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Riving - Splitting Black Locust posts by hand ( video )  RSS feed

 
Sean Dembrosky
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Location: Trumansburg, NY
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Thought I'd share a new video I just put up on my Edible Acres youtube channel.  I've been hand splitting black locust posts for years now for building small structures, cob buildings, fencing, arbors... everything!  I was taught this skill about 10 years ago and would love for everyone I meet to know how to do it.  Feels super useful!  WOuld be great to get feedback on the video, the process, etc. so I can improve what I offer.

 
Mike Jay
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I liked it and learned a lot.  I appreciated how you covered the safety bits very well without spending too much time on it.  As for constructive feedback, the sound was a bit variable (camera guy vs you vs the end of the video) and it would've been really neat to show a finished fence at the beginning to get our motors running about the applications of rived posts.  Overall, Good Job!
 
Sean Dembrosky
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Location: Trumansburg, NY
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Fantastic feedback, thanks!  Yeah, I tend to do some very 'lo-fi' videos... I think as I make more I need to start getting focused on quality.  I love the fence image idea... I think I may take some photos and put up a little series to show folks as a link on the video... Ah, but I must make the time first! 

Thanks again for your thoughts.
 
Thekla McDaniels
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Hi Sean,
Great video.  Tools, safety, procedures.  For a learning tool it is perfect as it stands.  I did not even know what riving was before this.

If you are torn between tinkering with this one, and making another video on another topic, I'd say go on to the next one and make improvements based on the feedback you receive.


I do agree with the comment on the sound, but it does not prevent learning from the video.  One thing you might consider is adding subtitles to make thing easier for non english speaker.

I would like to see what you have built with your riven logs. 

Mostly thanks for showing us something useful.  You made it look easy.  I feel like I could do it myself.
 
Polly Oz
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Excellent. Just enough (unobtrusive) input from the cameraman asking questions to clarify some points. Maybe pause and allow the camera a close up of the split at points, like when you reach/pass the knot you'd pointed out before starting. Very clear instruction and crisp audio, even on a small device. Thank you both.
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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Looking this video makes me feel like even I (female, 60, no experience with woodwork, 'non-English') could do this, if I had the right tools.
 
Dan Boone
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Yes, your video makes it look easy!  I always thought of riving as something that required a sawhorse-like structure and a lot of physical force, and/or special tools.  Awesome to see you using garage-sale tools and no more force than it takes to set the wedges well, letting gravity and physics do the grunt work. 

This is something I've got to try; I've got lots of good structural roundwood on this property (osage orange, honey locust, and eastern red cedar) but most of it is larger stuff that would be wasteful to use in the round. 
 
Thekla McDaniels
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You know what I forgot to ask, is there a time of year when the trees are easiest to rive?   Time of year it's best to cut?  Period of time between cutting and riving?  I know you demonstrated on a freshly cut log because you mentioned it, but what if I let it age, will it become more difficult to rive as it dries?  Is there a maximum size (diameter or length?)

Feeling like I can do it, makes me think up all the ways I could make it harder or easier for myself.

Just details I know, but are any of them important?

Thanks
 
Sean Dembrosky
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Location: Trumansburg, NY
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Question about timing / size, etc...  I'm sure there are opinions out there for best time of year, time to wait, etc. etc., but I'll be honest I haven't noticed a huge difference with timing on things.  Biggest influencer is technique and tools as well as how knotted and wiggly the wood.  A straight run that is knot free I think will split well no matter when.  It's just practice.  I wouldn't let that layer of detail and variables get in the way of doing it...

Thanks for the feedback folks, glad that there is a theme that people feel like it is possible for them to do.  Thats the main point!
 
Thekla McDaniels
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Okie, Dokie!  Just go for it, right?
 
Sue Rine
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Thanks Sean, nice clear demonstration.
 
Dean Howard
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Location: NE ARIZONA, Zone 5B, 7K feet, 24" rain
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THANKS, SEAN...
Nicely done with adequate audio for an outdoor video.  You instructions were concise.  I agree that you should leave this video as is, and go on to another.
 
Jotham Bessey
Posts: 103
Location: Newfoundland, Canada
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I was wanting to know how to do that! Now I know. Get me another wedge and away to go. Thanks!
 
Peter Ellis
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Pretty good video, Sean.  Dan Boone raised something that I want to address, which is the thought of "riving" as a process that involves a "saw horse like" tool - this would be a riving brake - lots of force and some other specialized tools - a froe being the one other specialty tool.

For me, as Dan, "riving" brings to mind a different process.  I think of what you demonstrated as rail-splitting, rather than riving.  Not trying to quibble, but trying to explain some differences among ways of splitting wood logs for differing purposes.  At the scale of fence posts and rails, splitting them out with a sledge and wedges works just fine, gives perfectly good results with appropriate effort and technology, as you show quite nicely.  When you're making shakes for a roof, or spindles for a chair, or other smaller, more refined sorts of work, then you start wanting to have a froe, maybe needing a riving brake (there are numerous forms for this) and you start exercising some different sets of muscles and working for much greater control over how the split runs as you work with your piece.

When I split logs for fences, I follow much the same procedure as you demonstrated, with a couple of differences. One, I have a wooden club (a beetle) for hitting the poll of my axe, I never hit an axe with a steel tool - as you noted, steel on steel can produce shrapnel and wreck your axe Second, I'll use my axe, or hatchet, to score a line clear across the end of the log where I'll start my split, tapping it with the beetle to create one continuous, very shallow, initial split across the entire log.  Then I'll usually go in with a wedge, two if the log is larger or seems uncooperative, rather than starting with my axe head - this is really just preference, partly inspired by my desire not to have a wedge bang the edge of my axe.  If the axe just isn't there, the wedge cannot possibly touch it

One other tool I like to have with me is a small pull saw for getting in there and cutting cross linked fibers when the hatchet won't reach.  I split lots of stringy, wind twisted oak that doesn't like to come apart as neatly as your locust log did
 
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