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Re: [MedievalSawdust] Splitting 4' Thick Elm, Re: Has anyone successfully shaped rattan

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  • Haraldr Bassi (yahoogroups)
    2 hardwood is easy, one, maybe two steel wedges, and a few hardwood gluts are all that are needed. Sometimes a hand axe or hatchet is required to break fibers
    Message 1 of 39 , Jan 10, 2006
      2' hardwood is easy, one, maybe two steel wedges, and a few hardwood gluts
      are all that are needed. Sometimes a hand axe or hatchet is required to
      break fibers inside the split.

      The mechanism I would use for a 7' x 4' diameter elm would be as follows:

      1) start with at least three steel wedges and at least 8 wooden gluts,
      ranging in thickness from slightly larger than the wedges to several times
      larger than the wedges.

      Note that gluts are simply any piece of hardwood that is reasonably dry
      and has a tapered end chopped with an axe. You may need long gluts and
      short gluts given the size of this log. A supply of small scrap hardwood
      is very useful. I've even used old 4x4 oak slats from pallets (watch for
      nails if you use recycled wood as it destroys your axe).

      2) view the ends of the log and look for a radial split. If there is
      already one, start with the largest that coincides with your intended use.

      3) set your first steel wedge a few inches in from the outer ring in the
      existing radial split, and start setting it with a maul. Use safety
      glasses if you are going metal against metal.

      4) when your wedge starts getting set, it should start opening some
      portion of a crack in the wood. Place a glut near the wedge and drive it
      with a maul.

      5) Place a second glut on the other side of the steel wedge and drive it
      as well. This should allow the wedge to be removed.

      6) Add additional gluts down the outer skin in the crack that should be

      7) Take your free'd wedge and extend the crack both towards the center as
      well as down the length of the log, driving the gluts deeper and adding
      additional gluts as needed.

      8) When a glut gets close to it's max diameter, it needs to be free'd by
      putting thicker gluts around it.

      The gluts should all be driven at about the same rate. If you hear the
      wood cracking, leave it be and let it work itself. Once it is quiet again,
      start driving your gluts deeper again, swapping them for thicker as

      Also, watch for fibers connecting the two halves, they will need to be cut
      with an axe. They are surprisingly strong and when cut will allow the wood
      to split better.

      Watch for radial twists in the wood, you will want to have the split
      follow the grain lines and not force splits outside of where it wants to

      Once you have it in half, you can repeat the process with each half until
      you arrive at your chosen size.

      Note that if you are not planning to use a full 7' length, it is way
      easier to split shorter lengths than something that large and that long.

      Have fun, it sounds like a fun log :)


      On Mon, January 9, 2006 15:38, Bill McNutt said:
      > That was about what I thought. I've split 2' oak with six steel wedges
      > before, but I just don't' see that happening w. 4' elm, no matter how many
      > squires I borrow.
      > I believe that the period approach would have been a big ass frame saw and
      > a
      > trestle. (A pitsaw to some. I don't believe in the ubiquity of the
      > pitsaw.
      > It just doesn't make SENSE to make the effort to dig a big ol' pit, saw
      > logs
      > under it, then SHOVEL IT OUT, and saw some more.
      > Better to put one end of the log up on a trestle and saw above ground,
      > where
      > wind and apprentices can sweep and shovel sawdust away without having to
      > first hoist it out of the pit.)
      > But I digress.
      > I think I may just rent a suicidally large chainsaw and use that to
      > quarter
      > it.
      > Master Will
      > http://tech.cls.utk.edu/wood
      > Yahoo! Groups Links

      Dave Calafrancesco

      ... They got the library at Alexandria, they aren't getting mine!
    • Bill McNutt
      Don t be intimidated. We re ALL winging it. Very, very few of us have served a mundane apprenticeship or been to school. We re almost all completely
      Message 39 of 39 , Jan 20, 2006

        Don’t be intimidated.  We’re ALL winging it.  Very, very few of us have served a mundane apprenticeship or been to school.  We’re almost all completely self-taught, and can display the scars to prove it.  If you feel out-classed, it’s just because you need to make more sawdust.  Or shavings.  Or whatever it is the turners call that endless peel of wood that comes off the turning balks.


        From: medievalsawdust@yahoogroups.com [mailto: medievalsawdust@yahoogroups.com ] On Behalf Of Matt Henson
        Sent: Thursday, January 19, 2006 10:49 PM
        To: medievalsawdust@yahoogroups.com
        Subject: Re: [MedievalSawdust] Re: Lathe questions


        Greetings All,
        I have been lurking for a few months now and I must say Wow! I am
        indeed impressed and a little bit intimidated by the level of knowledge
        out there. I am by no means an expert, just someone who likes to made
        big pieces of wood smaller and hopefully usable.

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