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Kane

Thin Edge of the Wedge

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Kane

As spring approaches, I'm preparing my shopping list for new tools to integrate into the fossil kit. Among one of the tools I'll be trying will be the use of a steel wedge for shale slab removal as opposed to my usual practice of using chisels, 4lb sledge, and pry bars (does anyone else get as excited as I do going tool shopping?). 

 

I have been looking at wedges, particularly an Estwing one that has two sections that flare out. All the wedges are listed for log splitting, but I remember seeing one collector at Penn Dixie use a wedge to remove slabs to some good effect. What I was thinking was to couple a nice sturdy wedge with a long-handled 12lb sledge to effectively "play croquet" with the shale slabs. I'm just wondering if anyone else has some advice and experience using steel wedges, and if there is an "ideal" type I should be looking for.

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Darktooth

I used to use the wedges made for log splitting to break into Dolomite  while hunting for Herkimer diamonds. They worked good but didn't last long up against the hard dolomite. But for somthing much softer like shale it should work. But I would avoid the ones that flare out to much as sometimes it works against you. Another trick is making a wedge from an old Leaf spring from a car. A lot of the mineral hunters use this as this is tough and stands up against repeated use. The curve to the spring acts similar to the flare of the wood wedge but less dramatically so it tends to go in farther without jamming up. Hope this helps.

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Fossildude19

You could always get a set of these

That, and a drill, and you're good to go. ;) 

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Kane

Thanks for these tips! The flaring might be a problem, so I'll be on the lookout for a more basic and durable wedge - or perhaps stop into an auto mechanic to see if they have a spare leaf spring for me to jury rig! 

 

I'll probably not go the drill route, though, and rely more on my Cro-Mag power ;)

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Sagebrush Steve
On 2/23/2017 at 6:17 AM, Kane said:

As spring approaches, I'm preparing my shopping list for new tools to integrate into the fossil kit. Among one of the tools I'll be trying will be the use of a steel wedge for shale slab removal as opposed to my usual practice of using chisels, 4lb sledge, and pry bars (does anyone else get as excited as I do going tool shopping?). 

 

I have been looking at wedges, particularly an Estwing one that has two sections that flare out. All the wedges are listed for log splitting, but I remember seeing one collector at Penn Dixie use a wedge to remove slabs to some good effect. What I was thinking was to couple a nice sturdy wedge with a long-handled 12lb sledge to effectively "play croquet" with the shale slabs. I'm just wondering if anyone else has some advice and experience using steel wedges, and if there is an "ideal" type I should be looking for.

 

I use these chisels from geo-tools when hunting Green River fish.  They work great, although you may also want something larger: http://www.geo-tools.com/fossil-rock-chisels/custom-thin-rock-splitting-chisels. They are very sharp, so keep them protected when stored.

 

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Ptychodus04
On 3/9/2017 at 10:57 AM, Sagebrush Steve said:

 

I use these chisels from geo-tools when hunting Green River fish.  They work great, although you may also want something larger: http://www.geo-tools.com/fossil-rock-chisels/custom-thin-rock-splitting-chisels. They are very sharp, so keep them protected when stored.

 

I use these same wedges to split shale here in north Texas. They work very well. I use two at a time to work a crack, tapping each a little further and alternating to slowly work a crack open.

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Kane

I have to give some props to the wedge I was using this weekend. It was a simple steel 5 lb one (marketed as a wood splitter), but it got the job done and made removing slabs much easier than simply using chisels and a pry bar - particularly for stubborn and dense shale. I certainly wouldn't use it on more easily friable stuff. As long as I was able to pound the wedge in deep enough to have it bite, I could then work out the rock with the pry bar and good old fashioned lever motion + gravity. It made what would have been a harder slog (or nigh impossible stuff) a non-issue this time around, and allowed for really good MMM (move more matrix :P ).

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Scylla

I've used the wood splitting wedges at Penn Dixie. Two tips. First never use one alone it can split the rock right over the wedge. Thats ok for removing waste rock, but if you want to extract large slabs use 2 or more wedges. Place them every 6 to 12 inches along the crack. Second tip ( taught to me by one of the dry dredgers) is be patient. Wait for the rock to adapt to the stresses imparted by the wedge. So tap each wedge along the line once or twice, then wait a minute or two. Then repeat. Very counterintuitive but it works faster than just hammering away. 

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RJB

  Hey Kane, Im so dang tuff i just use my fingers!!!  Ha!!!  :)  Just kidding.  Ive done one heck of alot of wood splitting over the years and I use to have 3 or 4 different wedges that had differing angles on them.  From very heavy duty fat ones to my smallest which was kinda thin compaired to the big ones.   But all heavy duty.   Just wish i had pictures to show you what i mean.  

 

RB

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RJB

  Hey Kane, now that ive put a tad bit of thought into this, I think my thin wedge was used/made for falling trees.  The ones used nowadays are usually a very hard orange plastic.  i also use to fall one heck of alot of trees.  Hope this helps.

 

RB

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Malcolmt

The wedge I use at Penn is a log splitting wedge cast iron and very rusty

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Kane
5 minutes ago, Malcolmt said:

The wedge I use at Penn is a log splitting wedge cast iron and very rusty

Ditto (at least it has become rusty in the last year). Mine is about 2" at its widest flare. Serves me very well.

On 8/25/2017 at 7:48 AM, Scylla said:

I've used the wood splitting wedges at Penn Dixie. Two tips. First never use one alone it can split the rock right over the wedge. Thats ok for removing waste rock, but if you want to extract large slabs use 2 or more wedges. Place them every 6 to 12 inches along the crack. Second tip ( taught to me by one of the dry dredgers) is be patient. Wait for the rock to adapt to the stresses imparted by the wedge. So tap each wedge along the line once or twice, then wait a minute or two. Then repeat. Very counterintuitive but it works faster than just hammering away. 

I've never had a slab split on me in that way. I generally drive just one of them in 2-4 inches, remove it, and stick the pry bar in and rip the slab out. 

On 8/26/2017 at 6:00 PM, RJB said:

  Hey Kane, Im so dang tuff i just use my fingers!!!  Ha!!!  :)  Just kidding.  Ive done one heck of alot of wood splitting over the years and I use to have 3 or 4 different wedges that had differing angles on them.  From very heavy duty fat ones to my smallest which was kinda thin compaired to the big ones.   But all heavy duty.   Just wish i had pictures to show you what i mean.  

 

RB

I actually would believe you would just use your fingers, Ron :D 

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