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 Post subject: advice on splitting a cedar post?
PostPosted: Mon Jul 01, 2013 4:41 pm 
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Joined: Mon Sep 12, 2011 6:29 pm
Posts: 139
Location: Chicago
Seems like to me there are more than a few wordworking experts here at JEM forum, so I thought this a good place for my question. I have split lots of sticks before, but only for burning, never before when I actually cared much about controlling everything about the spilt.

I have 2 cedar posts, which I have had for over 15 years, they have dried (and therefore shrunk somewhat in diameter) during that time, amazingly which no checking. When I first bought them (I used to carve knick-knacky things from them), if you knocked on it you got a dull sound and it felt soft - it was so soft only the sharpest tools would make a nice clean cut - NOW after all these years, a knock yields a nice clear sharp sound and eben the outer layer of the wood seems hard.

Now I think I want to split one of them to carve thwarts and (tiny) breasthooks.
So I need advice on splitting a cedar post -

Can I simply start by giving it a whack on one end and trust it to make a nice straight split?
or must I use the methodically careful approach of gradually inserting little wedges along where I want the split to occur and hope to get the split I want?

(note- I have no access to a band saw or sawmill, and rely on hand-held tools for this kind of thing)

Thanks in advance for any replies.

Les

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tMRWhmqJwHc


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 Post subject: Re: advice on splitting a cedar post?
PostPosted: Sun Jul 07, 2013 7:44 am 
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Joined: Sun Oct 21, 2007 7:44 am
Posts: 94
Les,
Couple of questions. What is the dia. of the post? Are they a natural limb or are they split out of a larger limb or log? If you have a froe you can control the way a limb splits by levering and bending from one side to the other. Without a froe it would be a crapshoot as it's splitting straight or not. Also, is there any knots in it or is it clear wood. If Any knots are involved you probably will not get a clean straight split.
You need to sit yourself down and make some more videos. I liked that. Thanks
Bob


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 Post subject: Re: advice on splitting a cedar post?
PostPosted: Mon Jul 08, 2013 9:40 am 
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Joined: Mon Sep 12, 2011 6:29 pm
Posts: 139
Location: Chicago
Wannabe wrote:
Les,
Couple of questions. What is the dia. of the post? Are they a natural limb or are they split out of a larger limb or log? If you have a froe you can control the way a limb splits by levering and bending from one side to the other. Without a froe it would be a crapshoot as it's splitting straight or not. Also, is there any knots in it or is it clear wood. If Any knots are involved you probably will not get a clean straight split.
You need to sit yourself down and make some more videos. I liked that. Thanks
Bob


Thanks for the reply and for the kind comment on the video.

I got 2 cedar posts, they both look to be full log round, (there are traces of bark here and there), both have knots throughout, one is about 7 feet long, top diam about 6 or 7 inches, bottom about 9 inches; that one is unchecked, the other is about six feet long (used the top foot years ago to make a carving) is it somewhat wider in diam than the other and it does have a deep checks, luckily the checks are almost 180 degress apart and fairly parallel.


The closest things I got to a froe are old lawn mower blades and a really big chisel.

Instead of the normal splitting process, i think maybe I'll probably just use my electric circular saw to make lengthwise cuts sort of following the checks and then knives and chisels to get the desired long pieces from the checked one,
and a hand saw (arched pruning or normal carpenter) to get cross sections from the one that is not checked.

If I remember correctly, when I first got them there was a pronounced color difference between the outer wood and the core, with the center being more redder, but now they seem of be of almost uniform color (not red at all) throughout the diameter.

I never did know what variety of cedar are they. But they are extremely lightweighted and seems to be very sound.

Thanks again.

Les

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tMRWhmqJwHc
Seems like to me there are more than a few wordworking experts here at JEM forum, so I thought this a good place for my question. I have split lots of sticks before, but only for burning, never before when I actually cared much about controlling everything about the spilt.

I have 2 cedar posts, which I have had for over 15 years, they have dried (and therefore shrunk somewhat in diameter) during that time, amazingly which no checking. When I first bought them (I used to carve knick-knacky things from them), if you knocked on it you got a dull sound and it felt soft - it was so soft only the sharpest tools would make a nice clean cut - NOW after all these years, a knock yields a nice clear sharp sound and eben the outer layer of the wood seems hard.

Now I think I want to split one of them to carve thwarts and (tiny) breasthooks.
So I need advice on splitting a cedar post -

Can I simply start by giving it a whack on one end and trust it to make a nice straight split?
or must I use the methodically careful approach of gradually inserting little wedges along where I want the split to occur and hope to get the split I want?

(note- I have no access to a band saw or sawmill, and rely on hand-held tools for this kind of thing)

Thanks in advance for any replies.

Les

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tMRWhmqJwHc


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 Post subject: Re: advice on splitting a cedar post?
PostPosted: Mon Jul 08, 2013 6:02 pm 
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Joined: Sun Oct 21, 2007 7:44 am
Posts: 94
Les,
Like I said, Splitting with knots in it would surely end in disaster. Trying such a cut with a circular saw could also end in disaster. It may take a while but get a chalk line and snap a line from top to bottom and split it with a hand saw. Slow tedious work, but you'll get it done. As a matter of fact, with 6 or 7 in of dis. you could probably get you tow or three boards out of one of the post. I saw a guy one time take the ugliest pile of used cedar fence post and made a Beautiful cedar chest out them. He did have a bandsaw though.
Good luck with them.
Bob


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 Post subject: Re: advice on splitting a cedar post?
PostPosted: Mon Jul 08, 2013 6:51 pm 
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Joined: Mon Sep 12, 2011 6:29 pm
Posts: 139
Location: Chicago
Okay Bob,
I'll go with your advice and skip the circular saw disaster! (want to cut wood, not myself).

If cedar is nothing else it is usually easy to saw so I'll do what I can with hand saw and maybe stopping to chisel and split a little here and there.
Not as if this were a thousand dollar piece of black walnut - I can afford to mess it up - after all, the wood has been in a crawl space unseen (by 2-legged beings) for nearly 15 years - so personal safety will take priority over desired results with the wood.

Thanks.


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