a couple inches, until the whole line starts to get visibly wider
5. add more wedges.
6. beat the wedges until the log is mostly split
7. lever with the froe down low to save a bunch of wedge work
8. reach in with a machete and snip a few fibers bridging the gap.
9. drink some beer.
We figured out that these eights weigh a little over 200 lbs. each.
YMMV, of course.
There was another more general lesson I got out of this too. It's a corrollary to that old one about the right tool for the job: It's not always obvious which tool is the most efficient. The best splitting wedges were the ones I bought at the last minute and I thought would be terrible. Certain whacking implements were useless at certain moments, and perfect at others. A few times, the log just laughed at us while bouncing a wedge out after we tried hitting it with steel. Other times it was a dead-blow mallet that induced wooden laughter. Having a couple to choose from was absolutely necessary.
Thanks to Seth for the rare opportunity, and to both him and Matt for the extensive help. And to Mikki for delicious food!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Splitting oak, day 1

My cousin offered me this oak log from a tree-removal the other day. I got over there in a hurry and found this chunk at about 40" in diameter. It took me about an hour and a half to split it the first time, taking advantage of some checks that had already formed. I'm going back to expend more effort on it tonight.
I'm really looking forward to having radially split oak boards, but this is a learning experience I never bargained for. I broke my club/beetle, my froe, and severely degraded one hatchet handle in the process. leap-frogging a pair of splitting wedges is a nice theory, but I wish I had 10 sharp ones. (the 2 I used yesterday are sharp for today).
Enjoy the pictures.
The first step is scoring a line. I used a machete (not pictured).

This froe was still useful after it broke. I'm pretty sure breaking it was my own fault. I should not have hit it with steel after the wooden maul broke.
Finally it's in two. For bonus points, count the broken tools.
My cousin and I struggled with one half for a while. It was harder since there were no existing checks to take advantage of.

Wooden spoon, first attempt

This is my first [completed] attempt at a wooden spoon. It was more time consuming than I expected, but all in all, a pretty fun, easy project. And a nice way to make use of reaction wood. This one is from a forked maple branch.