Riving logs

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    Does any one have experience with riving logs? Like this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_kCejknF8bY
    Just next doors to where I live a storm felled a huge oak a couple of years ago, and the owner (an institution) removed most of it but left the thickest part of the trunk. I has been laying there for a couple of years now, and I think they left it because it was to big for the sawyer. I guess it is roughly 4-5 feet in diameter and 12-15 feet long. Pristine oak. It is painful just thinking about it going to waste. I think I might be able to have it for free if I can move it. No owning a mega saw mill my question is: can a log of this size and age be riven by a complete novice (or perhaps with some help someone more knowledgable)?

    John Purser

    As someone who’s tried to split dry oak logs before I’ll venture the opinion that you are not going to get anything out of this worth 1/10th of the work you are setting yourself up for.

    Oak splits great when green. If you look at the “Make a chair”, “Make a foot stool” etc. from a tree sites they all start with GREEN wood freshly felled.

    But if you try it let me know how it comes out.


    John Purser
    Hubert, NC

    David R.

    I have no idea what the situation is where you live, but here in Germany there is a company specialized in mobile lumber mills named Logosol (http://www.logosol.de). Maybe you have something similar nearby or someone with some kind of self-made jig for this.

    Good luck.


    from Germany


    John, I suspected dry might be a problem – and just the sheer size of the trunk.

    Thanks David for the suggestion. I will look at logosol. I know there are mobile lumber mills around here, but I wonder if they are bog enough.



    Do you think a 4-5 feet diameter trunk will dry in 2 years?
    I read somewhere that it needs one year per inch if it’s protected from rain, which I guess yours is not.

    If you do attempt, please let us know the result because I’m also interested in doing similar things…


    Good point Xpro, except the very ends it’s not dry, but 2 years is a long time to start checking and rotting. Still it would be great to hear of you giving it a go and having success.

    Here’s another video to consider and be better prepared than this guy.

    Have a ton of material for wedges and gluts ready and for something that large you’ll need something to add even more splitting force. It might take a car or farm type jack to get it to split. There’s probably other ways this was done back in the day and I’d love to know what they are.


    If I can offer some advice. I own a small mill and a 4 or 5 foot diameter log will not be able to be cut by most small portable mills. That is a huge trunk section. It’s got to weigh several thousand pounds.

    As far as splitting it out goes, unless you want 12 foot lengths I would saw it at least in half or more before attempting to drive wedges and bust it open. Get a read on this by checking how straight the full section is. If the bark is twisting around the trunk the wood inside is twisted too. Also, look for significant lumps or bumps in the surface of the trunk. These could be old branch growth or twisted grain inside. If it’s nice and straight I would tackle it. Otherwise call in a pro to saw it into manageable bolts.

    If it’s been outside in the weather most likely it’s got a lot of green wood inside still. Do not! Do not! Chain saw like Mr. Buchanan did in his video. Firstly, he is wearing shorts, no leg protection and he is undercutting with the tip of the chain bar which can kick out and hit your legs. I’m sure he’s a great chair maker but he’s not paying attention to safety in that video.

    A cant hook is a must to roll big logs and your’s will take some muscle to roll and more than one cant hook advised (Helper). Safe sawing means you will be rolling this log over to complete cuts. If there is a split or splits started in the end grain that’s where you need to start your wedges, and you will need a lot of wedges to split something this big. Drive a line of wedges from near center towards the outside perimeter. Then continue along the length with successive wedges. This oak should split out OK but not without a lot of work on your part and a helper.

    If it shows no signs of splitting, bolt it (saw it) down into firewood. That’s a lot of tree and a lot of wood. Unless you have some history splitting big logs, practice on some smaller ones first to see how to work it. It’s not worth getting injured otherwise. Definitely get some help. I have a four foot diameter pine log that ate two of my wedges last Autumn refusing to split (twisted grain) that I will have to saw up this spring instead. This is a large undertaking. Post the site if you attempt this and let us know your progress. Posting a photo or two in advance would definitely aid in giving you advice.

    Joe B.

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