A wood what is it, but really its a why is it? 110 year old balloon construction house

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Forum topic by wrenchguy posted 11-08-2012 01:18 PM 2665 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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14 posts in 2513 days

11-08-2012 01:18 PM

I’m working on daughters 110year old house in plymouth taxachewetts and have run across this thingy driven into the corner of 2×4. It goes in at like 45degrees, not 90degrees to any face. The thingy looks tobe a wedge of wood as u can see the endgrain of the wedge. This is the 3rd or 4th time i’ve come across these during the 6-1/2 years i been here off and on. I’ve seen them in 2×10’s and other 2×4’s, always driven into the corner of the board. Why and what purpose are these. Maybe this is a sawyer question.
Anyone know a good sawyer fourm?
if ur interested, here are a couple other sites i have this posted at.

-- wrenchguy mike, nw indiana, armpit of the nation!

10 replies so far

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404 - Not Found

2544 posts in 3424 days

#1 posted 11-08-2012 05:24 PM

I don’t know the answer but I am intrigued…
Are they driven into shakes or did someone take the time to make a hole to put them in?

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#2 posted 11-08-2012 07:31 PM

damn good lather.

-- Sawdust and shavings are therapeutic

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Bill White

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#3 posted 11-08-2012 08:06 PM

Could they have been put in to “swell” an edge makin’ it more even?

-- [email protected]

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#4 posted 11-08-2012 08:22 PM

I would guess a shim or knot fill. just a guess.

-- Be honest, honorable, kind, work hard, and generally be awesome.

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#5 posted 11-08-2012 08:49 PM

They have a few names, it depends what part of the country your in and what country the craftsmen came from.
It is a wedge of wood drive in to a “green timber” to even out the drying. The end grain of the wedge acts as a wick (wick-wedge) to allow the pith to dry about the same rate as the faces of the board. They also help to stop a check from running the length of a board. Hope this is helpful

-- "A man that works with his hands, knows his soul" " Have Fun, Go Fast, and Take Chances for Christ's Sake!!"

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#6 posted 11-08-2012 09:16 PM

I love info like that ^. Good stuff David.

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

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#7 posted 11-08-2012 09:22 PM

That’s really cool. As slave labor to my home-building step-dad, I pulled nails from many native lumber rough sawn boards. I also worked as a remodeler for the last 20 yrs. of my working life. I have never seen that before. Thanks for posting.

-- Please Pray for Our Troops / Semper Fi / Bob Ross /

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14 posts in 2513 days

#8 posted 11-08-2012 10:49 PM

David, it sounds good, u got anything in writing or on online to verify? i’d like to learn more?
thank u

-- wrenchguy mike, nw indiana, armpit of the nation!

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76 posts in 2482 days

#9 posted 11-09-2012 01:23 PM

This information came from several sources, all older men who worked in the late 1800’s & early 1900’s in the timber/balloon building era. Two from the Fall River/New Bedford MA area and one from Maine. They each had their own name for them, “SHAKES PIN”, SHAKES WEDGE, SHAKES STOP & Wedge Wicks”, They all said that this was a learned technic, passed on from master to apprentice. It was explained to me that these pins help stop faming from drying to fast. They were use more in the hot summer months when framing was exposed to the sun for weeks or months at a time. Remember that nearly all framing and sheeting lumber at the time was “green” usually delivered to the job site the some day it was cut from the log. In balloon construction, a 2×4 that is nailed to the bottom plate at the foundation is also nailed to the top plate at the roof line. Sometimes these 2X4’s can be over 20 feet long or longer, with better than 60% moisture, standing on end, in the sun to dry and already fasten to other wet lumber. Like you I have not found any written verification for this, just hearing this from the old-timers that worked in this era. Hope this is helpful.

-- "A man that works with his hands, knows his soul" " Have Fun, Go Fast, and Take Chances for Christ's Sake!!"

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#10 posted 11-11-2012 07:47 AM

yep, wedge wicks, as they are known to folks in my area. not at all common with today’s pre-dried lumber. I’ve seen them myself in many many many centennial aged buildings and construction. they were usually put in at 45’s on the corner to keep the hole they made (or used) from splitting the timber any farther. most wedges were sourced from the same board they were put into. probably from scrap cutoffs or such

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