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Discussion Starter #1
Hey guys I have been putting some effort into splitting feathers. I have a bunch of heron and Coque that I want to split so I can get 2 uses out of each feather instead of having to strip one side off and wasting half the feather. I have looked on youtube and have seen a few different methods for doing it but I have tried a few ways and been unsuccessful.
If anyone has a foolproof method I would love to hear it.
Thanks :)
 

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Just shooting in the dark here, but you might try using "peeling" instead of splitting for your searches? I know that you peel rhea plumes for tying. It involves soaking the feather for a short period of time. Takes some practise, but results can be pretty good. Got to admit that I have a fair amount of heron and it would be pretty tough to split or peel as the quill is just too fine (in my opinion).
I think jay feathers are also "peeled". Those are smaller, but still thicker then heron. Same with goose.
Anyway, hope you work out a way to deal with your problem. For now, I'll probably continue to treat heron like I always do and discard one side if need be.
 

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I don't see it working with heron but your best bet with the coque is doing like goose... Flatten stem with pliers and then use a sharp razor to slice it, most times I do it there is no way I'd be able to use both Sides of the feather so unless you have some amazingly steady hands I'd probably just strip...
 

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Splitting- put the feather in a hard surface, then take something with a hard, rounded handle (screwdriver or similar), and using the inverted handle, mash the stem, working from the base out towards the tip. Light pressure to begin, then increase the pressure until stem is crushed. At that point take a sharp, thin blade (x-acto or wall board knife), and and separate the two halves. It will take only a little cutting, as the mashing does most of the job.

I prefer stripping on feathers when it will work. Put a big dollop of hair conditioner in a bowl of water. Swirl the feathers in and let soak overnight. Sometime the next day, grasp tip of feather in one hand, pinch half a dozen barbules on one side, right below the tip barbules, and pull evenly directly opposite the tip, straight along the shaft. Sometimes breaks, but you can restart. When you get one side, repeat on opposite. If the stem breaks consistently, let it soak several more hours.

With either approach, soak the feather for 15 - 20 minutes before tying it it. The increased flexibility will help keep the stem from breaking as you begin wrapping.
 

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I don't know about Heron, but all the coque I have seems too thin to split. I go back and forth b/t stripping one side for a spare fly, and using both sides for a fuller one. Same with blue eared pheasant.
 

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A rolling pin or wood dowel on the stem works great for some feathers also. That is how I was taught to split RN tails for The Intruder at first. Have you tried holding the feather by the stem in a vise? Starting from the tip - some feather will split right down the middle with plenty of stem on each half that both can still be palmered. Swan and goose are good for this because they are readily available and it wouldn't hurt too much splitting a prime hackle like heron. I would imagine.
 

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Matt Arciaga
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this works well for me

Its drawn in Kelsons book but credited to MJT method
Test this out on some throw away piece and see how you like. Dont do this on heron...
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thank you all for the great advice I will test them all and get back to you with what has worked out best for me.
 

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Splitting Quills

A fellow member (FlyTyer) published a good set of instructions regarding quill splitting. I have attached his instructions with a few modifications.

Splitting Burnt Goose

1. Cut the butts off the dry feathers and break the stems at the tip, but do not separate.
2. Soak the feather in water that has a drop of ordinary hair conditioner added to it. Soak for at least an hour or so.
3. Hold each side of the feather at the point where it splits and simply pull it apart by pulling down on each side. The thumbs and forefingers must be at the tear point to avoid ripping off the barbules.
4. You will then have a split feather that only needs to have the pith scraped from the lower half of the stem of each side of the feather.

Tying Hint
when tying the feather onto the hook, I crowd the eye with the quill. This places all of the thick stem in a ball next to the eye. Wrap at least two or three tight turns of thread around the barbules on the left side of the ball (for a RH tyer). Now, using a razor blade at right angles to the hook's axis, cut all around the hook on the left side of the quill ball. Be careful when cutting next to the wraps holding the barbules. I cut to the steel. Unwind the cut quill stem and discard. You should now have the foundation for a neat small head or wing platform. This procedure is explained in Ron Alcott's book Building Classic Salmon Flies. It takes a little practice, but the results are worth the effort. If you leave the quill stem on the hook, the head can get quite large. Also, dyed feathers have a stem with an unsightly white line after being split. This could be the pith or the original color before being dyed.

Doug
 

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Splitting Quills

I should have included in my previous post that my suggestion for cutting out the stem bulk was intended for 'Spey Versions' of common atlantic salmon flies. These flies include Undertakers, Black Bear-Green Butt and Blue Charms with long wispy hackles flowing beyond the hook bend.

The method is not applicable to the body hackles used on traditional spey flies, such as the Lady Caroline. The traditional method of winding a hackle from the mid body to the head does not allow any removal of bulk from the stem. If the white line in the split stem bothers you, the feather may have to be dyed after splitting. Maybe a permanent marker could be used.

Doug
 

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I was going to tell you to use the site's search function for my instructions on how to split a feather stem, but since Mr. Anderson already pasted it in to your thread, there isn't any need for me to do so. Splitting feathers is really quite easy if you soak the feathers in a solution of hair conditioner and water for at least an hour first. And when you scrape the pith from the quill after splitting, you don't need to worry about it splitting when tied and wrapped.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
i tried the method of pulling apart at the stem with the base anchored in the vise, I got half the feather done then it cracked but I forgot to soak it first :eek:
Thanks for all the great advise everyone!
 
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