A few weeks ago I was musing how come I had never seen a dedicated bench
For splitting off tenon cheeks or small blocks to be driven through the
Lots of small jobs around the bench you need to split wood along the grain.
I'll admit I had always just used a wide chisel for this.
Sort of brutal for fine chisel though.
But mostly, the angle of attack sucked being so high above the bench.
(work height + chisel height and up on top of the bench, on top of a
sacrificial scrap of wood)
So I found a piece of steel. I believe it had been part of some kind of
custom prybar. It was long enough and wide enough and was about spring
tempered for hardness.
I cut out what I thought I needed and set to, and massively ground it true.
Full taper ground from the spine to -almost- the edge.
A froe is never sharp. Dull as a froe is a saying. You want to part the
fibers, not cut them.
I grabbed a scrap of wood from the scrap box and tried it out.
Hot damn! Split easy and true!
I was feeling pretty smug when I took a second look.
Oh crap, my soft easy work had made a shallow mark across the face of my
1930's vintage Plomb Los Angeles solid brass mechanics mallet!!
This would not do! I am not beating up my favorite tools!!
So I grabbed a scrap of hard wood from the scrap box and tried that.
It worked alright but it --really-- beat the crap out of the wood. Froe
clubs always wear fast, but this would be ridiculous.
Hitting hardened steel with a steel hammer is never a good idea. Bad
things are waiting to happen there.
Grrrrrrrrrrr heartbroken, I just set it aside.
Mumble mumble mumble ughghghggh
A few weeks later I saw it forlornly laying there on the corner of my
bench and got an idea.
The froe is about spring tempered and industrial steel pipe is barely
any softer that that.
Its pretty tough. Its supposed to be tough.
So I searched though my tiny boneyard of scrap steel and found a
piece of full thickness 2" plain pipe. (its at least schedule 40 and
maybe schedule 80)
I tried it and not only did it part the work, but it left no trace at
all on the either the pipe or the tool.
Hot Snot I was back in business!!
I grabbed a handy limb from my stash (yes I have always saved good
sticks when I come across them). I think it was maple from my front yard
but it could have been the wild cherry.
I made the piece of pipe into a mallet.
I searched out some cocobolo to make the froe handle. I always liked
coffin shaped bowie knife handles so I did it at least a little of that
Got myself a bench froe!!
Now if I just had a perfect place to stash it between
Box 409 Happy Camp, Ca 96039