Spelk. noun. Scottish and Northern English (esp. Geordie or Newcastle) dialect: ‘a splinter of wood’. Also, ‘a small stick or rod used as a spike in thatching’. Also, ‘to bruise or split something’.
Verb. spelked, spelking: (of wood): to splinter while being cross cut; damage suffered at the end of a cut where the unsupported wood breaks away. In the US this would be termed ‘blow out’, or ‘break out’.
Derivation. from the Old English spelc, or spilc, meaning ‘a little rod by which things are kept straight’, ‘a splint for binding up broken bones’. Connects to Old Norse spelkur, meaning ‘splints’. The word exists in Dutch today, and digging into a Dutch dictionary, one finds that spelk, spelc, and spalk all derive from the word ‘to split’ (i.e., cleave a piece of wood).
A variant pronunciation and spelling of spelc is spelch, typical of a dialect used in the London area, according to one source. Thus, spelched, spelching.
This picture shows a stick of cross cut fir evidencing a fair amount of spelching:
Image from Popular Woodworking’s website.
Spelching can be avoided by cutting from the outside face in where possible, or clamping a sacrificial block on the exit zone of the cut, or placing the workpiece tightly against a sacrificial block at the cut end (as in a shooting board fence, or sacrificial fence on a chopsaw, or zero-clearance insert on a table saw, etc.), or trimming a bevel on the far end of the cut (when shooting the end grain with a plane).
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