all know what feathers are – they cover the skin of birds; as for
wedges, those are used to split firewood. OK, but what on earth do
they have to do with each other – if anything?
not going to talk about birds’ feathers or splitting a winter fuel
supply. Here we’re going to talk about the things also known as
plugs and wedges, wedges
and shims and pins and feathers. Confused now?
and wedges are
ancient tools (still available from a number of dealers) used to split stone.
they may be, but they’re still one of the easiest and simplest way
to shape stone. They were used to shape the stone used in Europe’s
cathedrals, to cut the flagstone for American
city sidewalks and in the production of millions of gravestones in
cut stone using feathers and wedges the first step is to drill a
series of holes about six inches apart in a straight line. In olden
times a star drill and hammer were used to drill the holes, now a
powered drill is used. Following that, two feathers and a wedge are
inserted in each hole.
all the feathers and wedges are in place they
are gently struck with a hammer, one after another and the process
repeated until the stone splits (the beginning of the split can be seen in the photo above).
cut by feathers and wedges often show the telltale holes drilled in
the process as seen in some of the stones in this bridge abutment –
the Big Woods there’s a large boulder which someone tried to split
with feathers and wedges, someone who apparently had heard about the
technique but didn’t know enough. The
drilled holes were too far apart to produce a straight cut.
because the holes are too far apart to effectively split the stone or
even split it at all, several sets of feathers and wedges are stuck
in the holes and have been there for many decades.
tools and their use have been handed down through the ages and are
still very effective – when they’re used correctly.