Shake splitters – Jack Brake (left) and Dave Sparling taught a number of folks the art of cedar shake splitting Saturday and also did a fair share of the work at the Steilacoom Historical Museum Tool Shop. Another three cords of shakes will be needed to re-roof the building so additional work parties are planned during which anyone is invited to try his hand at splitting a shake.
Using historic tools from the Steilacoom Historical Museum, about 40 town residents helped split cedar shakes for a new roof on the museum tool shop. Under the direction of Jack and Buzz Brake, about a fourth of the needed shakes have now been hand-split.
Splitting froes that belonged to pioneer Steilacoom resident Nathaniel Orr were put to use Saturday during this unique and educationally-focused event, Brake explained.
To split a shake from a piece of solid cedar, a froe is placed on the edge of the log and then pounded into the wood. Once into the log it is then maneuvered to split the shake loose. The procedure is then repeated time and again, turned the log top to bottom each time in order to maintain the balance on the log as the shakes are split from about a half inch at the top to less then a quarter at the bottom.