I had to take down a 24" shagbark hickory for a construction project and I now have two nice logs from the trunk. There is a sawmill nearby. I would like to save some wood for spokes and tool handles. Is there anything I should know before I proceed?
When I had my spokes made last year I was told by Mr. Stutzman that the spoke blanks had to be split to the approx size so that they are perfectly with the grain of the wood. He said that they shouldn't be sawn. That is all I know about the process.
Shagbark is sometimes lockey and there fore hard to split. It used to be that handle blanks were split out but not so these days, no one wants to go to the trouble. I saw my blanks taking into account the shrinkage then set them up to turn paying attention to the grain orientation, MHO. KGB
If the tree was in your yard, the sawmill probably won't cut it up for you, unless you agree to buy the blades if they hit something. Most sawmills won't touch a tree from a yard.
Most small sawmills have metal detectors to check logs with when running custom jobs. It saved a lot of bands for me when I was custom sawing.
One other way to make your spoke blanks is cut the log into lengths at least 6 inches longer than a finished spoke. Then use a "froe" and mallet to split off the bark. You could either let the finished "log blank" dry for at least a year, and then split off the spoke blanks, or split off the spoke blanks allowing plenty for shrinkage and final turning. When letting the blanks dry either as spoke or log size, I would paint the end grain of every stick or log blank, to help stop "end grain checking". If you plan on "air drying" the blanks, remember that it takes aprox one year per inch of thickness for air drying... Unless you have a very good tree, you can have as much as 50 percent waste. I made some spokes years ago using the "froe and split" method with real good results. But, I had 30 acres of real nice second growth hickory trees to work with. We had our own sawmill, and we burn wood for heat. So the waste did not bother me.
Good point about the drying. If you made the spokes now they would shrink up and you would be worse off then when you started.
Just a related thought:
I have no doubt that Mr. Stutzman's comment about splitting the wood to approximate size so the grain is best used produces the best results. However, I find it hard to believe that Henry (the other one) spent that much time (time is money) on the 720,000,000+ spokes produced for Model T's (not counting the models before T production).
Anyone have any information or thoughts on this?
I'll agree with Henry not splitting the Hickory, but I'll bet the blanks were aged for drying.
They were probably kiln dried to keep up with production.
1- The moisture as cut and turned really should be close to average air dried moisture content of 8%...shrinkage after machining is a killer if you don't...in order for the core to be at %, hickory logs should be stored under cover for perhaps 18 months.
2- Until proven otherwise, I'd strongly suspect that Ford had someway of being pretty straight on the grain when cut and had some additional understanding that buried knots could be no bigger than (say) 3/32" True 2nd growth was never encumbered in shadows (all trees had an even chance)and therefore came without twists and turns in the grain pattern to begin with.
3- The biggest issue I think is that to me, the spokes ALL appear to be quarter sawn, although an argument could be made that Plain Sawn select stock could probably be OK. If I had two big trunks and only wanted to stock up on spoke material, I'd actually try to get it rift sawn as the resulting cuts are always stronger than any other cut, although the actual yield would be lower.
4- Now for the 'oops factor' 2nd growth wood today has a definitive 'ring lines per inch of cross section' definition. They didn't worry about it 100 years ago when all saplings had an even chance. Isolated logging can vary greatly...and you should check but if I recall correctly, 14-22 grain lines per inch of cross section for hickory is the modern definition of 2nd growth for isolated logging. Too fat of whitewood, or too much ring wood, and the material never makes strength needs...
5- the interaction of dry time/moisture%/and type of 'sawn' is a 3 way interchange...plain sawn, even select will have a bad habit of going squirrely on you if everything is not 'rightfully ripe'. Rift sawing is the most forgiving.
Gee, I miss RDR...he could have fueled this topic for days with good stuff.........
Not saying much about the tree or it's being milled. As for the making of spokes, the 2 most important things are; 1. Get the angle of the tapered end EXACT. Even being 1/2 degree off will make you off 6 degrees total when you're done. 2. Don't get the spoke too short. That seems like a "no-brainer", and it may be but, it's not an easy thing to measure from the tapered end to the shoulder at the opposite end.
My spokes were made from sawed blanks of heartwood hickory. I doubt that Ford split 50 million or so spoke blanks each year from hickory log stock.
Are you sure hickory is the correct wood to use for spokes. Tee hee hee
I would think that a good splitting machine could split as fast as a saw or faster
I toured the Stutzman shop two years ago. During the tour with Noah Stutzman, I saw stacks of freshly split "billets" of hickory that were ready to be lathed into automobile wheel spokes.
The Stutzmans used an electric-powered pattern lath that turns 4 spokes simultaneously. Slick operation!
Jerry is right on with his warnings. One of the things you can do to check the angle of the spoke end is to lay 3 spokes down and put them together at their hub end so that all 3 spokes are touching fully together. Now place a simple miter square or other square across the 2 outer sides since each spokes hub end should be cut to exactly 30 degrees and thus 3 of them together should give you exactly 90 degrees. If the spokes are off then likely all of them in the batch will be off the same amount and you will see quickly if both legs of your square are fully flush and touching the outer surfaces of the spokes hub mating surfaces. If you get exactly 90 degrees with 3 of them together then they are accurate but by using 3 of them you have multiplied the error by 3 to make it more visible. Likewise if you are careful you can place 6 of them down surface to surface and the result should be a straight line across the 2 outermost hub surface ends. Length of spokes as Jerry stated is also critical to a tight hub and Ford actually had 2 different dimensions on the spoke length that differed before and after assemly with the spoke measuring slightly shorter distance once it was assembled and under pressure against the hub at one end and the felloe surface at the other.