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Re: historic hewing questionnaire [Re: Cecile en Don Wa] #27982 01/22/12 01:34 AM
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northern hewer Offline OP
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Hello everyone tonight

Hello to both of you for coming on board

That is very interesting Ken, and maybe it would work for the tapered rafters I am not sure but for sure it would work for shorter pieces.

Splitting out cedar fence rails is not an easy chore, especially with the cedar that we have growing now, the old rail fences were split from the large hollow red cedars that abounded in the early forests but are now long gone

I did run across large split threshing floor planks in one of the earliest barns around here it is a swing beam barn, and had floor planks that measured 36 inches across, that had been split from large pine trees, and were 20 feet in length.

It must have been quite a chore to have split them from these huge trees with what they no doubt had to work with in the 1700's

This same barn had waney roof board that were also 36 inches in width, and vertical sawn, these marks were quite noticeable, so immediately it dated the barn to the early 1800's, before circular blades came into use at least around here, even then they couldn't have sawn that large a log.

The large vertical blades that were 6.5' to 7' could easily have sawn these large logs--slowly--for sure--but steady!, theywould have been run by water power, usually a barrel wheel, not a turbine! there is quite a difference.

enjoy

NH

Re: historic hewing questionnaire [Re: northern hewer] #27983 01/22/12 07:46 PM
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Hello,

Those Romanian brothers from Carpenters of Europe are hewing pole stock right on the ground. I am guessing that this has a lot to do with this deflection problem Ken Hume has alluded to up there. Now that I think of it there is a kind of axe known in Sweden as "sparrbila" which could, in a stretch of imagination be called a double bearded axe as the one depicted on the tapestry there. A sparr in one sense is the sometimes rounded and sometimes, (partly), hewn, small diameter poles taken from the fir tree and used as rafters. These were something of a mass produced and widely exported product of the Swedish forest industry of earlier times. It would be interesting to know something of the technique used by these Swedish hewers. Was it the inclined technique or was it more like what the Romanians do, down there low on the ground?

Greetings,

Don Wagstaff

Re: historic hewing questionnaire [Re: Cecile en Don Wa] #27984 01/22/12 08:24 PM
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D L Bahler Offline
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The German term for Rafters is Sparren.
And I believe the German technique, prior to saws, was to stand on the rafter, which was set very low to the ground or even on it, and use the long handled Breitbeil (broad axe) which has a handle as long as a felling axe or even longer. This as opposed to the short handled Breitbeil, which is the goosewing we are all familiar with.
You would chop down below your feet with this axe, sweeping along the timber to square it off.
It is actually quite easy to square off a timber with this axe without snapping any lines at all, as the motion follows very naturally in a straight line and allows you to sight yourself as you go.
And here I think that the act of standing on the timber helps keep it from bouncing

This longer-handled axe has a heavy profile similar to a goosewing, having the lower beard but not the upward sweep. The bit is around 8 inches or so, as opposed to the 12 inch or more size of a goosewing bit. Its own weight is used to do all the work, rather than a forceful swing.

Last edited by D L Bahler; 01/22/12 08:29 PM.

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Re: historic hewing questionnaire [Re: D L Bahler] #27985 01/22/12 08:57 PM
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Hello,

Seems plausible. The intent not being to square up but to pair down. The only thing is, on the sparr rafters, as I will refer to them here, that I've seen the hewing marks are at a pretty steep angle which makes me think that they were cut if not up off the ground, than on an inclination. I incline toward the inclination hypotheses.

Greetings,

Don Wagstaff

Re: historic hewing questionnaire [Re: Cecile en Don Wa] #27986 01/22/12 09:14 PM
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D L Bahler Offline
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Don,

It is more than likely that things are not done the same everywhere. I am just pointing out here another method used


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Re: historic hewing questionnaire [Re: D L Bahler] #27987 01/23/12 01:43 AM
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Hello everyone tonight

Great conversation you guys, I was just wondering though with my feeble mind, if the poles were on the ground during the hewing process, how you protected the axe from damage?

No doubt there was a way, I would very much like to hear your take on the method used though.

I realize that sometimes it is very hard to visualize the methods that were used, although they were probably quite well known at that time.

They are still contemplating how many of the wonders of the world were accomplished with the means available then at their disposal

enjoy

NH

Re: historic hewing questionnaire [Re: northern hewer] #27989 01/23/12 07:32 PM
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Hello,

Never having done it for that very reason Richard, I can make no offer to explain. Sometimes securing a particular piece for hewing is not that straightfoward especially those smaller pieces, but, the laying on the ground total support method does seem to be the way the gentleman in this film clip is going about his business, no doubt after a lot of experience.

The coming time I'll be having a go at squaring up short lengths with the axe to pretty small dimensions for making rain gutter sections. My plan at the outset is to leave plenty of extra length over, of what would otherwise be unusable waste where the stem is kinked, for the hewing, and supporting the blank over a relatively shortened span, then easing slowly towards the dimensions of the rain gutters as I want them. So far it seems to be going good even without first scoring due to nice fresh wet wood, the minimal moisture evaporation at this time of year in this particularly wet and soggy winter, along with the axe sharpened good like it should be.

Greetings,

Don Wagstaff

Re: historic hewing questionnaire [Re: Cecile en Don Wa] #27991 01/24/12 01:47 AM
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northern hewer Offline OP
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Hello everyone tonight


Thanks Don for the information and a link to that site I thoroughly enjoyed it--it is always nice to see someone else hewing, only then can you compare techniques, of which there are many

He is hewing close to the ground but not right on the ground from what I can make out--I may be wrong but that is the way I see it. It does look like there are some sort of timbers with their tops just above ground level supporting the log he is hewing.

I noticed that he straddled the log, and hewed against the round section, leaving the flattened section behind as he works along.

We here in this country hew along the flattened section with the handle curving out from the freshly flattened surface. It is interesting to see his technique, he has to keep his handle very high, and that means hewing more along the grain rather than down across the grain

I wonder what he would do with a log that was 36 feet long and 46" in diameter, he couldn't straddle it for sure, probably stood on top, but it would be interesting to see what technique he would use to square this log, I am sure he had one.

One thing I am sure he had to be very careful not to strike his handle on the unhewn section by his legs, especially with larger logs.

you mention in the second part of your post a reference to making gutters, I was trying to follow it along, it seems to me that you are hewing the gutter flat on the sides,bottom and top but how would the hollowing be done, we used gutter adzes and left the gutters round and flat on top, the surface that we gouged out to form the gutter

Thanks again for your interesting post

enjoy

NH

Re: historic hewing questionnaire [Re: northern hewer] #27992 01/24/12 04:47 AM
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D L Bahler Offline
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When hewing with the long broad axe, I have never had any trouble with hitting the dirt even with timbers very close to the ground. My motion with this axe is usually vertical too, but I am relying on the axe's own weight combined with the mechanical advantage derived from the long handle to do all the work, and not actually swinging the axe. This means that in most cases, the wood just splits away calmly, and the axe doesn't fly through.
It is also very important not to try and remove and entire juggle as one solid piece on thicker sections, but to remove it in sections. This way the wood can easily split away and you don't have a sudden release of energy when it split off. In addition, when you are removing wood you finish your swing with a slight snap of the wrists, which gives the axe a kind of slicing motion, then when it is embedded in the wood you pry the piece of wood free with the axe. I tend to finish out the bottom of a section with slow, gentle, sweeping cuts that sometimes run more horizontal.

This long axe is single-beveled as well.


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Re: historic hewing questionnaire [Re: D L Bahler] #27993 01/24/12 04:51 AM
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It's important to not get in a hurry. Americans are impatient and want to remove wood quickly, but this will only lead to bad things. Even if you are built up enough physically that your can actually stand to swing a heavy broad axe with some force all day long, it is still not a good idea. A swung axe of this style can be very dangerous, bouncing and deflecting and surging through the wood into the ground or worse into your foot. But if you take your time and let the axe do all of the work, it is very very easy to control and actually there is very little risk even though your are bringing a heavy axe head that is 8 inches wide down from a height of perhaps 10 feet or more. The only risk here is if the user becomes suddenly very stupid.


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