Saturday, 24 December 2011

Raiding the Woodshed

I am currently away from home and visiting my parents in France for the festive period. So while away from my workshop and tools I certainly didn't expect to be making blog posts. 

Lately, I have been reading a lot of stuff by Peter Folansbee. Peter uses predominately Oak which is not sawn but rived by splitting and it inspired me to go and have a rummage through my parents woodshed. 

Walnut - which I think was felled early 2011

Oak of around 1.5ft diameter which was felled late last year 2010

While there are a few Oak & Walnut pieces, unfortunately, everything has been cut to firewood size lengths, but ... with some determination I might be able to get some stock for small boxes. 

The Walnut looks like it would be amazing once dried, planed and finished!

Time to start 'playing' - what tools have my parents got I  can use?

Attacking a likely piece of Walnut - first some mark up.

Using a wedge to scribe all the lines before splitting anything. First lightly, then again to a depth of about 1/4 inch.


First split I am using an old axe head as it's wider than the wedges. It's also as 'dull as dishwater!'

Look at that grain! Once I trim the pith and sapwood I'm sure there will be something usable...

Ok they are small but I'm determined to use them for something

I wish I had a scrub or fore plane handy...

Next culprit - the mighty Oak. Marked out for eighths.

Again I deeply 'scribed' all the lines before splitting.

Hmn ... not what I was expecting.

All splits completed. It helps to not separate each 'slice' after its been split. This keeps the whole thing together and more stable until all the splitting is done. The hatchet is then used to cut the final fibres and release the slices.


Straight grained Oak - I wish these pieces were three times as long! I could easily get 2"x2" lengths for a joined stool

The haul - An hour or two's work with a hammer and wedges. I further re-split each eighth of Oak into sixteenths.

If I had a froe Im sure this Oak piece would split cleanly again into 32nds.

All in all it's been a fun afternoon and I have actually learned something useful. I was surprised how accurately the wood can be split if scribed first. In most cases I 'split the line' and couldn't have been more accurate with a saw. I will see how this stock dries out and see if it inspires me to build something. If not - mum has already been eyeing it up for the fire. It's such a shame that the trees were cut down and 'logged' before I started this wood working journey. 

There are still a couple of Walnut and Oak trees on the property which my parents are thinking about removing - rest assured it will be me with the chainsaw  claiming first 'dibs!' This fun little exercise has given me the confidence that I could produce usable stock from a complete tree trunk with very basic tools. Imagine breaking reliance on the Timber yard! - From tree to furniture, now that's a satisfying journey!

Merry Christmas everyone!...

4 comments:

upriver said...

So great to see you doing this. I have a deep interest, but not the tools or time to delve into green woodworking yet. At the same time, we do not have many (any) oaks around here. I wonder if this is worthwhile for alder or even fir logs, which we have in abundance.

Offhand, I think some of those walnut pieces could be used to make a Roy Underhill greasepot, which I think would make a good gift. As you mentioned, tiny boxes are also a good choice if you have the desire and skill to deal with tiny joints.

Simon (Boo). said...

Hi Upriver ... I just wish they were a little bit longer. I'm not overly keen on small projects but it would be really nice to make something from wood I've personally cut from the log.

I'm 99% sure I will be dropping an old Walnut tree we have here sometime in the new year. We also have a few really old Oaks - so watch this space!

No idea about Alder but I'm sure I have read that fir can be split as well. When time allows give it a go and let us know!

Maybe another blog reader could enlighten us?

conference alert indonesia said...

Cutting wood is not an easy task, you are doing good job here and using perfect technique to cut it. Thank you for sharing such informative and useful post with us

send special gifts to karachi said...

You have great passion for you work. That while being away on vacations you still managed to build som boxes out there!