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Powder Wedge

Discussion in 'Milling & Saw Mills' started by TNMIKE, Apr 18, 2008.

  1. TNMIKE

    TNMIKE ArboristSite Operative

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    Im burning up the forum today I know..mainly because its all I can do with this damn flu/pneumonia

    Im just wondering how many of you have used a powder wedge. Im talking about the kind used to split long logs or knotty wood using black powder. I couldnt find any here locally and I know they havent been made in years so I started making them on the lathe here in the shop. Ive been experimenting with different designs. They were common in eastern NC during the tobacco heyday for getting wood up for tobacco barn firing. Machine shops in rural areas kept them on hand. That was long before chainsaws.

    They can be very handy. Its hard to use them in an urban setting because of the tremendous report but they will split wood you cant otherwise.

    Ive attached some pis of the ones Ive made.
     
  2. olyman

    olyman Tree Freak

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    you see the real ones on ebay from time to time----
     
  3. woodshop

    woodshop Addicted to ArboristSite

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    I'd love to see one in action.
     
  4. Matildasmate

    Matildasmate ArboristSite Operative

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    Hi Mike ..... I am guessing this idea was used for splitting long logs and oversize logs , is this anywhere near the mark? Cheers MM
     
  5. TNMIKE

    TNMIKE ArboristSite Operative

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    Exactly right matilda

    The cone shaped one is a copy of one that was used on a farm in eastern NC in the late 30s. The wedge shaped one is based upon some commercial ones Ive seen in pictures.

    I know that the one in NC was used to split long logs which were then bucked into firewood for tobacco barns. They will split a pine log 20 feet long no problem. They say necessity is the mother of invention and in this case you got smart if you were bucking logs with a one man crosscut saw.

    I have also used them on stumps that just couldnt be split by normal methods.

    The cone shaped one is 13 inches long and 2 1/4 " in diameter. Its bored 5/8 inch ten inches deep. The 1/8 inch fuse hole is bored one inch in front of the bore end. To use the wegde install the fuse , charge it with black powder and pack it in place with toilet tissue. A hole is bored into the log or stump section and the wedge is driven into place with a sledge. I use a stump section just behind the wedge to keep it from being blown too far away. You light it and run like hell. hahah

    It works.
     
  6. MikeInParadise

    MikeInParadise AboristSite Guru

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  7. TNMIKE

    TNMIKE ArboristSite Operative

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    I had never thought to look on You Tube

    I have also heard (but never tried) that you can plunge cut a chain bar into the middle of a log, pour in black powder, insert an appropriate length of fuse and drive a long wooden wedge to hold the pressure.

    Apparently this is what is done in this video

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DIhJnqyey8U&feature=related

    I know the powder wedges like I make work so that is what i have always used.
     
  8. TNMIKE

    TNMIKE ArboristSite Operative

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    Here is a link shoiwing what I was talking about

    Damn, Its amazing what is on You Tube.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3SUuUzAieig&feature=related

    I just never thought to look on there. A steel wedge is more controllabe in my opinion. And easier. It will split a soft wood log like you cleaved it with a huge axe. Hardwoods like dry locust. Watch out. I was with a buddy. the one who has the original wedge I copied at a friend of his farm. This guy had some six foot long locust butts that had been laying out in the sun for years. He wanted them for firewood and couldnt do anything with them. He bet they couldnt be split. The first shot blew the locust into pieces the smallest of which was about the size of a nail keg. It flew over his barn into the pasture. My budddy looked at me and said I think you used a little bit too much powder there butch.

    Be carefull with this if you do it.
     
  9. TNMIKE

    TNMIKE ArboristSite Operative

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  10. Haywire Haywood

    Haywire Haywood Fiscal Conservative Social Retard

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    A better way of setting it off would be to use igniters for model rockets. That way there's no lighting the fuse and running. You'd just put the igniter in like it was a fuse and unroll the wire to your safe position and push the button on the battery box.

    Ian
     
  11. TNMIKE

    TNMIKE ArboristSite Operative

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    Cannon fuse

    That would work too but if you use two feet of cannon fuse you are fine. It burns at a dependable rate. The guys in the last video apparently liked living on the edge.
     
  12. Matildasmate

    Matildasmate ArboristSite Operative

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    Sounds like fun mate! Cheers MM
     
  13. bullseye13

    bullseye13 AboristSite Guru

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    I like this method. I have used this method to light fireworks so i can do it from my chair watching. It takes the guesswork out of when it blows up.
     
  14. sawyerDave

    sawyerDave ArboristSite Operative

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    Coupla comments

    First, I have a powder wedge that looks like the second(Round one). It is made of steel, and has about a 1 inch bore to it, holds a good bit of powder, you hammer it into the center (pith) , light it off and run. As far as I know, it was used exclusively for busting up tough firewood from large logs. One improvement that it has over yours is that it has an outside profile that makes it look like a hose barb fitting. When you hammer it into a log it mostly stays in the log. It also has a lanyard hole drilled through the side, for attaching a small diameter wire rope, the purpose of which is wedge recovery, after the blast. Wedge will only fly till the cable runs out! Second, Those guys who are blowing the logs into splinters are using too much powder! A half a cup will split a lot of wood, and if you are trying to make lumber with the log, all you need to do is crack it real good, then open it up with wedges or pry bars.:blob4: :blob4:
     
  15. TNMIKE

    TNMIKE ArboristSite Operative

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    Can you get us a picture

    You probably cant tell it from my picture but the cone shaped portion was turned pretty rough. There are ridges along the taper that hold it in place. In place of the lanyard I just put a stump piece behind it to control the rear movement. Never had a problem.

    Where did you get your wedge? Just curious
     
  16. sawyerDave

    sawyerDave ArboristSite Operative

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    I got it from a neighbor, a friend of my parents and grandparents. They were carpenters and woodworkers, knew of my interest in woodworking, kinda a pre estate yardsale lookthrough, if you know what I mean!
     
  17. trr

    trr New Member

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    pURCHASE

    DO you known where a new one of these can be purchased ?


     
  18. BlueRider

    BlueRider AboristSite Guru

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    This sounds like it would be popular with the same crowd that fishes with dynamite. Don't get me wrong I understand the utility of the idea but you do have to admit it does have a bit of a hold-my-beer-and-watch-this sort of quality to it.
     
  19. 820wards

    820wards Addicted to ArboristSite

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    They call them Dupont spinners... :msp_biggrin:


    jerry-
     
  20. TNMIKE

    TNMIKE ArboristSite Operative

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    The wedges were commercially made years ago and I see them on ebay from time to time. Barring that a machine shop or man with a lathe can maked one easily. They are handy to have in certain situations.
     

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