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Chain Saw Collectors Vintage chainsaws and other small gas engine saws, collecting and restoring.

Chain Saw Collectors

Black powder log gun?


I was talking to a gentleman from down under (austrailia) here in michigan, about my sawmill and...

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Old 05-15-2012, 08:18 AM
treeslicer treeslicer is offline
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Default Black powder log gun?

I was talking to a gentleman from down under (austrailia) here in michigan, about my sawmill and what to do about logs too large to fit my sawmill. I told him about blowing up logs with black powder to size them for my sawmill; youtube; 40" black walnut explosion split. & he told me that the 'old boys' down under would use what they called a LOG GUN, to split logs up. anybody ever hear of one? got any pic's? thanx treeslicer
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Old 05-15-2012, 08:42 AM
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JKWidener JKWidener is offline
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Default Re: log gun?

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Old 05-15-2012, 03:57 PM
Tencubed Tencubed is offline
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Default Re: log gun?

Popping a big log open by drilling a hole and putting a charge of black powder in it works as shown.

I suspect your Aussie friend is referring to what we called a "splitting gun".

We used splitting guns years ago to split black pitch pine fence post out of the butt cuts left by early loggers. This pine was almost solid pitch and was very hard to cut or split.

A splitting gun is kind of like a long and wide splitting wedge but has a 1", or a little bigger, hole drilled into it from the big end. This hole is cross drilled with smaller holes, about 3/8", through the flat surfaces of the wedge. A pipe plug with a 1/4" hole in it fits into the threaded end of the big hole.

A driving cap system consisting of a flush fitting threaded plug, a steel cap that fit over the end of the wedge and a small retaining pin was used to drive the wedge into the end of the log.

In use the gun was driven deeply into the end of the log, charged with black powder, pipe plug put in place and fuse added. A long piece of heavy chain was attached to the gun to keep in from flying too far.

Fuse was lit, everyone took cover and the fun stuff happened. Usually the log would split the first shot, sometimes a couple of shots were needed but it was easy to get the gun back into the log for the second shot. The chain would keep the gun from traveling more that several yards.

I've seen logs up to 20' long and 4' thru split in this manner. Mostly the guns were used to split post length logs, 7' or a little longer.

Fun stuff for a young kid to be around, kind of sorry we went to steel post. I suspect that old splitting gun is still out in the old shop somewhere.

Mike
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Old 05-15-2012, 05:01 PM
Bob Willman Bob Willman is offline
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Default Re: log gun?

When I was a teenager my grandfather had a black powder log splitter. It was still on the farm several years ago but I suspect it went with a load of scrap sometime back.

It was a round steel bar about 14 inches long and 2.5 - 3 inches in diameter. On the business end it was tapered with rings in the shape of wedges turned around the taper so it would not pull back out of the log easily. The tapered end had about a 1 inch hole maybe 3 or 4 inches deep with a side fuse hole at the bottom of the cavity. He used cannon powder (small pea sized grains) probably a tablespoon or two in the cavity, a leaf to hold the powder in place and then it was driven into the end of the log until powder puffed out the fuse hole, fuse in place, lit and then everyone stepped away lively and waited. It would split a good sized limb several feet long into 3 or 4 pieces ready for the buzz saw.


It would also break up some stumps when driven into the middle and a black of wood set on top of it to help hold it in place.



I hope we can still find it laying in the barn somewhere.

Bob
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Old 05-15-2012, 05:54 PM
Harvey Teal Harvey Teal is offline
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Default Re: log gun?

We used a black powder wedge similar to what Mike describes to split fenceposts out of Black Locust. Pretty ornery but it would do the job.
Also used it to split trunks from old roadside Maples, Oaks etc that were full of hardware such as railroad spikes, cannonballs, and the like. We made our own powder.
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Old 05-15-2012, 07:12 PM
Jason Jason is offline
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Default Re: Black powder log gun?

Are these what you guys are talking about?
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Old 05-15-2012, 08:26 PM
Jim Tremble Jim Tremble is offline
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Default Re: Black powder log gun?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason View Post
Are these were you guy are talking about?
We have one like the one at bottom left in your photo. I will post a photo tomorrow.

Jim
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Old 05-16-2012, 06:59 AM
treeslicer treeslicer is offline
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Default Re: Black powder log gun?

thanx for the pic's! now I know what they look like, i'll keep an eye out for them! I would like to see more pic's, in fact I want to see & hear one in action! treeslicer

---------- Post added at 06:59 AM ---------- Previous post was at 06:49 AM ----------

I saw this video on popular woodworking website, did you watch my log jumping? 1/4 of it jumps 15' in the air and does a 360 in the air and come down 5 yards away from where it was! and what a great split face! the way the wood fibres tore when the blast went off is just incredible, i'm slicing it off and using it for a mantle or some other type of showy place for it maybee a arch header in a timber frame where it will be seen & admired by many. I've seen rough sawn, bandsawed,circle sawn, chainsawed, smooth planed, hand huen, but I gotta say that the blast face that I see on this log is just an incredible look! thanx treeslicer
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Old 05-16-2012, 03:46 PM
Bob Willman Bob Willman is offline
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Default Re: Black powder log gun?

The one in the middle of the top row looks like one my grandfather used.

Bob
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Old 05-16-2012, 04:44 PM
Tencubed Tencubed is offline
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Default Re: Black powder log gun?

The splitting guns Jason shows are the same concept but shaped differently than the one we used. Never seen any others so it's informative to see these pictures.

The black powder used was Hercules or Little Giant brand and was formed in little triangles about 1/4" thick and maybe 3/8" on each leg. It would be crushed down some before use. Most folks called it "Corn Powder".

Interesting thing about buying the stuff in those days. If you were old enough to carry the bag you could buy it bulk at the hardware store in town. They had a big wooden keg of it in the basement of the store and would weigh out how much you wanted into a double paper bag. Scooped it out with a metal scoop. There was also "stumping powder", 40% dynamite, stored there as well along with slow and fast fuse. Caps were kept in a separate area of the basement due to safety concerns about them being "dangerous". Far cry from the regulations of today.

Used to really enjoy going out with my Grandfather to blast rocks out of the fields or split post. Kind of like the 4th of July but in a bigger way.

Mike
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Old 05-16-2012, 10:08 PM
Jason Jason is offline
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Default Re: Black powder log gun?

I have a couple more that I don't have pictured. I also have used them a few times when we have a big oak log. We start a regular wedge into the log first and then remove it. Then we fill the powder wedge with powder, a fuse, and a piece of balled up newspaper to keep the powder in it. I then hammer the powder wedge into place and roll a pretty big chunk tight behind it to keep it in place. Light the fuse and run. I haven't lost a wedge yet (knock on wood) using this method. The wedge is always just laying on the ground. It really shakes the windows and the neighbors come out of their houses.
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