Archimedean Woodworking

I’m talking here about Archimedes of Syracuse, who once (perhaps apocryphally) stated “Give me a place to stand, and with a lever I will move the whole world.”.  While many times in woodworking we don’t want to lever things (a chisel is for cutting, not prying), occasionally it comes up.  A froe, for instance, uses a lever arm attached to a wedge to force a split.  An English “pigsticker” mortice chisel is shaped the way it is so that you can lever chips out of a mortice, especially a blind one.  And when it comes to moving logs around, there is a very helpful lever called a peavey.


A peavey is named after its inventor, Joseph Peavey, who came up with the idea in 1857.  The company (Peavey Manufacturing) he founded is still around, still in America, and still producing quality tools.  Take that, China!

One of the problems I have when I’m dealing with fresh-cut timber is that trees don’t come in boards.  They come in logs.  Logs are heavy.  Moving them around by yourself can be nigh-on impossible, especially as they usually aren’t round.  Roundish maybe, but branch stubs hang them up a lot.  And moving several hundred pounds of wood around is a minor chore to move anyway.  But using the leverage that a peavey provides, it is a lot more doable.  It also keeps your chainsaw in better condition because instead of cutting all the way through into the dirt, you can flip the log relatively easily and cut on the other side.  In the winter, if you get log rounds frozen to the ground, there’s enough leverage to pop them free so you can split them.

If you routinely deal with whole logs, especially from larger trees ( >18″), and certainly if you do it alone, the peavey is a definite must-buy.