splitting a nine-foot log

They should all split like this one. Nine feet long, 21″ at the top, 23″ at the bottom. Red oak.  I split this one from the bottom, it just worked out that way. Usually, I’d split down from the top. Two steel wedges, two wooden wedges. A little snipping with a hatchet. Less than half-an-hour to get it into one-half, one-quarter and two eighths. I later counted about 100+ years on the rings, still quite fresh in the heartwood, sapwood is all decayed. Must have been down for a while to lose the sapwood completely.

here’s the photos, including a juvenile yellow-shafted flicker, rounding out a woodpecker trio at the house. Haven’t seen or heard a red-bellied here lately:

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14 thoughts on “splitting a nine-foot log

  1. Nicely done; textbook as a matter of fact … an enviable level of virtuosity.

    Once again, very nice bird photo … I owe you quite a few.



  2. Peter – You mentioned that this log was ‘down for a while’. Are you saying this tree was cut green and then left for a long time? I have a opportunity to get a large red oak that has been dead for a while. Not sure how long nor how ‘good’ it is. Is the potential there to split and rive it? Does a dead tree ‘dry out’ faster than a green felled tree? Sorry for all the questions. I had never thought of working wood this way until reading your book.

    • Yes, this tree was cut green; it has been laying long enough for the sapwood to rot. It breaks off very easily…but the heartwood is still wet inside. There is some bug activity; so that’s another indication that the oak has been a while since it was connected to the ground. Standing dead trees might be different. One way to tell…

      • Thank you. I think I might have to give it a try. At least I would get some firewood out of it….

        What other kinds of wood can you rive like oak? I would think Ash, since it is similar. Any others that work well?

  3. So this has been one of my questions for a long time: when you see those big tables with riven oak tops 9 or 12 feet long, how hard was it? Maybe harder with white oak. I don’t think an American long joined table survives with an original three- or four-board riven oak top. The Salisbury one is new. The Sudbury one has that original huge one-board pine top, and where did they get that? I’m not thinking of any others. To say nothing of those 25-foot-long Elizabethan shovelboard table tops. From one huge oak. They must have sawn them tangentially to miss the pith. I can’t think of another 17C long joined table.

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