Riving wood Capitalizes on Weakness
Today I talk about riving wood. Why do it, what species to consider and when to use a wedge and when to use a froe. Then I talk about the falling prices of Cherry, Buying CITES species, drying turned bowls, and why small sawmills seem to only sell slabs.
Riven or split wood can be very straight and strong. Given the correct species that is. Many will say that not all wood species can be split and this is most likely what they are referring to. Personally I think you can split any wood, but some species will do so unpredictably. More like fracturing a bit of quartz or flint than splitting. Still with a wedge and a sledgehammer you can split just about any species. What really distinguishes riven wood is the end result or usage. We rive wood because it is way faster than trying to saw an entire log. Once you get down to smaller pieces we continue to rive because the process capitalizes on the weakness inherent in the structure of wood. The wood splits along the pores between the growth rings leaving very straight grain and a single growth ring visible on the face of the piece. This lack of grain runout means a very strong, flexible piece perfect for applications with dynamic load. This is why riven wood makes great spindles in Windsor chairs. You can shape them impossibly thin and delicate and yet they are super strong. They also flex without breaking to give the feel of the chair even more comfort.