A wedge is a triangular shaped tool, a compound and portable inclined plane of a wedge is given by the ratio of the length of its slope to its width. Although a short wedge with a wide angle may do a job faster, it requires more force than a long wedge with a narrow angle.
Perhaps the first example of a wedge is the hand axe, also see biface and Olorgesailie. A hand axe is made by chipping stone, generally flint, to form a bifacial edge, or wedge. A wedge is a simple machine that transforms lateral force and movement of the tool into a transverse splitting force and movement of the workpiece. The available power is limited by the effort of the person using the tool, but because power is the product of force and movement, the wedge amplifies the force by reducing the movement. This amplification, or mechanical advantage is the ratio of the input speed to output speed. For a wedge this is given by 1 The faces of a wedge are modeled as straight lines to form a sliding or prismatic joint.
The origin of the wedge is not known. In ancient Egyptian bronze wedges were used to break away blocks of stone used in construction. Wooden wedges that swelled after being saturated with water, were also used. Some indigenous peoples of the Americas used antler wedges for splitting and working wood to make canoes, dwellings and other objects.
However, in an elastic material such as wood, friction may bind a narrow wedge more easily than a wide one. This is why the head of a splitting maul has a much wider angle than that of an axe.
- Bowser, Edward Albert (1920), An elementary treatise on analytic mechanics: with numerous examples (25th ed.), D. Van Nostrand Company, pp. 202–203.
- McGraw-Hill Concise Encyclopedia of Science & Technology, Third Ed., Sybil P. Parker, ed., McGraw-Hill, Inc., 1992, p. 2041.
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