Nov 18 2020

Splitting Planks 1: Making a Mallet

Published by at 4:34 pm under Wood Working

Having a heavy wooden mallet is very useful when splitting planks. Especially when using wooden wedges it is virtually a must. You can use the hammer on your axe, however this tends to split and destroy them relatively quickly. Good wedges are valuable assets and they represent a fairly big time investment in construction as you need so many. Because of this you might want to have a system to make them last longer.

This particular blank is not ideal; the handle could have been straighter onto the trunk, but the handle and trunk was the right thickness, so I deemed it to qualify. It is downy birch (Betula pubescens) which has a good hardness and strength for this task

After the tree was felled, the ends are cut with an axe. The business end should preferably be axed off and not sawn. The axe compresses the grain when it cuts and will make the end somewhat harder, soak up less moisture and be less likely to split. The same end also has the corners shaved off. This greatly reduces likelihood of splitting the mallet during usage.

The bark was shaved off on the whole mallet, to make the tool dry faster. The birch bark could have increased the resilience of the hammer itself if left on, but it would dry out more slowly. The bark on the handle should be removed to improve grip on birch, but this might not be critical on other species.

I will let the tool dry at least for a bit before using it. Drying adds a lot of compression strength to the wood and it is also a bit on the heavy side in the fresh state.



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