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Froes are tools that are used for splitting sections of wood along the grain. The device is used in conjunction with a mallet to puncture the wood in the direction of the grain. Once the froe is inserted, the handle can be twisted to break the wood into two sections with relative ease.
In appearance, the froe has a shape that is more or less resembles an “L.” The body of the device is often rounded, with the end coming to a flattened tip. At the top of the body is a handle that can be used to position the froe tool, and hold the device in place while the mallet is used to drive in the flat tip. The shape of the handle also helps to maximize the force with which the body can be twisted, making the task of splitting sections of wood much easier.
There are a couple of settings in which the froe is commonly employed. Mills that routinely produced wooden planks make use of a wood froe to split longs in half. This makes it possible to ensure the planks are made by cutting with the grain, rather than against it. Also, the splitting action makes it possible to inspect the general condition of the log and assign the wood section the proper grade.
Homeowners sometimes use this tool to deal with trees or even larger limbs that have been cut down. Splitting the wood can make it easier to clear the debris from the property, since the smaller pieces are easier to move than attempting to move one large section. Because the froe makes it possible to initiate the split exactly where it is needed, the accuracy of the device is somewhat better than the maul, another device often used to split wood.
Great care must be taken when working with a splitting froe. The handle must be held firmly to prevent any slippage as the mallet is used to drive the body into the wood. This is particularly true if there are knots in the section of wood, as they are often more difficult to break through than the rest of the wood body. Failure to hold the froe firmly when driving it into the wood can result in serious personal injury, including the loss of a hand or arm. Many people who work regularly with this tool will also wear some sort of protection for the eyes and the hands when splitting sections of wood.
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