Took a few days off at Christmas…hung around the house most of the time. Here on the Jones River, December is a great time for birds. We see more ducks in winter than in summer by far. This week there’s been a flock of about 10 or 12 hooded mergansers, but they are quite skittish. I had to go back to a few years to find a decent photo of one, I had more time then to chase them down for pictures:

hooded merganser


We saw lots of hawks and herons too, this cooper’s hawk sat right up for its picture:

cooper's hawk


But today I got back to the shop today for a bit. I decided to repair the riving brake I have been using for a few years. It was built just a little different from what I wanted; so today I tore off the cross-pieces and re-did them. I like the upper piece to sit behind the leg on my left, and in front of the leg on my right. I think this arrangement provides a greater range of holding possibilities.

repaired riving brake


Once I got the brake straightened out, I split a section of red oak, just to make sure that it was tight enough. In the photo above you see I have a 45″ bolt of oak standing up with its upper end jutting out between the rails of the brake. I drive the froe into the end grain, then lift the oak up and wedge it between the rails, but lying just about horizontally. This allows great leverage when you are trying to direct the split this way or that…

driving froe to start split


froe & riving brake


While I was working out in the woodpile to fix this brake, a red-tailed hawk showed up & stayed for about half an hour. Dove at a squirrel, but missed. He stayed quite low in the trees, and was not at all bothered by me with a camera. So, I tried to get some woodworking in this post, but it’s mostly birds. Maybe next time.

juvenile red-tailed hawk

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