Nova Scotia

Debert inventor says he's created wood splitter that's safer, more efficient

An inventor from Debert, N.S. hopes a provincial innovation competition will find value in his design for a new wood splitter.

Wood splitter features two-degree angled blade that cuts wood more smoothly

An inventor from Debert, N.S. hopes a provincial innovation competition will find value in his design for a new, more efficient wood splitter. 0:35

An inventor from Debert, N.S. hopes a provincial innovation competition will find value in his design for a new, more efficient wood splitter even though manufacturers have so far taken a pass. 

Walter Rodler is also seeking a patent for his machine which features a two-degree angled shear rather than the traditional wedge used to pry open logs.

"Not just better, but more portable and safer in so many ways," Rodler says as he demonstrates one of his designs in the back of his property in Colchester County.

The Halifax Shipyard welder has been tinkering with his design for years. He says it took multiple tests before he settled on the angled blade, which is able to handle all types of wood.

The result is a machine that requires less power because it slices through wood more easily and without pieces flying off, he says.

"The angled blade works together with the hydraulics to only need that amount of pressure to start separating the wood,' he said.

In repeated demonstrations, wood smoothly passes through the blade without the pressurized pops when wood is cracked open with traditional wedge splitter.

Hands-free wood splitter

The device is also virtually hands free — a feature that appeals to neighbour Robert Taylor who, at age 18, lost most of his left index finger when he was clearing a jammed wood planer.

"This is what can happen," says Taylor, holding up his hand.

"This is is why I believe Walter's product will save people from having injury. I really believe that."

Safety concerns brought local municipal councillor Doug MacInnes to Rodler. He's paying $100 dollars to retrofit his $500 store-bought wedge splitter.

"With Walter's invention, the angled wedge it keeps that stick in there. There's no way it can come out. That makes it so much safer — not only for the kids, but for myself. I feel so much safer running Walter's machine, rather than this machine," he says.

While Rodler is seeking a patent at this point, the invention is stranded in Colchester County. So far, manufacturers he's contacted have not been interested.

He blames engineers who can't think out of the box.

"This is what I believe I am up against. Engineers who have learned a different concept of thinking. We inventors, we are wide in our concept," he said.

He has entered in the Innovacorp Technology Start-up Competition — a provincial Crown corporation contest. He's one of 14 entries from northern Nova Scotia.

Rodler believes the splitter would be especially useful to the province's wood-lot owners. He has also put together a much larger model.

About the Author

Paul Withers

Reporter

Paul Withers is an award-winning journalist whose career started in the 1970s as a cartoonist. He has been covering Nova Scotia politics for more than 20 years.

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