Riving a Cherry Crook

Some cherry branches with nice crooks fell during some recent windstorms. I snapped a few photos while splitting them into spoon blanks to show how I typically go about it. They can be split with an axe or wedge, but I like the leverage that a froe provides. Above, I’ve driven in the froe along a line that approximately divides the branch into two equal halves, usually right at the pith.

Sometimes a crook will pop apart like a piece of straight timber, but they’re usually more resistant. To get some good leverage, I position the crook concave-side-down on the ground or floor, along with the engaged froe.

Then I step across both the crook and the angle of the froe with my left foot. The floor and my foot combine to form a sort-of riving brake.

While pushing down with my left foot, I lift the handle of the froe. The froe blade rotates and begins to pry open the crook.

As the froe handle swings further up, the split opens up wider and further, following the fibers. You can shave the bark off of the sides before beginning the split to see things better, but I rarely bother.

If the crook still needs more persuasion, I can slide the blade of the froe further down and repeat the procedure. In the photo above, this has been done. The most stubborn fibers tend to be right around the bend itself; there they are just ahead of the froe, keeping the two halves from separating completely.

Often I know which end of the crook will be the handle of the spoon, and which the bowl, before splitting. In this case, I wanted to see how it split first, so I left the piece long enough for a handle to both sides of the bend. I decided to use the left bit for the handle, and I cut off the right side around the red line. As with most crooks, the upper side, on the outside of the bend, includes a broken branch-end within (which resulted in the tree following a side branch for growth), and isn’t typically useable for a spoon.

I sever the connecting fibers with some light axe strokes.

Often, I can get two spoon blanks from the crook half by splitting it again. I divide the surface area of the end grain approximately in half with the froe, parallel to the original split. I drive the froe in with a sharp blow of the club, then I can usually just pop it open while it’s upright.

Here are the two serving spoons roughed out of those two blanks, situated as they were in the crook. I axe them out and do some basic knife work while they’re green, taking them to this stage. I’ll come back to them after a day or two (or after a month or two) to do the final carving.

Here’s another cherry crook from the same windstorm, a real beauty. I split this one in the same way.

And there’s the ladle it provided. I’ll finish carving this one and some others in between house projects. Lots happening now at the point of transition.

This entry was posted in cherry, finding wood, spoons, tools, Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Riving a Cherry Crook

  1. rlmlsimmons says:

    Splendid post full of eye candy!



    div>Bob Simmons

    Sent from my iPad


    div dir=”ltr”>


    blockquote type=”cite”>

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Royce says:

    Really cool idea. I fail so often in seeing the inherent flow of wood. I make things flat and exact, really should spend more time sculpting. Reminds me of Mr. Miagi and the Bonsai Tree.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. francedozois says:

    nicely done, clear and easy to follow.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Richard Lees says:

    So good to see the froe being used. It is a tool I have found takes a bit of mastering and I struggle at times. Good to see a crook being used for spoons.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Skip Florey says:

    Nice series of photos! I like the design of the 2 serving spoons. The verticle section above the bowl that transitions to horizontal is pleasing to the eye and functional.


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