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Thread: The Hunt for Junk

  1. #1

    The Hunt for Junk

    While heavily involved in the great Firewood Harvest of 2008, I broke a pin on my winch so I went hunting for a temp replacement until I could machine one at work. Well that brought me into my Grandfather's old tractor shed...now a heap of lumber that is filled with junk and clutter and is barely standing. While searching for a pin I found some cool stuff. Mostly Auger bits for old braces and hand cranked drills. I scoffed them up as anything in there is mine for the taking.

    What really was a great find was an old star drill bit. This Star drill bit is about 14 inches long,an inch or so in diameter and heavily used. It was used around here a lot to punch holes in rocks so dynamite could be stuffed inside and turn a big rock into little rocks. I know,it has absolutely NOTHING to do with woodworking, but still a great find nonetheless.

    Not far from this shed (100 feet maybe) there is an old granite rock that was too big to move via tractors of the day, and so someone pounded a hole halfway through it so a stick of dynamite could be placed in there. No one did though, it is located WAYYYYY to close to the house.

    I grew up hearing lots of funny stories about dynamite since back then you could buy it at the local hardware store. Some of those stories included my Grandfather getting way too tipsy on Firewater and not calculating his dynamite load to rock ratios just right. Apparently what he thought was a huge rock was just one big flat rock and after sailing through the air, it landed on the powerlines!! (Family tradition I guess)

    Others included using a quarter stick of dynamite to flip a rock over one flip at a time across a field just so he could prove he could do it without having to blast the thing to smithereens.

    My own dynamite story is much more tame I guess. Most of the old barns around here have plenty of dynamite packed up into the beams or flooring and if you know where to look you can find plenty of it. Anyway my Uncle sold his house and the owner was telling me he his boys had ADHD. I said "well on that note you probably don't want this hanging around then," then grabbed a box of dynamite and the blasting caps. I tossed them in my truck and never thought much about it until I went into Walmart one day. Right on my seat with this big wooden box that said "EXPLOSIVES"in big red and white paint. I could just see myself coming out of Walmart with my truck surrounded by the Rockland PD and the Bomb Squad hovering over my pickup. I tossed a sweatshirt over the stuff so no one would see it and then stored the stuff elsewhere after that.

    Maybe that old dynamite and woodworking tools will join up one of these days. I was watching a thing on welding on Modern Marvels and they use explosives now to make "cladding" That is two layers of unlike steel fused together with an explosive blast. I was thinking aluminum, or stainless steel bonded to cast it or would make a great cladding for hand planes. I bet that is something Tom Lie Nielsen would never try
    I have no intention of traveling from birth to the grave in a manicured and well preserved body; but rather I will skid in sideways, totally beat up, completely worn out, utterly exhausted and jump off my tractor and loudly yell, "Wow, this is what it took to feed a nation!"

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
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    Mountain Home, Arkansas
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    11,833
    Scary stuff. I do believe that old dynamite can be very unstable. Meaning bumps and thumps can set it off.
    Yes, I remember the days when it could be bought at any hardware store. I would buy it for my father who blasted stumps out from around our summer cottage in Michigan.

  3. #3
    Yeah dynamite doesn't like shock to much...hence the blasting cap it needs.

    I remember one day we were burning an old hay field for the local fire department. Its a Spring tradition around here. Anyway this old duffer starts hollering for us to stop...runs down to this old car that is out in the field and pulls a few boxes of dynamite from the car.

    It was all for nothing really. The Old Duffer took more of a risk picking it up then us burning grass out around the old car. Heck you could burn the boxes right out from under the dynamite and it would never go off. It needs a shock to set it off...like a shot from a rifle or a small blast like that of the blasting cap.

    Personally I find the stuff intriguing, but with my long history of having well intended exploits ending in tragedy (fires, trees on powerlines, hitting rocks at high speed,and chainsaw incidents...and this is just this past month) the explosives industry is probably a lot better off if I stick to being a machinist and buy my cladding from reputable vendors instead of trying to home-brew some up.
    I have no intention of traveling from birth to the grave in a manicured and well preserved body; but rather I will skid in sideways, totally beat up, completely worn out, utterly exhausted and jump off my tractor and loudly yell, "Wow, this is what it took to feed a nation!"

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Posts
    535
    My dad used to use it to dig prospect pits on mineral claims. A stick made a quick and easy pit to satisfy the Federal staking requirement (no longer needed). I still have a dozen or so empty dynamite boxes. I think I still have his blasters handbook around somewhere.

    IIRC, the dangerous thing about old dynamite is that the nitro glycerin comes out of its stabilizing media. If that happens, just being left out in the sun is enough to set it off (another one of dad's stories). I'd probably save the boxes and drop the rest in the ocean myself, I like nice safe hobbies, like juggling chainsaws.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    San Antonio, Texas
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    765
    My granddad used dynamite to fish once in a while. But he always preferred a rod & reel (old Zebco).

  6. #6
    My dad got detained by the FBI for his foray into the world of explosives.

    Yeah back in 1973 he was working as a machinist on the night shift when some some college aged kid asked him if he would help him weld a couple pieces of pipe together. As always, Dad says yes WAYYYY before asking anyone what they are up to. But after he was done the kid said he would show him.

    So he packed the makeshift pipe up with match heads, then proceeded to launch a broomstick handle about 200 feet in the air. Well they kept launching stuff, but the last time, the kid used some metal solid round to pack the match heads. A spark was generated and he lost four of his fingers.

    Well the emergency room was curious and the next thing you know a police report was filled out, and true to the good old days, no one was too concerned. That was until some post office was bombed back in 1974. The very next day the FBI showed right up on my dad's place of employment and wanted to know just where he was the day before. It was easy to prove he had nothing to do with it,so it was no big deal...

    But as that old Arthur Guthry Thanksgiving Day song of Alice's' Resteraunt says,somewhere in Washington DC there is a long Group W list with my dad's name on it!!
    I have no intention of traveling from birth to the grave in a manicured and well preserved body; but rather I will skid in sideways, totally beat up, completely worn out, utterly exhausted and jump off my tractor and loudly yell, "Wow, this is what it took to feed a nation!"

  7. #7
    At work we have made several of these Potato Guns. They are pretty cool. We use Starting Fluid for the charge and see how far we can launch spuds.

    Definitely no making of cladding with these things,but you can make potato saladfrom400 feet away!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CpAJOPzKK-M
    I have no intention of traveling from birth to the grave in a manicured and well preserved body; but rather I will skid in sideways, totally beat up, completely worn out, utterly exhausted and jump off my tractor and loudly yell, "Wow, this is what it took to feed a nation!"

  8. #8
    Well a did a bit of digging on the internet and found a picture of some old time quarry workers using star drills.This is what I picked up in my Grandfathers shed, and this was how they were used.

    By placing the star drill on the rock, you would hold it while someone else took a sledge hammer and hit it. (A bit of trust goes a long ways there). Then between hammer blows, you turned the drill a quarter turn,and soon a round hole was pounded a few inches into the rock. By making a series of holes along the grain of the granite, you could manipulate where the split occurred. Just as it is with wood, a good quarry man could read the rock and tell where the best place to sheer it was.

    From there steel wedges called feathers were put in the holes. These were half round hollow wedges that when pounded home, put enormous pressure on the rock. Even though the holes were only a few inches deep,they could split a rock five feet thick or better.



    It was pretty cool what they did in many of Maine's quarries. here is a picture of what a finished split block of granite looks like at Fort Knox inProspect, Maine.

    I have no intention of traveling from birth to the grave in a manicured and well preserved body; but rather I will skid in sideways, totally beat up, completely worn out, utterly exhausted and jump off my tractor and loudly yell, "Wow, this is what it took to feed a nation!"

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    St. Louis, MO
    Posts
    583
    I was recently at a museum sculpture exhibit showing pieces made from large sections of stone - no boulders (they all fit inside the exhibit hall), but nothing smaller than a refrigerator.
    The work was done by a Japanese sculptor who quarried his own stone. He described the process as boring a line of holes with star drills - some holes up to a foot deep. Then he would run wooden dowels into the holes - i forget the species. Then came the water. The dowels would be shorter than the depth of the hole so that, when driven all the way in, a few inches of hole remained. Fill that with water, and when the wood swelled, it would split the stone.
    I thought it was ingenious. I'm sure that's how it was done centuries ago.
    Paul Hubbman

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Hubbman View Post
    I was recently at a museum sculpture exhibit showing pieces made from large sections of stone - no boulders (they all fit inside the exhibit hall), but nothing smaller than a refrigerator.
    The work was done by a Japanese sculptor who quarried his own stone. He described the process as boring a line of holes with star drills - some holes up to a foot deep. Then he would run wooden dowels into the holes - i forget the species. Then came the water. The dowels would be shorter than the depth of the hole so that, when driven all the way in, a few inches of hole remained. Fill that with water, and when the wood swelled, it would split the stone.
    I thought it was ingenious. I'm sure that's how it was done centuries ago.
    Paul Hubbman
    Yep, sure was Paul. That was how the Egyptians built the great pyramids. Holes, bone dry wood,then water to split the limestone.

    Here in Maine we get a bit more help. The old timers like my Great Grandfather would pound a hole into a rock, pour water into it, pound a plug into the top of the hole and then wait until morning. Thanks to the temp hitting below freezing temps, the water would freeze, expanding 11% and crack the rock.

    This very principal is why Maine has such a jagged and ragged coast. The high tides we have (12-24 feet) brings water up into the rocks then recedes, the temps hit low temps, freezes, shatters the rock and then starts the process all over again 11 hours later when the tide comes back. You can see the results of this process in this picture.

    I have no intention of traveling from birth to the grave in a manicured and well preserved body; but rather I will skid in sideways, totally beat up, completely worn out, utterly exhausted and jump off my tractor and loudly yell, "Wow, this is what it took to feed a nation!"

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