Crafting clogs

The original craftsmanship

The Craft:



Cleaving or splitting a log

Indicating the cleaving planesBefore the wooden shoe maker cleaves or splits a log, the log is measured again. This concerns the length and diameter of the log. Then the log is inspected for faults and possible changes of color that indicate that a branch has been cut or has been blown off, even if it happened years ago. Then he inspects the bark. When it looks coarse, this means that cleaving the wood is difficult. The necessary blocks are measured more largely, more broadly, in proportion to the coarseness of the bark. A block of wood as shown on photo 2, is not easy to split. In that case you can use the following strategy:

  • Assume that a log has a length of 33 cm and a diameter of 35 cm.
  • The perimeter equals 3.14 x 35 = 110 cm.
  • Every log of this length needs a thickness of 20 + 2 = 22 cm
    (2 cm extra to cover cleaving difficulties).
  • When there are no internal faults, then 5 usable blocks come out of this log (see also fig. 4).
Five usable
Cleaving or splitting a log is done using a cleaving hammer and two chisels (fig. 5).

Cleaving hammer and chisel
Two chisels are used because cleaving is often done in a certain angle (e.g. in the case on photo 3, where 5 blocks reside in a log). Wooden shoes that are being constructed from cleaved wood (instead of sawn wood), can be a little thinner, and therefore lighter. Despite the fact that their walls are thinner, they are even stronger because the thread of the wood is never crossed. The wood is also more flexible and elastic, this is exactly the reason why often handles of hammers and spades also are cleaved.

The log splits

Cleaving the log

Remark: The careful observer will notice that on photo 4, on the lower left side of the bark, a small distortion is visible. This distortion indicates that an inner knot is present. The wooden shoe maker will incorporate this knot in the floor of the wooden shoe and later on, during the "uptoeing" phase, this knot will then drop off completely.