How to Transform Found Wood Into Usable Stock
Start by Sectioning the Logs
Because the slabs of wood we had lugged back to our offices were much too large to handle, our first task was to section them. And it didn't take us long to find out that you can't just divide up a log any old way you want. No, sir!
That's where knowing how to "read a log" comes in mighty handy. And fortunately for us, our project builder, has done quite a lot of log-splitting and was able to pass along some helpful tips. "Basically, you need to attack wood from its most vulnerable points-along the cracks that invariably occur during the drying process," he advised. "Think of it as exploiting the wood's weakness." Typically, the larger the log you're working with, the more stress cracks you will see.
Start by lifting the piece you plan to work on up to a comfortable height. (We sat ours on another slab.) Now, looking down onto the top of the log, determine which cracks you want to attack. Major fissures often will show down the side of the log as well as from the end.
Once you've settled on your course of action, begin driving a pair of wedges down into the top of the log as shown in the photo above, left. As you drive in the wedges, the sections of the log should separate; often, they pop apart under impact. Divide the log into as many sections as there are major cracks.
Here's an important safety reminder: Be sure to exercise all reasonable caution when sectioning your logs. Note that Jim has donned a face shield to deflect flying wood chips, as well as gloves to protect his hands from a glancing blow of the sledge.
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