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#8342 - 08/31/00 11:32 PM Hewing....
mb Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/10/99
Posts: 0
Going to set out to hew several pieces for a small frame.... Seeking suggestions and starting points for this adventure. I have done a bit of hewing at an oldtimers demo, but am trying to rework the physics in my head to find the most efficeint way....
Any hints would be appreciated.

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#8343 - 09/01/00 11:47 AM Re: Hewing....
Jim Rogers Offline

Member

Registered: 03/14/02
Posts: 1608
Loc: Georgetown, MA, USA
If you read Jack Sobon's book "Timber Frame Construction" on page 70 he descibes the ways to hew a beam. They include: Positioning the Log for Hewing, Layout, Scoring with a Felling Axe, Hewing with the Broadax and using an Adz. Good Luck. Jim
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#8344 - 09/01/00 05:53 PM Re: Hewing....
milton Offline

Member

Registered: 02/06/99
Posts: 78
Loc: Jackson,NH,USA
Howdy:
I have not read said book, am no expert on the topic, but Mr. Sobon clearly knows his stuff. A search of the modern writings on the topic should be easy with Internet access.
A clear understanding of the nature, composition and behavior of wood is going to help but results will improve with practise. Shin pads and steel-toed shoes are not a bad idea but are no replacement for a well reasoned approach.
As they told me in scouts "never whittle towards yourself"
Where are you located? There may be a hewer working in the area.

Best luck,
Curtis

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#8345 - 12/22/01 11:10 PM Re: Hewing....
Anonymous
Unregistered


Hello MB:
I have many years experience demonstrating the art of hewing, and listening to many visitors from all over the world. One thing that I found out was that hewing varied with different cuntries. My style is of German Dutch descent, but probably classified as North American at this point in time. I stand on the log to score below my feet, and then stand by the side of the log hewing downward and in front of my feet.
Contact me for more information, i
I'de love to chat,
The "Northern Hewer"

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#8346 - 12/23/01 11:50 AM Re: Hewing....
milton Offline

Member

Registered: 02/06/99
Posts: 78
Loc: Jackson,NH,USA
Welcome Northern Hewer:
Do you remove excess waste(some call juggling) after scoring while standing on the log? When broad-axing is the log at waist height? If right handed is your right or left hand toward the head of the axe? Your right or left leg forward?
Happy holidays,
Curtis

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#8347 - 01/14/02 09:52 PM Re: Hewing....
Anonymous
Unregistered


Hello Milton:
I will try and reply to your questions that pertain to my style of "hewing", or "broadaxing" usually associated with the squaring up of timber to be used for timberframe reconstructions\repairs, and new construction displays nowadays.
I must emphasize that how I positioned myself as I worked is not necessarily the only way that others worked, It is predominantly the way that research has proved to us here in Ontario Canada that "hewing" was carried out by the Early pioneering family groups that migrated to this part of the New World from Germay, England, Scotland, Ireland, Holland and France.
The Curved handles of all the broadaxes in the Collection here at UCV curve outward from the flat of the blade usually about 3". This means that the hewer had to stand on the outside of the surface to be hewn. With that technicality out of the way and after you have scored the log by standing on the top surface you would then reposition yourself beside the log standing according to your preferred hand style. Being right handed myself I grasp the axe with my right hand close to the head of the axe, and my right foot slightly ahead of my left foot, but not far enough ahead to be in harm's way. I begin the process of hewing by working forward while removing the large chunks of wood between the deep scoring marks, the bases of which reach within approximately 3\4" of the finished line.Upon reaching the end of the log, I then reposition myself on top, and with the scoring axe, I put in multiple series of scoring marks one above the other, and approximately 3" to 4" apart again the full length of the log. I would then work backward along the log removing the remaining 3\4" fo material down to the finished surface taking care to leave as smooth a surface as possible. This would continue for all four sides.
notes:
Standing on the log is only necessary when you are scoring below and between your feet.
The logs are usually placed only on bedpieces that are above the surface of the ground 4 or 5 inches maximum.
The Northern Hewer

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#8348 - 01/15/02 12:07 AM Re: Hewing....
milton Offline

Member

Registered: 02/06/99
Posts: 78
Loc: Jackson,NH,USA
Well N H : I assume that you have all your body parts and this is some measure of success as a hewer. Your poor axe must suffer with the log only inches from the ground and your toes. How do you see the line on the bottom of the log? Will the timber benefit from working only one side and from both directions? How do you deal with irregularities in the wood and the inevitable release of tension from one side of the log at a time? With only minor hewing experience I have seen quite a bit of release on the saw carriage and would never presume I could do other than cooperate with the wood, and it does not just lay there.
Just wondering,
Curtis

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#8349 - 01/15/02 08:57 PM Re: Hewing....
Anonymous
Unregistered


Hi Milton:
Turning round logs into "rough hewn" square timbers means just that, remember that the product of the hewing process is in a majority of cases a timber with a very uneven and irregular surface more so if done by an inexperienced person. I have seen frames one in particular which was a church frame, the vertical timbers of which there were many that appeared to have been squared by very inexperienced tradesmen. In this case the principal timbers were nicely done, with the interveening timbers very roughly finished.
What I am getting at is your preoccupation of not being able to see the bottom line. There is no need for a line on the bottom, the only line needed is on the top surface. During the hewing process if the log is set up properly, and not moved, the finished side should be vertical, and as you gain experience the finished surface will be unusually straight top and bottom. I usually aimed to hew out alittle on the bottom, especially on the first side, the reason being that during the framing process when you are utilizing your product of hewing, the timber would end up slightly oversized this being better than undersized, where you could run into problems of strength, andshouldering of mortises. Personally i never noticed much warping of timbers during the hewing process, and I have worked on timbers up to 50' in length. What usually happens is as you work on the final side, the long timbers will get slightly flimsy, and it may be necessary to crowd the centre one way or another to keep the size right at the centre point. You mention the tension noticed during the sawing process, I have seen that also, but remember that the saw logs being used could have alot of wind stress inside, while the timbers that i usually selected for hewing were special picked for straightness, and size, as they probably were years ago. You also were wondering about the axe, and how I kept from knicking it during the hewing process on the ground, well for starters I always kept my axe really sharp, this meant that i did not have to strike hard, this in turn meant that I had good control as I struck downward, and could stop the downward travel of the axe usually before it broke through the bottom of the cut. Always just for the safety of the cutting edge I would work in an area with a depth of chips from many days of work. This again was a natural thing to do with one area being used usually to do these sort of jobs. In the case where you are starting in a new area I used a small 1" pine board under where I was working, until I had a sufficient build up of chips to use. In all my years of hewing, I chipped the edge of my axe once, and that was due to a hemlock knot, which are notorious for knicking axe edges especially those that are very keen, and slim tapered on the cutting edge. I hope this helps you get some idea of how I hew, the subject has somewhat of a mystery to it, it all boils down to having some idea of the technique used, and then with practice gaining confidence in your ability, familiarity with your axes, and their handles, and after a while it will surprise you the quality of timbers that you can produce, which in turn will have your marks on their surfaces.
the Northern Hewer

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#8350 - 01/16/02 12:03 PM Re: Hewing....
Will Truax Offline
Member

Registered: 05/02/02
Posts: 447
Loc: Center Barnstead NH
Hey Curtis & Richard

Thought I'd jump in... One of the most interesting things about timberframing in general and hewing in particular is that despite how small our little community is, the variations in methodology are vast. This was particularly evident at the hewing demos staged at Colonial Williamsburg back in '95 and reenforced as I've been lucky to practice with different folks over time.

For me hewing up high (just above waist high) always seemed the most natural choice in that it helps avoid prolonged periods of bending over and I still carry this over even to the scoring process. I've now practised this two man nordic tradition with four different partners, you simply are more efficient with far less wear and tear on the back.

I have to say I find It's a rare log which doesn't react to the process and have experimented with this on occasion, snapping parrallel lines and then streaching dry lines over them to gage change, with intent, failed to "box" the pith so as to allow the tension wood on one side to retract and minimize an unwanted curve, and have even snapped deviated lines to remove tension wood anticipating that those deviated lines would then straighten, almost always with excellent results. Curtis you may recall our doing this to that hybrid Oak you felled for the Malabarns' last Belly beam.

Most of the hewing I do anymore are the two curved faces on natural curves and usually remove the sapwood from the outside face first so no curve is lost.

I agree wholeheartedly that long stems are extremely "elastic" so much so they are hard to handle and I will break from the normal practice of working my way around a stick to hewing two opposite faces then snapping out both lines for the last two sides at the same time, before the stem becomes "wiggley". Nor do I hew to a line on the bottom face, but check with my visual plumb, rarely reaching for a bubble or a bob.
_________________________
"We build too many walls and not enough bridges" - Isaac Newton

http://bridgewright.wordpress.com/


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#8351 - 01/16/02 09:47 PM Re: Hewing....
Anonymous
Unregistered


Hello again Will and others:
Its been a delight to discuss this subject with all of you, and now especially with you Will.
I enjoy your input into the height of the log for the hewing process. There is no doubt that there have been many variations in this regard. Once when I was demonstrating "broadaxing" to quite a large group one fellow stepped right up to me and in no uncertain terms told me that i was doing nothing right. I quietly said that according to our research department, my personal family background, and many thousands of senior visitors who reassured me that I in fact was hewing in exactly the way that had been practiced by our\their ancestors. i did ask him to remain behind that I was quite interested in talking at length with him. To make a long story short this fello was from Sweden, and according to him the hewers in his country stood on top of the log on the opposite side of the line, and hewed beside their feet. this meant that the bowed handle had to curve the opposite way ie: inward, to componsate for the different position of the hewer. I took from his conversation that the log was not placed high but lower or nearer the ground. i have run across tradesmen hewing logs a quite a bit higher than I do, and as I watch them work it seemed to me that there was more of a chance of cutting themselves, but then that is only my observation. they also seemed to be working ahead through the grain of the timber rather than down . It is an intriguing subject though, and When I began to demonstrate the art of hewing many years ago it was very necessary to back up what ever we did on site with historic refernce. material. Actually this is very interesting and in many cases no matter what you attempt to do you can feel reassured that you are attempting to be as historically accurate as possible, and not relying on hersay or family traditions.
The Northern Hewer

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#8352 - 01/17/02 08:40 PM Re: Hewing....
Anonymous
Unregistered


Hello Will:
I am quite interested in your style of Nordic Hewing, and would appreciate alittle more info such as; how high you place your hewing logs, and how you hold them from shifting around. You mentioned that on long logs you would hew opposite sides, and then work the remaining two sides--as you move from side to side how do you ensure that the log soes not shift, remembering that at this stage the log is still round on the bottom and top. It is interesting that you worked in teams, we did too when the manpower was around, especially during framing events, and the work had to proceed on schedule, and this usually was made up of a hewer, and a scorer- one rested while the other worked. Did you hew one team on each side ie: 4 people at a time?, and did you all use safety equipment?. It interests me in knowing how long the broadaxe handles are that you and your partners use?
I use a 26", that is from the end of the handle to the outside of the head. Many variations of lengths I know were used from the hewing axes that we have in storage.
Does anyone else in this forum have input on this particular subject?
the Northern Hewer

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#8353 - 01/18/02 01:11 PM Re: Hewing....
Will Truax Offline
Member

Registered: 05/02/02
Posts: 447
Loc: Center Barnstead NH
The only aspect of my tecqnique that I describe as Nordic is the two man scoreing, once common to the nordic countries and discussed and pictured in Phelps' book on logcrafting, two men work either side of the score notch simultaneously on the verticle face. (far easier and not nearly as dangerous as it sounds) We then go on to juggle within an 1/8th of the line with felling axes from both the ground and atop the log, then hew from there. I'm lefty and am most always partnered with a righty which is convenient as we work from either end and meet in the middle.

Handles about the same length and as far as safty equipment goes, I always make it a point to wear shoes !
_________________________
"We build too many walls and not enough bridges" - Isaac Newton

http://bridgewright.wordpress.com/


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#8354 - 01/18/02 02:45 PM Re: Hewing....
Clark Bremer Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/14/02
Posts: 0
Loc: Minnesota
First, I want to thank Richard, Curtis and Will for the fascinating discussion. I had one question which I haven't seen answered yet: Is any wood actually removed during the scoring process, or does it just leave slits in the log? CB.

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#8355 - 01/18/02 08:36 PM Re: Hewing....
Anonymous
Unregistered


Hello Clark-thanks for the question, and Will thanks for the reply to the Nordic technique, eventhough I have never worked 2 hewers right and left handed on one log I expect that it would progress quite well, and I expect that it did happen, because I have noticed on the finished surfaces of old hewn timber the clear telltale cuts from both right and left handed scorers meeting in the centre of the timber. This also tells me that both right and left handed hewers were at work on the same log. It would have been especially usefull on the large logs that the long heavy framing timbers were fashioned from in times gone by.
Talking about scoring for Clark's question, and remembering this now is just my personal experiences, scoring has one main purpose that is to make it possible to hew or broadaxe timber from a round log in gradual steps. Step #1 would be the rough scoring notches, which are "v"s cut initially from the round side inward to a preset distance from the line on the upper surface. Depending on the the size of the log these "v"s represent alot of physical work and are usually not placed any closer than necessary. Clark you wanted to know if scoring removed any wood the answer is yes a fair amount to create these "v"s, it is surprising how the chips from this process quickly piles up along side of the log, and will involve removal away so as not to interfere with the hewing process which follows the scoring each time. In good straight grained pine the wood between the notches will split off quite easily with a heavy blow from the hewing axe, also adding to the clutter alongside of the log. Still on the subject of scoring for Clark, after the rough scoring and hewing pass is complete, what I call the finish scoring pass then has to be completed, and during this operation no wood is removed, but rather a series of vertical cut marks are placed along the newly hewn surface every 3 to 4" or more depending on the whim of the hewer. NO wood is removed by the finish scoring process, rather emphasis is placed on not scoring too deeply but just deep enough to cut the grain of the wood so hewing can continue.
Enjoy your company!--the Northern Hewer

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#8356 - 01/19/02 02:34 PM Re: Hewing....
Will Truax Offline
Member

Registered: 05/02/02
Posts: 447
Loc: Center Barnstead NH
Ditto- material is removed but we try to keep the V's as narrow as possible with two man, simply to minimize ax blows. this becomes increasingly difficult with the increase in required depth, the score notches grow as you approach the buttress and at some point our V's change to W's so that a chip is ejected with every blow.
This leaves a very distinct blem with over- penetration and I wish to explore frames in geo-locals where two man was practiced with the added interest of finding such a blem.

The distance betwixt notches is maximized and varies from stem to stem after gaging splitibility of the juggles, looking for, say 3 blows max to split off a juggle.

We rough hew with a felling axe after juggling to within that 1/8th and likewise "backscore" trying to barely penetrate the anticipated finished face. It is only at this point that I pick up the broad ax
_________________________
"We build too many walls and not enough bridges" - Isaac Newton

http://bridgewright.wordpress.com/


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#8357 - 01/19/02 09:52 PM Re: Hewing....
Anonymous
Unregistered


Hi all once again:
It seems to me that your style will work probably quite well, and probably was used in many cases where no broadaxe was available, and one had to resort to what ever was on hand. As I have always said there is many ways to do everything, and woodworking is no different. As you look at an historic example of hewn timber, I believe that it is quite possible to evision how much care or technique was put into its manufacture. Close examination of the finished surface will give telltale evidence of the care of the woodworker and his expertise. I expect that most men in "those" days received training under their piers --usually their father, who if anything like mine expected perfection in their son's work. This training was handed down from generation to generation, and sons usually started just as soon as they could hold and swing the weight of an axe. there was always a certain amount of competetiveness and pride in the work as it progressed. I guess what I am trying to say is that the hewers of the days gone by probably had proper training, unlike you and I today who are trying to become selftrained in one way or another, either by experimentation, historical study or observation of old manuscripts or documents. My conversations with many from the "olde countries" tell me that they have also lost the true stlyes of historical woodworking, and are looking to us for some of the answers. Thanks for the continued discussion,
The Northern Hewer

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