The Froe

A froe looks cool! One can be made easily at home with a welder and a grinder but they usually sell cheap, since they have fewer uses than other pioneer tools. I always wanted one. Now I have two and they just set back in the corner. Really, unless you decide to make your own wood shakes or shingles (same thing), this tool is not very useful. You might be better off buying other tools that are needed for cabin construction and waiting patiently for a cheap one to come along.


How to Use a Froe

If you decide to use a shake froe for truly authentic roof shingles, you simply drive the blade into your wood and then twist the handle to force the split. Because of the leverage provided by the handle, it really does not take that much effort twisting.

In my area we do not have good wood for making shingles so I have only done it occassionally for the experience. I have tried oak, but it does not want to split easy at all. The wood that might work here is white oak. It is worth more as lumber, though. No matter what, you need wood with a very straight grain and no knots. The most common, of course, is cedar. Some people use redwoods too.

You can find great instructions on how to use this tool, make your own from a  leaf spring, and also info on figuring how many logs you need for your size roof in these two Mother Earth News articles:

The Froe and You - How to Make Hand Split Shakes 

The Esoteric Art of Splittings and Fittings

Shake Froe