Thursday, February 26, 2009

Riving Shakes

On average I end up cutting around 1.5'-3' off of the bottoms of logs to remove doty pith. These cut-offs become bolts, which are then riven(rived? rove?) with a froe and mallet to become shakes for roofing or siding. In the old days, they would have went through one more process of being smoothed and shaved to thickness and and possibly tapered with a draw-knife on a shaving-horse. Ideally all the shakes would be vertically grained, although all of mine are not. I purchased my froe for $8 at an antique store, and replaced pine handle with a persimmon sapling. I plan to make a bigger froe from an old leaf-spring sometime. Curved froes were used in the past to make staves for casks (barrels and such). It is a very primitive and effective tool, until you hit a knot. I am on my 4th mallet. The first being made of hickory, next was cherry, then persimmon, all of limbs or saplings. I am now using a piece of what I think is acacia (thorn tree), which has been the longest lasting. The pictures somewhat show the process of making shakes. I first split the bolt with a wedge (not shown), then knocked off the sapwood with the froe. The bolt is oriented upside down (tree top towards ground) for the whole process, as it splits easier for juniper in this manner. After spacing the froe from the edge it is hammer down flue with wood. The handle is then levered against the bolt to seperate the shake from bolt, and worked down and levered again, until the shake plops off. The shake can then be squared up if desired by using the froe again to slice through wood.

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