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Design for Splitting Wedges?


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#1 Candidquality

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Posted 11 January 2007 - 11:14 AM

A buddy of mine asked me for some splitting wedges for his woodpile, and I started looking around. The first place that I saw had these Traditional Woodworker - Splitting Wedge by Gransfors Bruk and it got me to thinking. Anyone here have any interesting ideas that you use for spitting wedges? Or do you just run down to the local china import shop and get some for $6 each? These are noted to be hand forged in sweden and sell for $50 each
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#2 Ron Hicks

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Posted 11 January 2007 - 12:20 PM

That must be one fine splintin wedge - I can buy a rick of wood spilt & delivered for $45.00
Have U seen the wedges thats on a Bar? Kinda like a fence post driver.

Myself I used a pole ax do my splitin -which I was only burin good red oak
easiest spliting when the woods frozen
Back in the day I was a splint fool with a Pole Ax , the maul swingers did have a chance:D
Ron AKA Paul Bunyon ;)

#3 patrickrock

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Posted 11 January 2007 - 12:48 PM

I use some cheapies I bought at lowes. They work great. I can't imagine how a $50 splitting wedge could be worth $50.

Lee Valley sells something interesting though. A spiral splitting wedge. The spiral adds extra leverage to the wedge action.

http://www.leevalley...142&cat=1,41131

#4 Candidquality

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Posted 11 January 2007 - 01:04 PM

Well, they say they are hand forged with a twist(though not quite as agressive) to them. We know that making things by hand does tend to cost a bit more than production line cast materials. So for hand crafted, I wouldn't say it's out of line. I personally wouldn't pay that for it, but I would just make my own anyway. This is more of a mental exercise than something that would ever make me money. Odds are someone has had no other idea for a damascus billet and at one point thought of making it into a wedge for all I know.
So yes, cheap cast is always an option, but what would you want to do if you had the time to play with making your own.

For Paul Bunyon...what type of maul would you make? I would guess it would be nice to have a re-inforced handle brace in front for the ocassional miss, but what else would be a nice feature. And how about the angle. keep it a constant or have it spread out for greater split at the end(or in the case of a wedge to have a bigger target to hit ;) )

#5 ThomasPowers

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Posted 11 January 2007 - 01:21 PM

Well Gransfors is a production line hand forged stuff with lots of machinery used. I had their book on axes and they showed a dropforge set up with about a dozen stations on it for forging axes.

Scandanavia is not the low cost place to make things so they usually op for doing stuff very well but expensive.

Thomas
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#6 the_sandy_creek_forge

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Posted 11 January 2007 - 01:44 PM

I've got a half a dozen older wedges that work just as good as the day they were made (probably sometime in the 50's??) I've seen the twisted type wedges and in theory i guess they should work great, but I haven't tried one yet. Since we've built the logsplitter, Dad and I usually just use that for splitting firewood. We use a maul in addition sometimes to get done quicker, or if one of us wants the workout, or if a log gets stuck on the splitter (red elm is good at that). The wedges only see any use when I am quartering a hickory log for handle blanks. I prefer to quarter the log in long sections and then cut out the best parts once it has dried and seasoned, so six wedges comes in handy.

Interesting story: When my dad was a kid, my grandpa had bought some "really lightweight splitting wedges." After blasting a stump out along a fence line, Grandpa used a couple of the wedges to try and split the stump (why he didn't just drill and blast again we will never know), and the wedges got stuck beyond pulling out. The solution? Burn the stump (they never considered ruining the temper of the wedges). The stump had burned down pretty well, when there was a sudden bright flash like fireworks going off. Apparently a large component of the wedges was magnesium, and while it is difficult to ignite magnesium in large cross sections, the stump musta burned hot enough to do it. They never did find the wedges. I suppose the moral is make sure you know what you're using before you use it.

-Aaron @ the SCF

Edit: I guess I never did mention. My preference is regular old steel wedges. They've been around long enough that "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."

#7 clark-kentski

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Posted 11 January 2007 - 02:39 PM

They make good cutting hardys, Just cut it down to about 4 inches and weld on the correct size shaft for your hardy hole. :)

#8 Candidquality

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Posted 11 January 2007 - 05:54 PM

That's a good one Aaron. I have to remember that one.

#9 Ron Hicks

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Posted 11 January 2007 - 11:14 PM

I would not use a mual -single bit ax works for me & I dont miss.
Have you used a wedge much?
Ive used some bad ones- At one time I split logs into bow staves 10 in.dia. + and 6-7 feet long.Only used Hickory & Osage Orange(if you know what Osage or Hedge Apple tree is it just doesnt fall apart)
If the wedge angles is to steep they will jump out.
Ive seen them go 7-8 foot in the air for sure knock out your teeth.
Ive had it happen on narliy fire wood also
The best wedges Ive used were long & slender -the one in the pic.has a good shape.
Whats the V groves suppose to do???keep it from backin out?

Are you really going to make a wedge?

#10 Ron Hicks

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Posted 11 January 2007 - 11:34 PM

The ax on top is a Poll Ax
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Sometimes you have trouble starting a wedge (or a mual bounces off) splitting tough knotty narliy wood.
You can cut a slit with you saw or use a Poll ax - swing it or drive it and start the split.
A poll ax is a wedge on a handle.
When I was a kid Dad would say -I could tear up a wedge in a sand pile.

Are you really makin a wedge?

#11 Glenn

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Posted 12 January 2007 - 12:13 AM

That is what I know as a single bit axe (top) and a double bit axe (bottom). A pole axe is a weapon much like the single bit axe but on a long pole, often with a spike opposite the cutting blade. But I am sure different names can be used for the same tool in different geographic locations.

If someone questions your standards, they are not high enough.

Do not build a box, that way you do not have to think outside the box.


#12 Candidquality

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Posted 12 January 2007 - 06:17 AM

Yes, I'm really going to make a wedge or two. I enjoy doing things a bit out of the ordinary. After reading up a bit more, I notice talks about being heat treated, this implies a higher carbon steel. Could the el-cheapo wedges be a source of fairly high carbon steel? at $1.25 to $2 a pound. Do you think any of them are simply cast iron? Or would they be too brittle? Just a thought.

I was curious about those "V" on the wedge as well. Perhaps to keep it from backing out. Or to keep it from sliding left or right.

I was also wandering through the hardware store and reading the descriptions on the cold chisels. And it stated they were for cutting into metals softer than the tip of the chisel. No mention of how hard the chisel was, just that hopefully it's harder than what you're trying to cut.

#13 Strine

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Posted 12 January 2007 - 06:27 AM

Interesting discussion. Reminds me of driving through the bush one day where I happened upon a fine log about ten feet long which had obviously "fallen off the back of a truck" :) It looked like it would split into some nice fence rails. "Bewdy" says I. Just one problem. Only tool to hand in my survey vehicle was an axe. The sledge was at home happily awaiting its repair after my assistant "modified" it somewhat. And wedges were not something I carried in the ute(pron: yewt = pickup? (then!). I did have a bag of redgum (Australian hardwood ... common as muck) survey pegs which looked a lot like wedges to me under the circumstances. Needs must when the devil drives eh?

Moral of the story; don't worry about $50 steel wedges - get a bag of survey pegs...they work like a charm. Mmm ... they probly cost about $60 :rolleyes:

On those steel wedges in the pickky. I have always understood this shape of wedge ie tapered at the top, should be hit with a steel sledge. The wedges that are more a classical (read mathematical) wedge shape ie they start with a cutting edge and just get wider should be hit with a wooden maul.

And finally a tip passed on from my farver. Always leave one wedge in the wedge bag to use as an absolute last resort. You'll work out why one day

As for pole axes, single bit, double bit etc. For your (non-Aussies) edification the top picture is an ordinary ol' axe ... (note the 'e') and the bottom one is something you see at the flicks (movies). :D
Good better best...never let it rest...'till your good is better....and your better best. (Furphy)

#14 Tyler Murch

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Posted 12 January 2007 - 07:08 AM

That first splitting wedge is about as nice as they get... Twisting it helps it go into the wood easier and wedge it apart more.

#15 Glenn

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Posted 12 January 2007 - 09:07 AM

I have used both single bit and double bit axes. The double bit is for me easier to use as it seems better balanced. As to the wedges, I have use the hardware store variety, and a few home made ones, both metal and wood. As Strine suggested, start with a metal wedge and then use the wood wedges to follow the natural split.

Straight grain wood splits easy. Short sections of wood split easier than long sections. Cut the wood so the forks and knots are cut out as drops. Split the easy stuff first and the forks and knots when you get time.

Don't try to get every piece of wood to split. Some pieces will refuse to split and just laugh at you. This is why you have a chain saw.

If someone questions your standards, they are not high enough.

Do not build a box, that way you do not have to think outside the box.


#16 Ron Hicks

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Posted 12 January 2007 - 09:17 AM

Old Abe
Split lots of fence rail with a wooden maul and wood wedges (not sure think called Gullets) Ive used wooden wedges in a pinch .
Pole Ax is what I have allways called them - isnt the back end of the ax called a pole?

If you make a wedge you need to make a sledge to drive it with:)

#17 the_sandy_creek_forge

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Posted 12 January 2007 - 10:03 AM

Glenn,
In Ron's defense, I too have heard single bit axes called Pole Axes. I mostly remember hearing this from my Grandpa and my Great Uncle, who both ran various sawmills on the famiy's farms. I would wager it might be a term more specific to logging/sawmill operations that then filtered out into common usage in different areas.

I've also heard pole axe refer to an ax that was like a hybrid between an axe and a splitting maul. The one in particular that I am thinking of had a sledge-like face and the angle of the bit was somewhere between an axe and a maul.

Candid,
I would bet a nice heavy truck axle (or a skidloader axle, or tractor axle, or whatever) would make some fine wedges ;)

-Aaron @ the SCF

#18 Candidquality

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Posted 12 January 2007 - 10:47 AM

Thanks for the interesting stories. Hopefully I can play a bit this weekend or next and see what develops. I know it's just a consumer of time and my money would be more wisely spent buying a set, but I really need the practice anyway and I think it would be a fairly forgiving project.

#19 ThomasPowers

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Posted 12 January 2007 - 11:39 AM

I think our jargon is getting in the way:

The poll is the part of the axe opposite the blade so a double bitted axe has no poll.

A poleaxe is a medieval renaissance weapon a type of polearm

a Glut is a wooden wedge often used to widen splits started by other means---traditionally made from hard tough woods like dogwood in the USA

Ron can you tell us how you know how Abe did it back 150 years ago? I would have thought he did it with one iron wedge and a bunch of gluts---like I used to split 20' ash trunks.
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#20 the_sandy_creek_forge

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Posted 12 January 2007 - 01:58 PM

Thomas,
AH HAH, once again the spelling nuances of the English language come to play. So really any axe that is not a double-bit could be considered a POLL-AX because it has a poll. Works for me. On a different note, while looking for a picture of the axe/maul/sledge tool I had mentioned earlier, I stumbled across this page. It didn't clear up the poll question at the time, but it does show many different axe head designs. It could benefit from a couple different view angles (especially on the broad axed and hewing axes) but nonetheless it got added to my "blacksmith references" bookmark folder.

http://www.fs.fed.us...3Pdpi72pt03.pdf

-Aaron @ the SCF




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