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Struggling to split Cherry Log

Started by DrakeTruber, May 08, 2024, 10:29:56 PM

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Hey folks, I have black cherry that I am trying to split into a clean slab. Snapped my chalk line, went to the trouble of hammering my hatchet all along the intended split lines before hand, and then split with steel wedges. Everything seemed to be going well until the end of the split, where I found that the grain in the middle had wandered away. I tried on the opposite side of the log and the same incident happened. How can I prevent the grain wandering off like that in the middle? Thanks for your feedback

Don P

The young tree was not perfectly straight, which is normal. The split follows the grain, which was not straight in that young tree. I don't see anything in your pile that would split straight. On the plus side we can suggest a chainsaw mill as labor saving device in this thread  ffcheesy


You can not prevent what is already in the log. 

Due to the nature of Cherry, most logs have a natural "pith check".  I see one in the log that you have already split running from about 2 o'clock at the top to about 7 o'clock at the bottom.  There is nothing that you can do with this one that you have already started, but in the future, I would orient any splitting with this pith check.

You are experiencing grain run out by trying to follow a line.  I would not pop a line but start the split on one end and follow through from that end and let the split follow the natural grain of the log.

I also recommend a chainsaw.
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doc henderson

looks a bit like work.  Nice job.
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Thanks for the feedback guys. Is the subtle spiraling of the bark what told you that Don? Magicman, that's interesting advise to just follow the grain.

With a slightly less than perfectly straight grained tree, what would be the old-timey way to remove large amounts of material to get things flat after splitting? An adze or broadax perhaps?

Roger that on the chainsaw


You probably want either a side axe or a hewing axe.  A side axe has the handle off to one side instead of directly inline with the head of the axe.  This allows you to follow the plane of the surface of the wood without banging your knuckles, etc.  A hewing axe usually has a big bearded blade that is used to true up beams and the like.
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Don P

Heck no, nothing subtle, it's cherry  ffcheesy. You don't have a straight stick in the pile and it is known for "not a straight stick in the pile". Funny though, once its dry it was the wood used for typeface because of its stability.

You can hew, broadaxe, adze, jack plane and get there. Or some form of sawing.

If you look at a hewn log cabin you can see the cross grain strikes every few inches down to a certain depth then a broadaxe hews to connect those chops. The cross grain chops keep a long twisting grain from diving too far off plane.

It can be cleaned up or done with any degree of care desired, this is a good bit more finished;


Awesome response Don. I never thought about how the crosscut chops prevent the grain diving to deep during the hewing. That must be why the chops are always done slightly deeper than the intended plane? 

I have a broadaxe and broad hatchet, both unused. Still need to get them both sharpened and the hatchet bit hung. This is all pretty new and exciting but the hang ups in the learning process are brutal. Ive been learning everything from books, this forum and some Youtube. Been a huge fan of this forum for a while so I'm very grateful to partake of the wisdom shared here. Thanks


Just out of curiosity what are you making?  
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A japanese Atedai, basically a floor planing/work bench.

maple flats

I sence a chainsaw mill in your future. Good luck!
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