A froe is the best way to split out green wood for chairmaking, shinglemaking, fencemaking, and pretty much any operation that calls for splitting. The tool is also known as a rending ax, split ax, cleaving iron, pole ax, riving ax, divider, etc - to give you an idea of its function. The basic operation is whacking the froe into the end of the wood, which causes the wood to start to split. Pulling towards or against yourself on the end of the handle, which gives tons of leverage, and twists the blade in the cut, will extend the split. Depending on which direction you pull the handle, you can control the direction of the split. Sometimes a few more whacks on the blade with a mallet can speed up the process.
Ray Iles says he started making froes himself because the old ones were hard to get and too many of the new ones didn't have the right taper on the froe. Ray's froes are correctly tapered from top to bottom, so you get the additional leverage when you drive the froe into the wood and more control when you split out the timber. The 9 1/2" long x 1 7/8" wide blade is a solid 3/8" at the top and tapers to 1/8" at the cutting edge where it is further ground to a double beveled knife edge. The handle, of air dried English beech, is 14 1/2" long and tapered so that it fits into a tapered socket on the end of the blade. This locks the blade in solid with no wedges or anything that would weaken the handle. The handle is finished in linseed oil for long wear and a good grip. This is a heavy tool designed for real work.
The small froe has a 5 1/2" blade. The handle is turned beech and (unlike its larger cousin) is attached to the eye of the blade with wedges.