Gar­nish man comes up with ‘deadly’ way to chop wood

The Southern Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - BY PAUL HERRIDGE

Don’t be alarmed if you’re pass­ing through Gar­nish and see a tall con­trap­tion that looks like a guil­lo­tine. It’s just Ed Walsh’s wood­chop­per. A sign painter and graphic artist on the main­land up un­til four years ago, when he re­tired af­ter in­jur­ing his back on a job, Mr. Walsh, who was born in New­found­land with his roots on the Burin Penin­sula, de­cided to move back to the prov­ince.

Fol­low­ing Hur­ri­cane Igor in Septem­ber, Mr. Walsh in­stalled a wood stove in his home. There was only one prob­lem - split­ting the logs to fuel the stove was not do­ing any favours with his bad back.

Af­ter check­ing around, he found sev­eral ma­chines that could do the job for him, but all were ex­pen­sive and pow­ered with gas or elec­tric­ity.

Us­ing a metal edge fash­ioned from the blade of a front end loader, a boat winch and some lum­ber - for a to­tal cost around $150 - he con­jured up a 16-foot tall con­trap­tion that func­tions like a guil­lo­tine to split wood in half. “I just put it to­gether and it worked.” Mr. Walsh, who re­moves the han­dle and blade when the de­vice is not in use for ob­vi­ous safety rea­sons, said he con­tin­ues to tinker with the wood­chop­per to make im­prove­ments. It now eas­ily slices up doomed chunks of wood eight inches thick.

“So I’m tweak­ing it and I’m get­ting bet­ter pul­leys and bet­ter ca­bles, and a good safety sys­tem in­volved in it too, be­cause you don’t want to cut any­thing off.”

He ac­knowl­edged the wood­chop­per was easy to con­struct and is friendly to the en­vi­ron­ment.

“It’s en­ergy ef­fi­cient. Doesn’t use gas. Doesn’t use oil. Doesn’t use elec­tric­ity. Just weight and grav­ity.”

The guil­lo­tine, of course, was most fa­mously used as a de­vice to carry out ex­e­cu­tions by de­cap­i­ta­tion dur­ing the French Revo­lu­tion.

The only time the in­stru­ment was ever used in North Amer­ica was for the ex­e­cu­tion of a con­victed mur­derer in St. Pierre and Miquelon in 1889. Shipped in from Mar­tinique at the time, it is still there in a mu­seum.

Mr. Walsh jok­ingly ac­knowl­edged his wood­chop­per is a bit of a con­ver­sa­tion piece in the com­mu­nity.

“I got all the French peo­ple over there ner­vous.”

Photo Sub­mit­ted

Sev­eral friends came by to help Ed Walsh erect his guil­lo­tine-styled wood­chop­per.

Photo Sub­mit­ted

Ed Walsh, play­ing on the guil­lo­tine’s his­tory as an ex­e­cu­tion de­vice, sported a black mask for this photo.

Ed Walsh

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