Garnish man comes up with ‘deadly’ way to chop wood
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.”
Several friends came by to help Ed Walsh erect his guillotine-styled woodchopper.
Ed Walsh, playing on the guillotine’s history as an execution device, sported a black mask for this photo.