The Best Oak Money Can’t Buy
By Peter Follansbee
From the October 2011 issue #192
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VIDEO: Watch bodger Don Weber split a log.
BLOG: Read Peter’s blog on period shop practices and joinery.
TO BUY: “17th Century New England Carving,” a new DVD from Peter Follansbee.
IN THE STORE: “Mechanick Exercises” by Joseph Moxon.
The riven oak that I use for joinery work is the best stock available; but it comes at a cost – the labor invested to produce it. Money can’t buy this material; you must split and plane it. But the rewards are many. The oak produced in this manner is unsurpassed, better even than quartersawn stock. Each riven board is perfectly radial, and consequently very dimensionally stable. Straight-grained oak, freshly split, or “green,” works like a dream. The effort involved in splitting and “dressing” the stock is physical, but fun work.
Another benefit of working this way is that you learn a good deal about trees and wood – how they grow, how it behaves. Green wood cuts much more easily than dry stock. Some planning is necessary in scheduling the processes that follow the splitting and planing, but it’s simple enough. In this article, I will outline the steps I go through to produce stock for joinery projects.