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Riving Wood

QUESTION: Can anyone advise me on the best way to rive hard maple for legs.I just purchased a log and cut it into 30" segments. The grain appears to run straight but it will not split to a consistent demension. I'm trying to split 2" square billets but they ivariably run out. Also if I turn the legs now, will they warp when they dry out? Thanks, tko 5/29/03

REPLY:  You don't need 30" lengths for turnings. I'd cut them to the length of my longest pieces, and then add up to a couple inches longer. Shorter splits easier.

Lay out your splits (say, about 2.25" squares if you are shooting for 1.75" turned legs) so that you can halve the workpiece with every split. If you have good straight stock and are roughly halving the workpiece each split, you shouldn't have much trouble with runout.

When the workpiece is thin enough to bend a bit you can control the run out a little. This is described in basketmaking books, and I'll try to describe it here. It is most useful when splitting the longer, thinner stock for back bows and spindles. The principle of halving the workpiece is always a goal. But when the split heads in a direction you don't want it to, bend the top of the workpiece towards the direction you want the split to change to while you lever it with the froe. Slowly, gently. It takes practice, but it works really well. Hope this helps.

I turn my rivings to 2", coat the ends with shellac and let them dry out before I finish turn them. Green turned legs work OK, but you can't get a real crisp detail on them. Also when they dry out they're apt to poke up a bit through the seat. Look at the finished chair in Mike Dunbar's book, and how proud the end of the leg taper is out of the seat's surface. That's what I'm talking about. GB 5/29/03


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