Quite a Workout!

“I worked outside in the open air under the cover of a woodworking shed. The wood I was given was a trunk of greenwood, freshly cut from a tree. Unseasoned wood like this has a naturally high moisture content. I had no choice of wood during the television program, but usually when choosing the best wood for splitting you need to take great care to pick a vertically grown tree with no twists or knots along its surface. This ensures that once the wood is split it will be far less likely to bend or crack. It’s also important to make sure you have more wood than you might need. This ensures you have “spare parts” in the event of any issues or mishaps later down the line. 

I got a huge shock when I first saw the log and realized I had to split a trunk that size. The log was easily a good half-meter across; splitting it alone took five hours and was quite a workout! Logs for chairmaking are usually half this diameter as they traditionally come from younger trees. When using greenwood it’s essential to split the wood as opposed to sawing it, allowing the wood to naturally separate at the points of highest tension in the tree. Continuous grain is especially important when creating spindles, as they need every bit of natural strength they can get due to their small diameter. So, I first split the logs in half with an axe, a mallet, and some wedges. I then continued to halve each piece until I had split more than twice the amount of over-sized spindle blanks I might need.”

– Abdollah Nafisi, excerpt from “Making the Sussex Chair” in Issue Nine, available here.


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