splitting spruce. Froe shape matter?

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Forum topic by fazhou posted 09-13-2017 09:02 PM 613 views 0 times favorited 2 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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17 posts in 2202 days

09-13-2017 09:02 PM

Hello all,
I had ( repeat, had) a stash of Sitka guitar brace blanks that I recently tried to split. It didn’t go very well. Brace stock is supposed to have little to no runout. I think the general practice is to split a bolt of spruce and then saw from the split face so the stock is not all split but cut from one split reference. I wanted to split the stock into violin bass bars and because of the shape of them it was much more important to me that there was truly no runout. So, after everything was said and done I got very little usable stock. In theory it should’ve been mostly usable stock. The froe that I used was made by me from an old file. I used a machinists surface grinder to grind the bevels. The bevel length is not equal. Attached is a crude drawing. So my question is… does that shape of the froe affect the split or will the wood split along the grain no matter what? Thanks for your time

2 replies so far

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 4258 days

#1 posted 09-13-2017 09:30 PM

I’ve done it a couple of times for guitar
braces. If memory serves the blanks were
about 1” thick by 7” wide. I had success
splitting off rough bar blanks using a wood
chisel. If the wood doesn’t want to split
from one side flip it over and try from the
other. If the grain is straight the split bars
will be consistent enough they can be
brought to finished thickness with a hand
plane easily.

Sounds like you got a bad batch.

I did put my chisel right on the annular ring
line. If you didn’t do that it may have caused
problems. Unless you’re lucky to get a blank
with the rings perpendicular, sawing from
a split face will be a little awkward, though in
a factory setting it wouldn’t surprise me if
that’s what they do to save time.

View jdh122's profile


1121 posts in 3427 days

#2 posted 09-13-2017 09:37 PM

I would think that you want the bevels to be equal. But no matter what the shape of the froe, it’s not the case that the wood will split along the grain no matter what. The froe exists in order to steer a split using leverage (it’s a steering, not a splitting tool, really) exactly because wood rarely splits exactly along the grain. You probably already know this, but you need to make sure that you split in half each time or the split will run out very quickly. Even if you split in half it will usually start to run out in one direction or the other, which is when you use the leverage of the froe to steer the split.

-- Jeremy, in the Acadian forests

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