Rites of Spring


            Here at The Windsor Institute a splitting party is a rite of spring.  Spring 2011 has officially arrived and been welcomed. In March I visited the local log concentration yard and picked out this year’s premium red oak veneer logs. In April, the logging truck arrived with our oak and neatly laid the logs side-by-side in our log yard.  This morning, Kevin Hurd, a farmer up the road, arrived with his tractor (dubbed Bessy) with a four foot log hydraulic splitter on the back. He also arrived with his 24 year-old step son Patrick.


            The guys who teach here — Don Harper, Donnie Chesser, and me — are getting a little long in the tooth, and it was nice to have a vigorous young buck on hand to wrestle the oak bolts onto the splitter. It didn’t hurt that the young buck was friendly and well spoken. Thus, Patrick is a welcome addition.


            It only took several hours to reduce the logs to splits, all neatly stuck and awaiting the next step in processing them into chair backs. By noon, we were done with Bessy and sent her back to the farm, and we had raked and cleaned the log area. Only the smell of the freshly spilt stacks of oak and the carpet of fresh chain saw chips indicated anything significant had occurred.


            The only disappointment of the day was the second log. Two of its four foot bolts opened to reveal knarley wood, completely worthless for making chairs. When Kevin returned after lunch, we loaded the pieces into his pick up. He heats his house with an exterior wood furnace. Kevin chuckled to think that he would be warming his home with a $250 log. Being a frugal old Yankee, I gritted my teeth.


            Tomorrow, we begin the long process of cutting the splits into chair stock. We do this on our

Hitachi resaw with a two-inch wide blade, its aggressive teeth tipped with stellite. From there, the stock will either go into the freezer, or be put up to dry. I expect there is enough wood stacked outside the shop to provide for this year’s classes and for this year’s sales. I wouldn’t be too surprised if the first class of 2012 uses the wood we began processing today. There is that much of it.       * * * *

            As of this writing, I have four spots open for the sack back class in 2011 – two July 25 and two October 3.


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