The other day I was talking to my dad. The conversation worked it’s way around to splitting wood and he recounted how his grandpa and friends split logs too large to split by hand when my dad was a small boy.
This would have been in the mid to late 1930’s before chain saws existed or at least were common where we were from. Trees were cut down using a long saw that needed two people to operate. They looked something like this:
I remember seeing one hanging in my grandad’s old shop (since donated to the Dawson County Historical Museum, I believe).
Now, this didn’t sound like so much fun to operate and some of these trees were fairly large cottonwoods. The lower trunk sections were too large to split by hand so an explosive wedge was used. They looked something like this.
The way my dad remembers it is the work crew (his granddad) would load the wedge with a chunk of dynamite, hammer it into the section of log they wanted to split and then set it off. Presto! A split log! The noise was pretty impressive if not downright frightening. I’m guessing a number of federal and state agencies would take a dim view of this method now.
I found one article described how this worked. Apparently, some of the wedges had a red flag attached so that they could locate the wedge later. Nice touch that though dad didn’t mention this detail.
Fun story from days gone by.