Archive for February, 2021

Feb 28 2021

Splitting Planks 5: Hewing the Boards

When you have split your log, whichever method you want to use, by high likelihood you have to hew the planks, maybe both to thin and straighten them. There might be the rare tree which will split true right away, but hewing still gives a nicer finish.

The log used in this tutorial was not particularly straight splitting and I ended up cutting some of the end off to avoid taking out the spiral all the way. Also, it had a few large knots, which can be pretty annoying.

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First stage is to start taking out the twist as much as you can on one side. Since it will not matter to my intended project if the planks taper a lot, I took most off at the top end first.

After I had a reasonably straight line chopped there, I estimated how much I had to take out on the other side to straighten the inside of the board. This can be done very accurately with string and a weight, but I did not go through that trouble and simply went by eye measurement. I ended up with a very slight twist in the plank, but that should not really be a dealbreaker in this case.

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When both sides were straightened enough I chopped away the centre, being careful to not new a hollow and preferably not make it convex either. The plank was smoothed a fair bit through pushing the axe instead of chopping as it gives more control. Scotch pine (Pinus sylvestris) is very soft and will generally be very easy to shape through pushing. More so with fresh wood than dry wood.

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When I was satisfied with what will become the inside of the building, I started chopping out a line on either side of the board to mark out about 1.5 inch thickness over the whole plank.

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Next the remaining ridge was chopped into in short intervals and the pieces split off.

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Final hewing is then done to remove the roughness and create an acceptably smooth surface. For my project, this side will not be visible on the building and I did a rougher job than on the inside.

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The whole process takes about 3 hours, depending on length of the board and how straight it is.

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Feb 28 2021

Splitting Planks 4: End Splitting

There are several methods for splitting logs for planks and this is probably the simplest one. It requires very straight splitting material if you are going to get long pieces, since you will have to take out the twist with the axe afterwards. For shorter boards it can be very twisted and it still will not matter much. An advantage with this method is that it if the material is very straight splitting you can get several boards out of one length.

A bit about the wood. Scotch pine (Pinus sylvestris) splits best from the top end. Norway spruce (Picea abies) splits best from the base end. Why it is like that I don’t know, but it is certainly the case.

The first part of the process after felling the tree and sectioning it into a desirable length is to use the axe and a mallet to drive in the axe in a straight through the pith. This is done to crack the wood enough to insert the birch wedges.

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The birch wedges are then driven in as far as you can, which should already cause a very significant split. On shorter pieces it might be enough to split the entire length.

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Further splitting is achieved through driving more wedges into the side cracks that develop from the end split. You can do it from only one side, but often it is better to do it from both sides.

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When it has split through you are ready to hew the pieces, which will be shown in the next tutorial. If the piece is particularly straight splitting you can split it again, which will give you an extra board and less work in hewing the original piece. Sometimes the outer piece will run off to the outside though and not follow the whole length. I always prioritise some additonal thickness on the inner piece, since it will be the wider and better board. This is to ensure that the split doesn’t run off towards the inside.

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This project was done in collaboration with Jon (http://jonsbushcraft.com/).

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