I wonder whether Mr. Sellers or any other expert in this masterclasses community recommends the occasional use of a carpenter’s axe in conjunction with a tree stump for quickly splitting boards roughly to width, as an alternative to making a rip cut with a handsaw. Naturally the split edge would then require planing to make it true prior to any jointing. Use of a small axe in this way looks very efficient and appealing when practised by skilled cabinetmakers on video.
If this method is recommended, are there any particular models or specifications of axe that are best to consider, e.g. in terms of optimum weight, handle length, shape, etc.?
I hear good things about brands such as Wetterlings and Gransfors Bruks which employ Swedish steel blades and American hickory handles.
I know I should really buy a proper resharpenable rip-cut handsaw as well: is the (expensive) Lie-Nielsen one the best buy?
Many thanks for any advice.
I hope to enroll to study with Mr. Sellers at the castle workshop later this year if possible.
asimpson, Paul shows examples of hatchets in several of his videos where he makes spoons and also uses an axe to shape the legs of the bench stool. Splitting wood to width with an axe means knowing where the grain is running because it would be easy to end up with chopsticks 🙂
Personally I would only attempt it with small lengths of board as grain direction should be fairly consistent in short lengths whereas it’s likely to change on longer pieces.
I agree with Dave, take a look at Paul’s “bushcraft” video and be aware of the grain, how the wood is reacting to the splitting. Rive just to the outside of your line and the moment the wood splits towards it be ready to switch to the saw.
It the blade curves away from the handle in a way that let’s you grip the ax up high on the handle for close work splitting, it was designed as a carpenter’s axe.
asimpson, Regarding your question about a Lie-Nielson rip saw; while they are fine saws, I would hardly consider them a “best deal”. I would say the best deal would be to find a used Disston or other old quality saw in rip filing and re-store it yourself, then use the rest of the money you would have spent on a L/N to get a saw vice, tooth setter and some files and learn to maintain it yourself. Rip saws are the easiest to sharpen and there are some excellent videos on line.
If you are hard over on a new saw, there are several makers of new hand saws that are as good (and expensive) as a L/N but you’ll still need to come to terms with sharpening your saw.
I am assuming that when you say handsaw, you are not referring to a back saw. If you are, there are many more choices for new and used but my advice would still be the same but be sure you’re getting a rip filed saw, many backsaws are crosscut.
I’m not sure where you are taking this. Try YouTube and type in Hewing at the search prompt.
For the axe I think this is probably a status thing. If you need to buy a Rolls Royce to take the kids to school, go ahead but compare the price of a wetterings axe with the price of a bandsaw.
Then you can only split with the grain, so you need a broad axe to make your board acceptably flat. For me a car boot sale item is fine as long as it holds a decent cutting edge long enough for what I need. I have to make the point though that I use a workbench that I am not afraid to use. I was looking at the router table cabinet on Marc Sommerfelds you tube videos. This is supposed to be a tool but for me it would have to live in my main room in the house. Over £100 just for drawer slides! Keeping in line with the topic. I am going to make a house in a foriegn country and if I can get tree trunks at a good price then I am convinced I want to try hewing. That said it will be more than 1 axe and the axe blades will have tool steel welded to the shape I desire. You can look at it from different views. Do you want something that will do the job or do you want tools in the workshop that you invite friends to come and see?
As for the rip saw the short answer is no. Even wonderful saws need sharpening. If you do not intend to file your own then go buy modern saws in bulk at your diy centre. Here you can buy in packs of 5 for under £20 I imagine that equates to same in $s, and you then throw them away. Although it is not impossible to resharpen them, but putting set to then is difficult (the teeth crack) because the teeth are hardened for cutting engineered boards
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