Ever heard of a powder wedge?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Silvercreek Farmer, May 25, 2006.

  1. Silvercreek Farmer

    Silvercreek Farmer Living the dream. Supporter

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    When I was in school, one of the old mountain men spoke of a wedge that you pounded into stubborn pieces of wood, then filled with blackpowder and detonated, he said it would split anything. I have never seen one for sale, nor heard anyone else speak of them, any thoughts?
     
  2. FreightTrain

    FreightTrain Well-Known Member

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    try a google search for powder wedge.... i found lots of good info

    http://www.woodweb.com/knowledge_base/Splitting_big_logs.html

    one story i stumbled across:
    He said one time there was a woodcutting bee for the Maple Corner School. They felled a huge maple that proved disagreeable right from the start. The auger handle broke before they completed drilling but they pounded the wedge in as far as it would go and packed it with black powder. Stanley said when they touched it off the wedge, not being fully anchored, followed the path of least resistance.

    "It was a war zone out there," he said. "We all dropped down behind the biggest trees we could find. That powder wedge zinged all around us--sounded like a rocket. It finally echoed off into the hills. We never did find it."
     

  3. danb98577

    danb98577 Well-Known Member

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    My guess is they all died of shrapnel wounds, etc....
     
  4. hunter63

    hunter63 Well-Known Member

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  5. hunter63

    hunter63 Well-Known Member

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  6. UncleTom

    UncleTom Well-Known Member

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    My dad always talked about using one when they were kids. They split all there fire wood with what he called a blasting wedge. They used the wood for heating and cooking. Then one day they were using it and lost it in a snow bank and never did find it.
     
  7. seedspreader

    seedspreader AFKA ZealYouthGuy

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  8. ace admirer

    ace admirer Well-Known Member Supporter

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    yeah, basically a 14 inch long bar of 2 inch diameter steel. about a 7/8 hole drilled 3 inches into one end. the same end tapered about the same distance to make a cutting edge and wedge shape at the drilled end. a fuse hole is drilled through the side near the end of the drilled hole.


    the wedge is loaded with course black powder, driven into the end of the log to be split with low velocity blows with a 20 lb sledge. (reminds me of the buggs bunny cartoon, testing the artillery shells with a hammer). another llarge log or stump is scotched against the free end of the wedge (to help hold it in place during the fireing). lastly a length of fuse is installed into the fuse hole. light off and run like hewl. the expanding gas from the powder burn forces itself down the grain of the wood and splits it just as lightning boiling the sap in a tree into steam splits it.

    we used to rebuild the local farmers wedges in my shop....i have a few stories but will not bore you with them.
     
  9. MELOC

    MELOC Master Of My Domain

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    wouldn't drilling a hole and packing it with black powder have some effect?
     
  10. Country Doc

    Country Doc Well-Known Member

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    I' ve seen them on e bay and there was a discussion on woodweb.com in the sawing and drying forum. I maybe can see taking the risk if there was a couple of pounds of gold in there but not for splitting wood. This is for huge diameter longs to split them to an easier to handle size.

    Really a very bad , dangerous idea with little reward and high risk.
     
  11. ace admirer

    ace admirer Well-Known Member Supporter

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    well,,yeah, they were used back a few decades ago,,,when men were men. every country store had black and blasting powder, some had 1 1/4 inch sticks of low velocity dupoint or hurk. explosives were used to blow stumps out of the ground. dranage ditches were "dug" using hurk trenching charges, tractors didn't have fenders, machinery didn't have guards, seven year old boys plowded with double team horses, you grew your food, yeah things have changed alot....we use mosly nitrate/fuel for blasting now. less headackes...from the nitro that is.
     
  12. ladycat

    ladycat Chicken Mafioso Staff Member

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    Gee and I thought my brothers and I were crazy the time we threw bullets into a fire to hear them go BANG.
     
  13. dkwhite

    dkwhite Member

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    The force would all go back out the hole for the most part. I don't think it would work.

    We used powder wedges on a regular basis while I was growing up. Our's were just about what Ace Admirer described earlier. A little bit of powder, a wad of TP, and a fuse. Tap it in to the best breakin' spot, lean another piece behind it, light the fuse and take cover. I can remember many times thinking I was far enough back only to take a last minute dive out of the way of a flying chunk. Probably not the safest way to split stubborn wood, but it was effective.