Woven Ash Panels - splitting top rail

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Woven Ash Panels - splitting top rail

Postby AndyT » Thu Jun 13, 2013 10:11 pm

I've been making Westmorland panels, not sure what other names they're known by, out of Hazel and today, Ash. I had issues with the top rail, the Hazel was splitting at the end holes, it took me over 7 goes to fit a rail that didn't split. The Ash, however, didn't split as readily at the ends of the rails and the rods were much easier to split down the middle.

How do I overcome the ends of the rails splitting, Sharper auger? leave long rail ends and cut off when dry? Seasoned rails?

And, has anyone used woods like sycamore and others for Panels?
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Re: Woven Ash Panels - splitting top rail

Postby gavin » Fri Jun 14, 2013 7:18 am

Pls post picture of Westmorland panel - I dunno what you are talking about.
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Re: Woven Ash Panels - splitting top rail

Postby ToneWood » Fri Jun 14, 2013 8:55 pm

Google was a little confused by it but came up with this image which looks promising:
Image
http://urbancoppice.co.uk/fencing-gates-and-panels/

I saw a guy making similar panels out of hazel at a local country fair last week. He used a long wooden block with holes to hold the uprights and billhook but mainly brute strength & no doubt considerable experience. He said he never sharpens his billhook, the cutting keeps it sharp.
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Re: Woven Ash Panels - splitting top rail

Postby AndyT » Fri Jun 14, 2013 11:18 pm

I'd be a teensy bit chuffed if I'd managed to build that ToneWood!

The Westmorland Panel is a bit like a Hazel Hurdle but it has a top and bottom rail holding the sails, so no need to wrap the rods (Great for substandard/shorter lengths). My camera is out of action but will get some shots taken soon. I too can't find many pictures on the net. Here is a page with a couple of Westmorland Panels towards the bottom, but my Panels have a long top rail with augered holes to take the sails, some have 5, some 7.
http://browntroutfisherman.wordpress.com/tag/westmoreland-woven-hazel-panels/
Better likeness here:
http://www.learningfields.co.uk/downloads/WestmorlandPanelPoster2.pdf

I made another today out of peeled ash and managed to stop the ends from splitting but it looks like it's a difficult thing to get everytime. What are the ways to reduce top rails splitting?
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Re: Woven Ash Panels - splitting top rail

Postby monkeeboy » Sat Jun 15, 2013 11:03 am

These are the correct Westmorland Panels from the Urban Coppice Website;

http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5106/565 ... fe2a_b.jpg

I should know because it's my website!

There are a few reasons why your rails split at the end;

Hole is too close to the end of the rail
Tenon is too big and forces the sides of the rail apart
Wood used to make rails it too green

If you use slightly drier wood for the rails then it is less likely to split.
In an ideal world you could make and season your rails/frame first and then add the weave later.
This was how they made the pottery crates, I reckon.

The other option would be to use wire, screw or pegs to hold the end of the rails together.
In the panels in the above photo I used some of the ends are wired to stop them from splitting.
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Re: Woven Ash Panels - splitting top rail

Postby AndyT » Sat Jun 15, 2013 6:19 pm

Hi Mike, bet you can't guess who I am? ;O)

I'm a big fan of your work btw, beautifully done - inspirational!

Thanks for your input, it really is appreciated. I was thinking seasoned rails will be lots less likely to split. Also thinking that wiring the ends would be a little of a cheat, maybe I'll experiment with pegs on the rails that split, but getting the rails to not split is the ultimate aim I suppose.

These, although technically not Westmorland Panels, are what I'm making:
Image

And the pesky split rail-end on another:
Image
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Re: Woven Ash Panels - splitting top rail

Postby ToneWood » Sat Jun 15, 2013 6:45 pm

Hope you didn't mind monkeyboy, I put a link to your website (nice site & woven wall/gate btw).

I've never seen one of those before Andy, looks really nice - surprisingly crisp & modern. I wonder if cutting the tenons smaller might help (as monkeeboy already suggested), so they are only a loose fit: the mortice in the horizontals will shrink as it dries and it will shrink more than the tenons (if your vertical were dried beforehand - as I believe chair legs usually are - then they won't shrink at all). If you make the joints a tight fit during construction, even if it doesn't split when you make it, it might split later when it dries. Good luck, it looks really good ;)
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Re: Woven Ash Panels - splitting top rail

Postby AndyT » Sat Jun 15, 2013 11:04 pm

It's really good having some experienced and considered opinion. It's only my fourth Panel, better is to come and thank you for your kind comment :)

I reckon it will be better to dry/season the rails instead of the verts, as the verts need to flex a bit as the weave goes in - surely a dry vert would snap with some lateral pressure from green weavers. The rail is the issue, and now too is finding the space to leave some ash rounds to dry for a few months!

I shall be making many of these, so perhaps I will update the thread as I find things that work.
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Re: Woven Ash Panels - splitting top rail

Postby gavin » Sun Jun 16, 2013 6:55 am

As any round dries it must crack. And if you put a hole in of any depth through a drying round, you'll promote the cracking at the weakest and fastest-drying points i.e the very end and the hole. To mitigate this risk, I suggest you cleave the rails in half or quarters to promote drying and relieve the risk of cracking. You'll need a cleaving brake and froe.

AndyT wrote:I reckon it will be better to dry/season the rails instead of the verts, as the verts need to flex a bit as the weave goes in - surely a dry vert would snap with some lateral pressure from green weavers.

Not necessarily. Snapping only depends on how dry the vertical and how much pressure from weavers. I am not clear if you need a tight fit of vertical with rail. If so, you only need the end of the vert to be dry.

AndyT wrote:The rail is the issue, and now too is finding the space to leave some ash rounds to dry for a few months!

If you have electronic scales, try weighing the rails to determine rate of weight loss. You may find they need nothing like that length of time, esp if you split them. Also you can experiment with different drying locations to see which is your quickest drying. If you dry them where rain may fall on them, stack them bark side up.
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Re: Woven Ash Panels - splitting top rail

Postby AndyT » Mon Jun 17, 2013 5:41 pm

Thanks for the input Gavin. The rails are cleaved in two, most of the time they cleave fine, even if I've not got a cleaving brake setup. Its just eye, hand, froe and axe - although I find it easier to cleave with the axe for now. Maybe I progress to the froe when I'm dealing with rounds/half-rounds larger than a couple of inch.

Initially I thought I'd need a tight fitting tenon, but after asking here, tight when green is not advisable. I made a few more today and have augered the mortice a bit larger than previous attempts, also whittled down the ends of the tenons that were a little to fat where the inside of the rail hits the inside of the tenon. So far: no splits, but the rails are fairly loose. When I get to the rest of my tools (in storage) I will drill and peg each tenon accross the rail.

If all goes well I should have lots of ash to play with, and will get some drying to play with later in the year.

I'm sure I had another question to ask, but I can't remember right now!
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Re: Woven Ash Panels - splitting top rail

Postby AndyT » Tue Jun 18, 2013 10:30 am

That was it!

It's about the pith - I've only noticed this in Ash rods, and not every rod has it. But I often see the pith circular shaped with little protruding notches on opposite sides (Like looking at Saturn & the rings from the side) - if I split the rod along the axis of these notches, will it split better? Or am I just splitting hairs now?

BTW, for anyone reading - I've noticed, after a good auger & bit sharpening this morning, that sharp augers/bits make a lot of difference when drilling holes through fairly narrow half-rounds; the bits don't catch on the fibers, which has to be good for reducing the risk of splitting rail-ends.
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Re: Woven Ash Panels - splitting top rail

Postby gavin » Tue Jun 18, 2013 2:27 pm

AndyT wrote: if I split the rod along the axis of these notches, will it split better? Or am I just splitting hairs now?

No you are splitting ash rounds. Whether you are better splitting with one axis or another, you'll be the best judge. I don't know and I guess you'd be better splitting with the notches. We look forward to your report.
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Re: Woven Ash Panels - splitting top rail

Postby AndyT » Mon Jul 01, 2013 11:57 am

gavin wrote:No you are splitting ash rounds.


Badum-Tsh!

I think I need more experience before calling on this. They seem to split better, but I've only split a few 100. Maybe after a few 1000 I'll be more sure and once I get more material over the next winter to explore this with.

Oh and Mike, aren't Westmorland panels only Westmorland panels if they're made within the bounds of Westmorland? If they were made in Manchester (for example) then they'd be Mancunian panels? I prefer the name: Split ash/Hazel panels but hey, I can't get this pedantic hat off, no matter how hard I try...
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Re: Woven Ash Panels - splitting top rail

Postby gavin » Mon Jul 01, 2013 2:35 pm

AndyT wrote: hey, I can't get this pedantic hat off, no matter how hard I try...

This place is a licensed hangout for pedants.
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Re: Woven Ash Panels - splitting top rail

Postby monkeeboy » Mon Jul 01, 2013 8:25 pm

AndyT wrote:Oh and Mike, aren't Westmorland panels only Westmorland panels if they're made within the bounds of Westmorland? If they were made in Manchester (for example) then they'd be Mancunian panels? I prefer the name: Split ash/Hazel panels but hey, I can't get this pedantic hat off, no matter how hard I try...


Well, I'm Irish so I don't really give a toss where the borders are!
Borders are all just part of the government mind control program.
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