Riving Brake – Part 2


Once the wood and pipe nipples were back at the shop, I cut two 36” lengths of 2×10 and started laying out for the holes.  For this purpose, I referred to Peter Galbert’s wonderful layout photo from his blog article.  Upon completing the layout, it occurred that Peter had used a 2×12 instead of a 2×10, which would yield more strength for the sides.  Oh well, I’d just have to improvise.

Riving Brake 1

I had planned on boring the holes for the pipe nipples with brace and bit, but discovered that the nipples were just slightly larger than my 1” auger, and the next size up was 1½”.  Rats.  This meant that I’d have to kill a few electrons instead.  I chucked a 1⅛” forstner bit in the big old Skil 6635 drill and bored away.  Yes, I know this can be tricky, as the bit can catch in the hole.  Fortunately, this bit had a toothed rim, and the Skil has great torque at low rpm.  I went light on the pressure, took my time, and made it through the four holes in the first piece with no problems.  Rather than measuring and marking the second piece, I clamped the first to it, and used the same bit through the hole to mark the second piece – much less chance for error.  These four holes were also uneventful.

Riving Brake 2

Once the holes were bored, I marked the slant cut for the sides.  I decided to alter the shape somewhat to compensate for my smaller piece of wood by increasing the amount of wood over the holes.  This would, I hoped, reduce the risk of splitting from the force of levering against the pipe.  A quick pair of cuts with a ripsaw and the sides were ready to go.  If you compare the picture below with Peter’s layout, you can see how I changed things somewhat.  By moving the intersection of the cut with the top forward somewhat, I was able to increase the amount of wood over the holes while still giving clearance.

Riving Brake 3

After reading Peter’s comment about reinforcing weak areas of the brake with plywood to reduce splitting, and due to the fact that my pipe sections were all the same size, I had decided on a slightly different construction approach.  I planned to sheath the entire surface of the brake in plywood, trapping the pipe nipples inside in the process.  I cut the back piece to the correct width to give 12” between the outsides of the two side pieces, as well as a temporary front piece which will be removed.  These made for a nice boxlike shape.

Riving Brake 4

Fortunately I had plenty of slightly bowed plywood rejected from more demanding projects, and one piece was perfect for a bottom just as it was.  Wow!  I don’t get that lucky very often.  I screwed this piece in place, keeping Peter’s overall orientation and remembering not to screw down the front spacer.  Once this was finished the spacer, which had kept everything in a square configuration until the bottom could be affixed, was removed.

Riving Brake 5

Two more pieces of plywood were shaped to completely cover both sides, and then I glued and screwed the first of these in place.  This effectively capped the holes on one side, and allowed me to slide the pipe into place.

Peter had used random lengths of pipe for his break, presumably what was available, which required through holes so they could free-float.  Since I was starting with uniform pieces of nipple, I could close the holes on both sides with plywood to retain the pipe without resorting to caps or anything else to keep it in place.  This had the added benefit of providing superb strength against splitting to the sides, a definite plus considering that my sides were a bit shorter than Peter’s.

Riving Brake 6

With the nipples in place, the second plywood side was glued and screwed in place, effectively locking everything together.  As a last touch, I added a plywood back to cap everything off.  I don’t think it was really needed but, since I had some leftovers, I figured, “why not?”  Besides, its absence offended my sense of symmetry.

Riving Brake 7

Here we have the finished brake.  I’m sure it’s a bit heavier than Peter’s, but so far it has functioned flawlessly.  I may come back later and add Peter’s leverage bar and strap, but so far haven’t had a need for them.  I’ll add a little boiled linseed oil to protect it, and then put it to work.

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4 responses to “Riving Brake – Part 2

  1. G’Digger,

    What exctually is this for? It looks good and heavy construction to stand up for what it’s used for lol

    Handi

    • The riving brake holds one end of a split piece of wood immobile while a froe, driven into the other end, is levered sideways to split (rive) the wood along the grain. Without some form of brake, the far end of the billet wants rotate in response to the sideways levering of the froe, negating any sort of splitting force. This is a real problem with larger pieces, or when you want to accurately control the riving of the wood.

  2. Burton S Johnson

    Thanks to your article I am now the owner of a very nice riving brake!

  3. Mr. Pridgen,
    I am now the owner of a riving brake by following your design ideas some what. Am looking forward to using it for years for it is very stoutly built from lumber I cut myself using an Alaskan mill.

    Gladly send photos and deeper description upon reply.
    Greg

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