This post is part of a blog series revealing the table of contents of upcoming Issue Twelve. As is our custom, we’ll be discussing one article per weekday in order to give you a taste of what is come.
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Hand-tool woodworkers recognize the virtues of the different species they utilize: the workability of pine, the beauty of walnut, the resilience of maple. But some types of trees demonstrate attributes so unique that they make an entirely different way of working wood possible. One such is the ash, revered and sought for millennia for its ability to separate along growth rings after pounding, creating beautifully uniform splints that can be woven into baskets, containers, and chair seats. This sort of craft is rarely seen in the woodshop today, seeming more akin to weaving or fiber arts. But it is most definitely woodworking. And it deserves another look.
In his article for Issue Twelve, author Brendan Gaffney offers a thorough and compelling examination of the process of gathering ash splint, starting in the forest. He discusses selecting a tree and evaluating grain, riving, and working billets down on a shave horse to prepare for pounding. Gaffney describes the benefits of the billet-pounding method, rather than working an entire log all at once, and brings us through every step of the process from beginning to end.
This is truly the most complete tutorial we’ve seen on the art of harvesting ash splint. Concise details, thoughtful observations, and clear photographs are sure to help and inspire your own explorations in the use of this wonderful material.
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