Robin Wood has recently been cleaving a very large oak log which he is making into fence posts and rails. His current major project is building a footpath bridge in Bradfield, not far from where we live, and the fence will form the approach to the bridge.
The oak was felled in Sheffield's Eccleshall Woods for someone else's building project but it soon became clear that there were a lot of hidden nails in it; after excavating 6 or more they decided it was too likely to damage the sawmill. It seemed a shame to Robin that such a beautiful piece of wood might go to waste, so he decided to try working it with hand tools.
The cleaving process was started using metal wedges, then long, thin dry oak wedges which Robin carved himself, each pounded in with a large sledgehammer. Once in half, the two pieces (12' long and weighing about half a ton each) were split down and down, each time going into half so the split would run straight.
Robin's comment afterwards was that it was a very hard days work, but a joy to be able to make good use of such gorgeous material where power tools had failed!
Finally, a picture of the site showing where the first fence posts are going in. Robin has been hewing the surfaces with his Japanese carpenters ono (axe) and finds it a joy to do this work. There cannot be many examples of Japanese style hewing in the UK, though probably no one will ever notice.