Make a riving brake for better leverage when splitting lumber

riving brake

Refined. The tripod riving brake proven right here is the subtle model of a contraption to assist maintain logs and billets as they’re cut up with a froe.

Get some splitting leverage with this easy contraption.

by Peter Follansbee

Revery for a froe, and you must instantly assume, “Give me a brake.” The brake may be a constructed workholding gadget, or simply a couple of logs. Its perform is to lure your workpiece in such a method which you could exert leverage on a part of a log because it’s splitting. The froe – used to separate a piece when it’s in a brake – is a device that requires some nuance to actually get probably the most from it; the brake helps make that occur.

There are lots of sorts and configurations of brakes. The primary one I discovered is simply a forked part of a tree, propped up with crossed timbers beneath.

riving brake with log and

Forked. Right here, a scholar is utilizing a forked-tree brake as he rives oak with a froe.

Jam your billet into the fork with its different finish on the bottom, and drive the froe into the highest finish. As you twist the froe deal with, you’re pulling towards the thicker a part of the cut up. Relying on many elements, you may have to flip your workpiece this manner and that to get the thick aspect of the cut up on the underside, or close to, aspect.

In a pinch, I've improvised a brake with a log and a part of cut up oak; it’s a bit awkward, nevertheless it works. In each of those instances, the workpiece is fairly near vertical.

riving brake log

In a pinch. A log and a cut up part of wood can function a brake if want be.

A few years in the past, I discovered of a totally different brake: a giant tripod with two cross bars fastened to its two entrance legs. My newest model (proven on the prime of this text) is about 6-12‘ tall, and bolted collectively on the prime. The legs are softwood 4x4s; the crossbars are oak 2x6s. The rear leg swings out between the 2 entrance legs.

Throughout the entrance legs I've variously nailed or lag-bolted two crosspieces. One is horizontal, about waist excessive. The opposite is above this rail, angled upward towards the left-hand finish of issues. The thought is that these two rails create a tapered fork into which you'll be able to jam your riving inventory.

One other function is that this higher rail is hooked up to the entrance face of my proper-hand piece, and behind the opposite leg. This supplies a broader vary of factors at which to pinch a workpiece. I typically add one other rail operating from the left-hand entrance leg to the again leg, as proven above. I exploit this one to seize lengthy whippy items between the entrance decrease rail and the again finish of this aspect rail.

I want this contraption to a forked-tree riving brake as a result of it places the workpiece you’re riving parallel to the bottom. This manner, the strain you’re exerting to regulate the cut up is instantly downward, not up within the air like on the primary brake I used (or on the log model).

The riving I do for joiner’s work is fairly easy, all that inventory is pretty thick; 1″ to 1-12“at the very least.

Oak ‘Hurdles’

Just lately I used to be making some backyard hurdles, and for these the stuff I need to rive is usually fairly skinny, typically solely 12” thick. It takes finesse to get a cut up like that, however with good inventory, a sturdy riving brake and a few follow, you possibly can cut up lengths as much as 6′ with ease.

oak hurdle

Oak hurdle. Right here’s my a hurdle – a conventional moveable fence – based mostly on an English regional type (you’ve possible additionally seen woven willow hurdles). Regardless of the type, the use is identical: to maintain issues in or out.

Having the entrance rails in several planes helps when coercing a cut up that threatens to go astray. The offset between the rails means the strain factors at the moment are unfold out; the inventory rests on the decrease bar close to you, however is pinched beneath the higher bar now about four″-6″ farther again.

That is useful when you’re directing the froe’s motion by leaning on the heavier aspect of the cut up. You possibly can bend the inventory and drive the cut up again on monitor if it wanders. Longer inventory achieves the identical by being trapped on prime of the entrance decrease rail and beneath the aspect rail.

When riving lengthy inventory, the motion just isn't a fast jerk of the froe, however a mild and slight levering of the deal with. The sound shouldn't be the tearing of fibers like splitting with wedges, however a “tic-tic-tic” as every push on the deal with advances the cut up a methods.

Watch as you go, if the cut up “runs out” towards a thinner aspect, flip the inventory over so the thick half of the cut up is down, and lean on the highest as you push the now-thicker aspect down. Lever the deal with – “tic-tic-tic” – and also you’re again on monitor. Straightforward does it.

The hurdles are easy: three uprights, a number of rails and a couple braces. Bore holes within the uprights, and use a chisel to cut between them to make the mortises. Hew or use a drawknife to suit the rails. All of the joints and the braces are nailed or pegged in place.

boring holes

Bore… Lay out your mortise places, and bore a gap at both finish….

…then Chop. Use a chisel to cut out the waste between the holes.

Hold your hurdles mild; these initially served as moveable enclosures for sheep. I've no sheep right here in my in-city yard, so I exploit a couple of hurdles to maintain our youngsters from careening into the river when sledding within the winter.  PWM

Rails. Use a hatchet or drawknife to form the rails and match the via-tenons (which needn’t be tight), then peg or nail the braces in place.

Peter has been concerned in conventional craft since 1980. Learn his weblog at

This text first appeared in the April 2016 problem of Fashionable Woodworking Journal.
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