splitting down long lengths..

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splitting down long lengths..

Postby JonnyP » Sat Apr 13, 2013 9:23 am

Can anyone give me some advise on splitting down long strips of ash. I am going to making a yurt and need long lengths of timber for the roof. As we have a load of ash growing i think i am going to fell a suitable one (or few). I need the strips to be about 2" by 1/2" minimum and about 12' long.
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Re: splitting down long lengths..

Postby bulldawg_65 » Sat Apr 13, 2013 9:50 pm

You need to talk to Jarrod Stone Dahl. He just recently completed a Yurt and he works with Ash in many of his applications. Good luck! :D
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Re: splitting down long lengths..

Postby AlexanderTheLate » Sun Apr 14, 2013 12:13 am

I would assume wedges and/or a froe + brake. It would have to be very clear wood to split with that kind of accuracy, though.

Here is a video of a man splitting ash wood this way (I posted this earlier) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d7YtxpPK9QU and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GsuPO9TzC8U
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Re: splitting down long lengths..

Postby Brian Williamson » Sun Apr 14, 2013 6:11 am

I've never built a yurt but I've seen quite a few. Most builders seem to use small poles in the round, with the two ends shaped with a drawknife and, perhaps, the butt end thinned down. So no splitting/cleaving/riving at all.

The next step up would be slightly larger poles cleft in half. Again, the two ends would be shaped with a drawknife. A good, hooked, billhook should do the job or you could use a brake/small froe combo.

One step up again would be more substantial poles cleft radialy along their length. Brake and froe required for this. So, halve it; halve the halfs (into quarters) and halve the quarters (into eighths). I think that would be my preferred sizes. Of course, you could use smaller poles and stop at quarters or go to larger ones and sixteenth them - more drawknifing involved, but perfectly do-able.

To give yourself two inch minimum width, you would need a pole of about five inch top diameter. Shave off the feather (heart) edge to bring your eighth to the required width and then chamfer off one bark/radius face corner to give yourself the required profile (something like a low bungalow seen from the end). Remove bark.

The cleaner the poles the easier the work, and quick grown ones (wide growth rings) should work better than slow grown ones.

If you've cleft long material with a froe and brake before it should be quite straightforward. If not, then you have an enjoyable learning curve ahead of you!

Good luck,

Brian.
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Re: splitting down long lengths..

Postby JonnyP » Sun Apr 14, 2013 2:27 pm

Thanks for the advise guys (and the vid). I have never used a froe before, so it will be an experience. Would i be better off buying a larger froe for this sort of work..?
I will see what trees are available, i dont think we have many small enough to do roundwood.
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Re: splitting down long lengths..

Postby Brian Williamson » Sun Apr 14, 2013 7:25 pm

Just watched the two videos. He had a method going that was working for him, but I think that he would have been better off with a cleaving brake. He appeared (though the camera angle made it hard to be sure) to be correcting his split by recutting its line with his hatchet. He wouldn't have had to do that with a brake.

And that was a big froe. You shouldn't need one as big for that kind of work. Wedges to halve it and then take over with a froe.

Metal wedges and edge tools are not a good combination. Sooner or later, no matter how careful you are, the two will come in contact. It's well worth making up some wooden wedges.

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Re: splitting down long lengths..

Postby JonnyP » Sun May 05, 2013 9:42 pm

Brian Williamson wrote:Just watched the two videos. He had a method going that was working for him, but I think that he would have been better off with a cleaving brake. He appeared (though the camera angle made it hard to be sure) to be correcting his split by recutting its line with his hatchet. He wouldn't have had to do that with a brake.

And that was a big froe. You shouldn't need one as big for that kind of work. Wedges to halve it and then take over with a froe.

Metal wedges and edge tools are not a good combination. Sooner or later, no matter how careful you are, the two will come in contact. It's well worth making up some wooden wedges.

Brian.


I now have some better info as I found my how to make a yurt book.. The poles only need to be one inch at the top and 1.5 inch at the bottom, not what I said in my first post. This is not an exact science though, so I am using what I can find. I have so far cut about 25 ash poles, made up a brake and a pole bending jig, stripped the bark off many of them and managed to get the bend into them while they were green, so avoiding steaming them.
I have bought me a froe and I am having problems. I assumed that splitting using a froe would be something like splitting hazel, where you pull on the thicker side to get the split back to the middle. I thought that using the froe one side or the other would determine where the split went.. Not so, the split is running off center and I cannot stop it going.
Image

One or two have been going ok, but I am wasting wood on the ones that don't split right.. The only wedges I have are huge great ones that are quite worn. Would I be better off doing what that guy in the above video is doing and using an axe to do the splitting or would wooden wedges help me on this..? How do wooden wedges drive in..?

One I got right :0)
Image

Poles in the jig..
Image

I have found a load of chestnut in the log pile. I am going to use this for the trellis sides, as the bottom of the trellis is in contact with the ground, so ash is not good. Trouble is its well seasoned.
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Re: splitting down long lengths..

Postby Christophe » Mon May 06, 2013 7:31 am

Hi Jonny,
Splitting with froe...well, it needs practice, good luck with that ;)
Btw, you mind sharing the title of this yourt book you found?
Thanks
Be Water
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Re: splitting down long lengths..

Postby 81stBRAT » Mon May 06, 2013 8:35 am

hi Jonny
You need a brake, makes control when cleaving easier, cleave from the tip down, get a few poles you do not need for the job and practice.Take a far pressure to change direction that's when you need the brake.
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Re: splitting down long lengths..

Postby JonnyP » Mon May 06, 2013 10:54 am

Christophe wrote:Hi Jonny,
Splitting with froe...well, it needs practice, good luck with that ;)
Btw, you mind sharing the title of this yourt book you found?
Thanks

Its driving me nuts today, the splits are going every way. I find I am getting on best with the froe and recutting the split with the axe when the split goes off, but even that is not always working. I have come in for a coffee and to calm down a bit as I am getting frustrated.

I said book but its really a booklet, done by The Centre for Alternative Technology, called how to build a yurt.

81stBRAT wrote:hi Jonny
You need a brake, makes control when cleaving easier, cleave from the tip down, get a few poles you do not need for the job and practice.Take a far pressure to change direction that's when you need the brake.
Richard

I made a brake, but its not clamping the thinner bits well enough and the bigger bits do not fit in.. How do you make one that will fit all thicknesses..? Some of the chestnut I have to split is 12"+ thick and I need it about 1" thick (ish), and its seasoned..!
I will finish me coffee and go back for another go.. I can see why its called a froe.. I have nearly launched it a few times lol..
Thanks for the replies :0)
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Re: splitting down long lengths..

Postby 81stBRAT » Mon May 06, 2013 11:50 am

Wedges for the 12" pieces froe when small enough.
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Re: splitting down long lengths..

Postby Christophe » Thu May 09, 2013 8:05 am

Jonny thank's for the title.
One thing about you froe splitting mission, are you sure coffe break will help you calm down...I would suggest jasmin green tea :wink:
Good luck anyway and remember to breathe :)
Be Water
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Re: splitting down long lengths..

Postby ToneWood » Thu May 09, 2013 8:06 pm

No wisdom to share on this I'm afraid, I experience similar problems. I put it down to my lack of experience/technique (and possibly poor selection of materials). I expect Brian has more experience of this than almost anyone. Big knot sections, like the one featured in one of your pics. is always going to be a problem - I have managed to split one or two "successfully" (I have a big one in my gate hurdle) but they look odd (I like odd/rustic but most won't) and uneven and probably won't work for your yurt, as the knots act as stiff sections. Longer poles will obviously provide more "opportunity" to run out the side :( - perhaps you could use splitting wedges, with or without the froe, to help direct the split?

Enjoying the thread, can't wait to see your Yurt.
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Re: splitting down long lengths..

Postby ToneWood » Tue Jun 04, 2013 11:25 pm

JonnyP wrote:...The only wedges I have are huge great ones that are quite worn. Would I be better off doing what that guy in the above video is doing and using an axe to do the splitting or would wooden wedges help me on this..? How do wooden wedges drive in..?
...
You could probably use old splitting wedges. Pick out the best 2 or 3 and (as suggested by Gavin) file the mushroomed bits off the head, then straightened and sharpened the cutting edges with files. That way they should work better & safer (did for me).

Re. wooden wedges/"gluts". These are wedged into splits that have already been started/opened by a froe or metal wedges. I sometimes use one at the end when splitting large rounds for bowls: once the split is too big for the metal wedges and/or the metal wedges have dropped into the split. I use a wooden wedge then because it is easy to make/find one that is much wider than my metal wedges. However, I often just pick up a ~3" round piece of branch and jam that it the split - I have done that when using a froe too. You can hammer wooden wedges in with anything (they are free, so I'm not worried about damaging them), a beetle/froe mallet would probably be good but I usually push them in by hand and if that is not enough I just grab whatever is at hand -- these days that's usually a 4lb Spear & Jackson lump hammer (alternatively it might be a piece of branch or the 10lb sledge hammer).
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