In my last post, the one about riven oak & how great it is, https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2009/10/18/theres-oak-then-theres-riven-oak/
I forgot one of the most important aspects of riven, radial oak – the stability! It shrinks very little across its face, thereby allowing the joiner to work the wood while it is green, and therefore easier to cut/plane/carve/mortise, etc.
You do need to select the log with care. To be able to rive parts efficiently, you need a dead-straight log. This then will behave best when it loses its moisture, less tension, thus less distortion. Mostly imperceptable.
One reader asked about the lengths that riven stock is best for; and in my work the largest challenge length-wise is making an oak chest lid of three or four radially-split boards edge-glued together. I have one underway now, the boards are about 58″ long, 1″+ thick, and seven or so inches wide. It takes a really good log to get those riven without much wind, or twist in the faces of the boards. So usually these are riven oversize, and hewn to rectify before planing. Otherwise most everything is four feet or less for joined furniture; in many cases quite short. For instance, muntins in a chest are about 14″-17″ long…very easy to get from a log.
I find a riving brake essential for careful riving of anything more than two feet long…here’s one I use a lot. A large wooden tripod, with cross-bars fastened to its front legs. Jam the stock in this crotch, and that allows you to exert pressure on the split to help direct it if it is going astray.
I learned this brake from my friend Daniel O’Hagan, who is pictured in Scott Landis’ The Workbench Book using one of these contraptions. The thing I like about it is that the stock is held parallel to the ground, so you can apply pressure easily. Other brakes I’ve seen leave the workpiece tilted up to the sky, and it’s harder to manage them that way. Says me.
In the shots belowe, I was riving the sapwood off some stuff for a pair of stilts I had to make last week. My friend Marie came by & I asked her to get some shots. Thanks, Marie.