The wedge-and-feather method is a manual technique for splitting rock. It involves the use of metal hand tools hammered into a drilled hole or natural crack in a larger stone to break it down into smaller, more manageable pieces. A wedge-and-feather set is made up of a number of tools.
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Wedge-and-feather rock drilling requires the use of two feather tools. These are straight metal rods with curved tops, and this style of top helps to make the feathers easier to handle. The outer face of the feathers typically features a round profile, while the inner face has a flat shape. When the feathers are placed in a hole or crack in a rock, the flat inner faces act as a guide for the wedge. The feathers also help to reduce the chances of the wedge becoming jammed.
The wedge typically comprises a metal rod with a tapered shape and a flat head. The wedge is placed between two feathers that were inserted into a drilled hole or natural crack in a rock. The combined diameter of the wedge and feathers where they meet should have a size in excess of the diameter of hole or width of crack. Striking the flat head of the wedge with a hammer drives it between the feathers and forces the feathers against the side of the hole or crack. This action causes the rock to split.
Wedge-and-feather drills come in a few shapes. While the body of all drills feature a thin metal rod with a flat head, the shape of the drill head varies. Some of the options available include drill heads with a round blade, star-shaped drill heads, and drill heads with a pointed blade. Rather than featuring a rotary drilling style, those used in the wedge-and-feather technique simply have the flat head of the body struck by a hammer to drive the drill head into the rock.
The hammer used in wedge-and-feather splitting commonly has a small metal head with a wooden handle. This tool has two purposes. In combination with the drill it can break holes into the rock needed for the technique. It also drives the wedge between the feathers to split the rock.
The holes drilled into a rock as part of the wedge-and-feather technique can fill with rock dust. However, driving the wedge rod as deep as possible into the rock increases the chances of it splitting, and removing the dust from the bottom of the hole can therefore assist. A specialised spoon can do this job. This typically has a thin round handle, with a spoon-shaped head designed to empty the hole of dust.
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