[image via Peter Follansbee]
[image via Lost Art Press]
Did you ever wonder how craftspeople used to split thick wood into boards, prior to the invention of bandsaws and sawmills? They performed riving using something called a froe, and good God does it look tedious:
As you can see, the froe had to be banged downwards with a mallet or maul made of wood, for obvious reasons. (Ideally you'd want to make the mallet out of a tougher wood like maple; this guy makes them out of baseball bat blanks that have been deemed too heavy for the sport's regulations.) Using a froe and mallet was used to create things like shingles, panels, chair backs as you just saw in the video, and anytime you had a thick board you needed to divide into multiple thin boards.
While it no longer has any commercial application, there are still hardcore dudes rocking this technique, both in the field and in the shop. Be thankful next time you're resawing boards on a bandsaw...