Making parts of things

I got a call from my friend Michael Burrey recently. Was going log shopping, did I want anything? Well, I hit the jackpot. Ash, hickory & red oak. I brought the ash and hickory home first, they don’t last as long as red oak in the log. So I’ve been working them into pieces of things – basket & chair parts mostly.

The ash log was first, and I wrote some of that here –

I’ll get back to that when I begin making baskets from it soon.

Because I can’t deliver logs down to my shop (there’s no vehicle access) I split both logs at Michael’s yard. Here’s some of the hickory, it split open with ease. They both did actually.

I’ve been able to harvest some of the inner bark from it, I’ve never taken bark strips off split sections before. It’s not my first choice, but better than wasting the bark. Here I have a 7′ long split up on the bench and am shaving down the thickness of the inner bark. It’s been sliced into widths on the log, then thin it down, & peel it up.

Getting under there with a knife & snipping uncooperative inner bark.

The wood is dead-straight and nearly perfect. I’ve been riving & shaving it into chair parts like these rungs:

And I’ve shaved and bent several sets of hickory posts – and some earlier of ash. There’s also some spindle-blanks for another version of Curtis Buchanan’s democratic chair. I bent some crests for those too, but they’re already up in the loft. The glue is to seal the ends so they don’t check. Hickory can be temperamental.

Stuff that was too thin for chair rungs gets saved for basket rims/handles/ears. These are shaved with a slojd knife to thin them out for bending.

And here they are bent & tied. These become “ears” for swing-handle baskets. Hickory is ideal for these, white oak is another wood I’ve used for them.

I don’t often get hickory around here, so I’m making the most of it. Thin stock is riven & shaved, then bent into basket handle blanks. I usually make the basket first, then make handles to fit them. Because the hickory can get pretty difficult to work with it it dries out, I’m splitting and shaving everything I can from it now. Handles on the left (& in back) the ash splints on the right. Older rungs above. I have to make some chairs to make room for more chair parts…

Daniel & I are working on the last two videos in the joined stool series. Should have them in the next couple of days. Back to riving & shaving tomorrow, some axe handle blanks to store for my old age.

8 thoughts on “Making parts of things

  1. When you bend the back posts of chairs, which way should it bend? The bark side of the piece to to front or to the back of the finished chair?

    I started shaving the pieces for my first chair this week. It’s been kind of like work, splitting and hewing the parts out.

    • I don’t think it matters which way they bend. I’m trying some in this & the previous batch where the bend is in the radial plane, not the growth-ring plane. Am making the first of those chairs later this month.

  2. This seems like the woodworkers version of canning a summer harvest for winter. Stocking up the larder.

  3. Can you write about the uses of hickory heartwood v. sapwood? I am fortunate to live in an area with lots of hickory and want to get the most out of the logs I come across. Thanks!

    • Straight clear wood is the key. Sapwood vs heartwood shouldn’t matter, unless the log has laid around too long – the sapwood can decay within a few months.

  4. The most impressive thing here is that you found an open space in Michael’s yard to split the logs ha

  5. Im jealous looks like a hell of a day, nice straight stuff, plus Im having problems finding hickory on nj shore, I have to expand my search area.

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