Some limbs/logs are too thick for 2 spoon blanks, and too thin for 4. For oak furniture, I was taught to usually split in halves. But sometimes you can get three out if things go well. I first saw splitting in thirds done by Robin Wood and Jarrod Dahl at North House Folk School in 2014. Here they used 3 axes struck with a wooden club to bust out bowl turning blanks. Robin tells me that this is how all the bowls from the Mary Rose were oriented in the log. He’s on the right, Jarrod next. 2nd from the left is Roger Abrahamson. http://www.rogerabrahamson.com/index.html
Later, Deneb Puchalski showed me his take on it during a spoon class he & I did at Lie-Nielsen. Here’s a grey birch bolt, about 5″ in diameter, that I split in thirds. This small stuff you just need one hatchet, no helpers. I started by drawing a peace sign, or Mercedes Benz insignia on the end grain. Or forget that stuff, and drawer three lines from the pith out to the bark, dividing the piece into thirds.
To start the split, take a hatchet and put its toe right at the pith. I tilt the hatchet so only its toe is hitting the wood. The last thing I want is this split to go past the pith in the other direction. Give it a knock with a wooden club.
Not too hard, I just want to start the split.
Then take the hatchet out, turn the piece and do the same for the other two radial lines.
Keep going around and around, and each time whack it a bit harder…and the splits will begin to develop.
At a certain point, you just are committed and drive the hatchet all the way. It usually does this – knocks one third out from the other two.
Then take one of your chunky thirds and knock the pith off and go ahead and carve your spoon from it. And the other two…
Red tail hawk from today.