Crafting a Tongue for a Horse-Drawn Mower

Advice on wood choice and fabrication methods for making old-fashioned wooden farm equipment components. December 31, 2012

What is the best wood for horse drawn farm implement tongues, or what was most commonly used in the southeast? I' m sawing some 12' long and wondered if a lighter wood like red cedar would work or if white oak or black locust would be better. Would you saw them off the sides or the middle?

Forum Responses
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
From Professor Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
Cedar is not strong. White oak is one species that would have been used. Contact your state museum or historical society for info on your area.

From the original questioner:
Thanks. Would it be best to saw them out of the heart of the log or the sides? They will be used green right off the mill so I need to saw them to avoid as much bowing and twisting as possible. They will be 4" wide at the butt tapering down to 2 1/2, and 3" thick. I'm thinking I'll saw several out of the heart wood and let some dry. Thanks for any input.

From Professor Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
The center has knots, so it is weaker. Saw parallel to the bark and make sure the grain is straight, or else split the log and saw parallel to the split as well.

From contributor S:
Hickory might be even better than oak if you can get it.

From contributor E:
A lot of them were made by splitting to ensure running with the grain and then using a spokeshave to shape them. Hickory is excellent.

From the original questioner:
Thanks for the information. I sawed 3 yesterday out of white oak. They turned out pretty good. We'll see how they work. I'm gonna try some hickory next.

From contributor j:
Some round here'll use ash, on cutters and such.

From contributor M:
I just helped my Amish neighbor rebuilding his manure spreader. We put on an oak tongue as you described. The old one had been on there over 30 years and was still functional. Oak is fine. Great that you're using horses. A lot more peaceful, and they replace themselves.