Today's Quote

“If people let government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny.” Thomas Jefferson

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Splitting Tree Trunks

Well, I know it can be done. I have seen folks do it. I fully understand how to do it. But one thing looks a whole lot easier than it is. What am I talking about? Splitting tree trunks. You know those split rail fences that folks like so much. Well those at one time were a whole tree trunk which was split lengthwise down the middle. Well I had cut down some small pines and was going to use them in my wattle fence. Even though they were small, they were still bigger than what I wanted. So, I decided to split them. Now, this was the first time I have ever tried to split anything other than firewood but I figure it is a good skill to know how to do. I grabbed my trusty hatchet, gave it a whirl on the stone and then grabbed my little hand sledge and wedge. Off I went into the garden yesterday afternoon to split those trees, after all pine is soft can't be too hard right? Wrong. The first split actually pretty nicely and really isn't all that hard in terms of effort (remember these are pines, not oak). The going is slow because you want the wood to split slowly so that it doesn't break. Let the tools gently pulled the wood apart along the grain. The key is to have a trunk with a straight pecan or sweet gum. However, I quickly found out that this is truly an art form. While the first split rather well, the next one didn't go so well. I started splitting in the middle of the trunk and somehow, someway I wound up blowing out the side. So then half the trunk was split and the other half was still whole. I tried starting the split again and it just didn't work. So I shaved down the rest of the trunk and now have loads of pine shavings on the ground. I tried again and again blew out the side. Again I shaved down the whole side of the trunk. It was at that point that I had better call it a day and start again fresh today. I just need to figure out how to keep my wedge straight and why is is wiggling its way crooked?. Maybe my arm was getting tired from all the hammering with the small sledge? I don't know, but I will really have to examine my methods today and try to figure what I am doing wrong. Why is it old timers made it look so easy and why can't I make it look so easy? Oh well, I won't give up and whatever I manage to get I will work with. Maybe in a few years of doing this I will be able to make it seem easy enough. Well, gotta get the barn chores done so I can go hack up some tree trunks. Blessings from the farm, Kat

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