Alder Froe

An ancient tool used for splitting cedar into planks and shakes, made from a reclaimed leaf spring and alder driftwood.

Island Blacksmith: Hand forged tools

A froe is a splitting tool for making cedar bolts into shakes or even planks. It is held cutting edge down against the top of the block and struck with a wooden mallet into the end grain. Once started, the handle is levered to the side and the shake splits off.

In the past, due to the simplicity of the design and function, most froes were homemade and were not necessarily even high carbon steel. Before steel was readily available, Natives of the west coast had mastered the skill of splitting cedar with stones and wooden wedges to produce huge planks and beams without using saws.

This is one of the first projects I started in the new workshop so it was time to finish it off. Thanks to RD for some tag team hammering to speed up the tapering. The high carbon steel blade is a reclaimed automotive leaf spring and the handle is a piece of alder driftwood. The blade is about 9.5″ long and the handle is about 13″.

Material: Reclaimed leaf spring steel, alder driftwood

Island Blacksmith: Hand forged tools

Island Blacksmith: Hand forged tools