ash splints – “you do it like that?” – well, some people go both ways.

I usually do it this way:



But this spring I’m doing it the other way:


pound 1

This ash log is a little weird. It has one large knot on one side, and someone started to cross-cut it with a chainsaw. Michael Burrey gave it to me, and I have been pounding & peeling it when I’ve had time. Ordinarily, I like to split the logs into billets, then pound those. That way I can harvest some wood from the log for furniture. But in this case, I don’t need the furniture wood, so just started in pounding.

pound 2


after the first couple of layers are removed, it gets easier. Here, I’m prying (carefully) with my knife to start lifting the splint.


start peel

Then peeling it…

peel 1

If you get to a part where it’s not lifting, you might need to hit it some more…

peel 2

The knife is not doing anything here, except being ready in case it’s needed to snip some stray hangers-on.

peel detail

Rick McKee shot that video in 2012, but now he’s been replaced by an eight-yr old photographer, my son Daniel. Who insisted that I pose…


He then shot a self-portrait. I refuse to use the word “selfie” – there’s only so far I’m willing to go.

photos by DRF


12 thoughts on “ash splints – “you do it like that?” – well, some people go both ways.

    • Ahh, it’s simpler than that, Tico. All things in moderation. I am not a steady/regular/production basket-maker. so I pound a little, then peel a little. Today I was doing some – pound – peel – search the skies for osprey, hawks, etc. A great day to be outside, watching the river flow.

  1. Peter, I’ve got to be honest, the way the wood splits like that (in the video) just blew me away. Perhaps it’s because I’m not familiar with how baskets are made from ash (as opposed to birch bark or willow shoots) but still, it’s very impressive.

    Do you know if this works with other woods or is it a technique that is peculiar to ash? I’ve split red cedar splints in a similar way to what you did later in the video before but I’ve never heard/thought about compressing fibres to force splits.

  2. What type of ash is that? I think I’ve heard that black ash is preferred, but wondering if white will work as well? Can you use a blacksmith’s trip hammer, or would that be cheating?

    • I’ve also been curious about this, I always heard that you could only really use black ash, but I have an white ash mallet for my froe that has started to come apart so cleanly it seems that white is just as good.

      • I have used white ash for over 25 years. I’d love to use black ash, it’s the premier wood for this technique. But doesn’t grow down here in southern New England (any more…)

  3. My question is what is going on with that yew behind you? Today was the first day our river, the Raquette, was open!

    • well, there’s 2. One behind one shot is grossly overgrown. the other I just chopped all the way back to the trunk. it’ll either die or begin again. they all got way too big, & that one was blocking the view of the river. So it had to go.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s