Froe

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Adam the Archer
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Froe

Post by Adam the Archer »

Hi
Does anyone know how far back 'froes' go for splitting wood?

Cheers

Adam

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Merlon.
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Re: Froe

Post by Merlon. »

Thomas Tusser mentions them in 'Five hundred points of Good Husbandry' 1573

m. demetrius
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Re: Froe

Post by m. demetrius »

There are finds of froe-like wood splitters from Roman times. The sizes, metals, and angles change, but the needed function still leads to the same form, right?

If you think about it, a froe is basically a long, thin-bladed axe, or a modified blade used for another purpose.
Saepe veritas est dura.
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Gobae
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Re: Froe

Post by Gobae »

I'd have to dig through my books, but I'm near 100% certain I've seen froe blades cataloged at the Navan (Ireland) dig circa 100BCE-300CE as well as at the Manching Oppidum dig in Bavaria (circa 400BCE-100BCE)

That said, even if an area has no direct evidence for a froe (or other woodworking tool), many times they can be inferred because of residual tool marks left on the finished product. This is the case for Iron Age pole lathes; we know they had them because of the tool marks left on spindles cups, etc, but one has never been found.

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Brother Ranulf
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Re: Froe

Post by Brother Ranulf »

My Edwardian bill-hook from Somerset has a fairly wide back to the blade (up to about a quarter of an inch) with distinct and overlapping hammer-marks along its length - it looks like the thing as used as a froe at some point and I guess it would serve very well for that purpose,the only difference being that the wooden handle would be horizontal rather than vertical.
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Billhook
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Re: Froe

Post by Billhook »

The froe was widely used for splitting large diameter wood for shingles used in roofing, the strakes for clinker planking in boatbuilding and the staves used by coopers - pre the era of long saws (e.g. pit saws) where a thin 'plank' of wood was required, or where the strength obtained by following the grain was needed, some type of splitting tool was needed - I guess where you find these one types of construction you may find the tools being used... including froes...

Smaller wood was often split with the hooked end of a billhook, a method still used by hurdle makers and thatching spar makers today - more commonly used on small green wood than a froe, and probably equally widely used for splitting the gads used to make wattle (as used in wall construction of many types of building from Iron Age to 20th century).

Marks on the back of a billhook are usually the result of misuse - hitting with a hammer to get through a knot - no self respecting craftsman would do so (or need to in most cases - if extra force was required a wooden beetle or mallet would be used....) - hammer marks most frequently indicate 19th/20th century use by someone who didn't know how to use a billhook...

Friesian
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Re: Froe

Post by Friesian »

Billhook wrote: hammer marks most frequently indicate 19th/20th century use by someone who didn't know how to use a billhook...
That'll be me then :rock:

m. demetrius
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Re: Froe

Post by m. demetrius »

Does anyone know how far back 'froes' go
Ahem. All the way to the handle, of course.
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