There are several methods for splitting logs for planks and this is probably the simplest one. It requires very straight splitting material if you are going to get long pieces, since you will have to take out the twist with the axe afterwards. For shorter boards it can be very twisted and it still will not matter much. An advantage with this method is that it if the material is very straight splitting you can get several boards out of one length.
A bit about the wood. Scotch pine (Pinus sylvestris) splits best from the top end. Norway spruce (Picea abies) splits best from the base end. Why it is like that I don’t know, but it is certainly the case.
The first part of the process after felling the tree and sectioning it into a desirable length is to use the axe and a mallet to drive in the axe in a straight through the pith. This is done to crack the wood enough to insert the birch wedges.
The birch wedges are then driven in as far as you can, which should already cause a very significant split. On shorter pieces it might be enough to split the entire length.
Further splitting is achieved through driving more wedges into the side cracks that develop from the end split. You can do it from only one side, but often it is better to do it from both sides.
When it has split through you are ready to hew the pieces, which will be shown in the next tutorial. If the piece is particularly straight splitting you can split it again, which will give you an extra board and less work in hewing the original piece. Sometimes the outer piece will run off to the outside though and not follow the whole length. I always prioritise some additonal thickness on the inner piece, since it will be the wider and better board. This is to ensure that the split doesn’t run off towards the inside.
This project was done in collaboration with Jon (http://jonsbushcraft.com/).
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