Hults Bruk, a maker of hand forged axes since 1697 moved into the North American market in 2015. Recently they launched a program to promote their axes via social media. I applied and while was not selected I was a finalist and as such received a free axe to review. I selected the Tibro Carpenter Axe. I have a chainsaw and will be mostly working on my 10 acre property, so I felt a felling axe would be less useful.
I’ve always wanted to learn more “rustic” woodworking and a good carpenters axe is one of the basic tools needed. The edge comes very sharp and an almost a mirror finish. The over length is about 20″ with a 1-3/4 lb head. This is definitely not something you want to be out swinging at a tree with as it is too short. However since it is design for more close up work the length isn’t a problem. The finish on the handle does feel a little slick out of the box, I’ll see if rubbing it with to take the sheen off of it.
Now I just need some projects to use it on. Below is an interesting video of the forging process.
One of my goals is to be able to make handles from wood that I cut down. I have a couple of small black walnuts that need to be cut down and a shag bark hickory that was damage in a storm. The tool I don’t have yet is a froe, which is used to split out blanks from a round log and a shaving horse will make the process easier, but not required. I have a draw knife that might be older than me so I do have to figure out how to sharpen it.
My plan is to cut lengths at about 6′, 4′ and 2′ and split out some handle blanks. This will cover the lengths of everything from a rake or hoe to a hammer. They will need to be seasoned of course and that means coating the ends so they don’t dry to quickly and cause the wood to split. There is something called Anchorseal that the lumber industry uses to for this purpose, but hobbyist also just use exterior grade latex paint.
Having a stock of handle material air-drying is an investment that every homesteader should do it they can. From what amounts to a chunk of firewood you can get a valuable resource for next to no money. Consider it an investment in future tool needs.
If your woodworking projects are of a more utilitarian nature you will not want to spend the money on finished hardwood. However if you have looked at the stack of 2 x 4’s and the local big box home improvement store you may wonder how can I build anything straight out of this pile of twisted boards generously called lumber. Generally they also have too high a moisture content to be considered stable. You can however get something usable at a decent price with a little planing ahead. The key is buying ahead of time and properly stacking.
This will require a little space but your best bet is to buy wide and long boards and then store them stacked and “sticker-ed”. Find the best looking boards that are 2″ x 8″ or wider and 12′ long. Then stack them starting with a level platform with small boards, or stickers, running across the boards between each layer. You want airflow around all sides of each board so it can dry as evenly as possible. It also helps to have weights on top of the pile to keep it flat while it dries.
After several weeks to a few months you will have lumber that is much more stable. You can then cut out of the sides of each board good usable wood for projects like a workbench, shelves and other projects. Looking at the end or a board the best parts has grain that runs across the board from top to bottom. If you see the grain forming a shallow arc starting and ending on the same side of the board, that section will tend to warm and twist more.
Consider a small pile of lumber a good investment to make. You will have it if you ever need something in a hurry and when you do build a project you will find that the wood you have dried a bit to produce better results.
So much of what I’ve learned and been taught about woodworking (and I’m far from an expert) all deals with kiln dried wood that has already been planed to a standard thickness and finished on 4 sides. This have been used to create fine (and not so fine) furniture for centuries and now is something you pay a fair bit for. In all fairness if you are going to build something that has the potential to last for generations the initial cost of the wood is not really an issue when viewed with the lens of time.
However many of us need to build more temporary items who’s use will be measured in years at most rather than decades or maybe will be in a location that is not conducive to long life. Or maybe we just want to spend less on the materials when we are learning woodworking. Further many of us have woods on our property and therefore have a supply of wood, just not the milled/kiln dried stuff that you see had the lumber yard or woodworking store. You could invest in a small sawmill or even get an attachment for your chainsaw, but you still have the drying time. There are traditional methods of working with green wood that takes advantage of how wood shrinks as it dries to make joint that lock up and will last for centuries. This type of work involved a lot of splitting of wood to get blanks rather than milling into boards. Further green wood is usually easier to cut than dry wood, something important when you do not have power tools. In my mind learning how to work with green would could be an advantage for those little things you need to build around your homestead, anything from handles to seating to roosts for your chickens.
I do have a couple of draw knifes that I got from who knows where, but I have never got any real use out of them. I think the missing piece is the shaving horse that I do not have and need to build. Interesting set of plans at Popular Woodworking that only requires one 10′ 2×10. However it does require a compound angle and I do not have a compound miter saw or band saw. I’ll have to look at the plans for a way to build with a table saw. Of course the old timers just built one out of what they had in the forest, so maybe I’ll try that.
Next Steps – build a shaving horse and learn the green woodworking joints
Crafting using a draw knife and shaving horse
Check out a bench made from two logs and a chainsaw. No nails, glue or pegs, the joints will tighten up as the wood dries
Sorry for an overly brief blog post, Save Our Skills will be back to full swing in a few weeks.
This site is a gold mine of wood working and DIY information.