Kane

Thin Edge of the Wedge

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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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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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You could always get a set of these

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

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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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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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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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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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